Pre-rally ALR meeting packs hall [video]

Scroll to the bottom of the story to check out our photo gallery from the meeting

They came from every corner of the political spectrum. Farmers were sitting beside environmentalists, business people beside academics.

Agriculture is a huge driving force in the economy of the Cowichan Valley and they were all concerned about what is happening to farm land.

Recent announcements that the provincial government is looking at revamping the Agricultural Land Commission and the Agricultural Land Reserve have spawned so much discussion that a crowd packed into the United Church Heritage Hall in Duncan Wednesday night, Feb. 5 to learn about a big rally being planned for the grounds of the B.C. Legislature in Victoria on Family Day (Monday) and to talk about problems they see on the horizon.

One of the main ones is ensuring there’s enough local food produced on Vancouver Island to feed people in case of a disaster.

Another is that young people cannot afford to take up farming.

Farmer Dan Ferguson, a member of the panel, told the crowd that three per cent of the food sold on the Island at present is local. He spoke for many in the crowd when he commented, "I’m outraged. The ALR needs to be expanded, the ALC needs to be strengthened. Once it’s gone it will never be replaced," he said.

Nathalie Chambers said, "the largest obstacle [for young people looking to take up farming] is the price of farmland. There are people who want to farm but who simply cannot afford it. We need more people farming. Even school kids know we have only three days of food available on the Island."

The Food for the Future Rally to save the Agricultural Land Reserve will be held from 10 a.m. to noon on the grounds of the B.C. Legislature.

Check out www.farmlandprotection.ca for more information.