The National Farmers Union is concerned about recent changes to the regulations governing the Lands Protection Act. In particular they point to the regulation concerning leased land. Up until now, leased land has been counted in the land holdings of both the owner and the person or corporation leasing the property. This changed recently – now the land is only included in the holdings of the person or corporation leasing the property, allowing further acreage to be bought or leased.
Secondly, under the Act, individuals can exclude up to 400 acres of non-arable land from their holdings (corporations can exclude up to 1200 acres). The definition of what constitutes non-arable land was recently changed to include land that has not been cultivated within the past four years. The NFU says that leaves the door open for land used for perennial crops as blueberries and apples to be classified as non-arable and therefore eligible for exemption.
The NFU is concerned that these changes allow individuals or corporations to be in compliance with the Act in ways that are really in violation of the spirit and intent of the Act. For the past several months the NFU has been asking to meet with Premier Wade MacLauchlan to discuss their concerns. Having had no success, they are issuing the following Open Letter to Premier MacLauchlan.
The National Farmers Union (NFU), one of PEI’s major farm organizations, is sending this open letter to Island newspapers in the hope of achieving a meeting with Premier Wade MacLauchlan. This has not been possible through regular avenues of communication.
Since the early spring the NFU has tried, at least six times to set up a meeting by going through the various channels in the Premier’s office; only to get a reply “No. You must meet with the Minister.” This goes against the Premier’s own words that “his door is open to all.”
The NFU is seeking to discuss issues at the forefront of the Island’s number one industry – agriculture. Of particular importance is the land ownership issue: our land – our soil is the source of the food we produce; thus its ownership and stewardship is a concern not only to farm families, but also to all Islanders; currently and in generations to come. The government owes Islanders transparency and accountability when it comes to our land.
The Premier has stated his objective is to make PEI a food island and a major player in the agriculture. It would appear reasonable to assume that the Premier would hope to achieve this goal by engaging with, working with, and listening to all players in the sector.
Thus, Premier MacLauchlan, through a public forum, the NFU respectfully requests a meeting with you; and should you so desire, jointly with Minister Mitchell. We sincerely look forward to a positive reply.
District Director, District 1, Region 1 National Farmers Union