This letter is in response to recently published opinion letters: Ponoka County CFO farmers still have the right to farm and Challenging the purpose of the Right to Farm group.
Valid points are raised by both letters with the sum total of each focusing on Ponoka County having taken a “justifiable response” to instituting an area structure plan that has exclusion zones for certain new farming operations within Ponoka County.
I would offer that Ponoka County’s response perhaps is one that fails to address the source of the issues that each letter points out.
The Ponoka Right to Farm Society’s initiative is one whose efforts go far beyond a farmer’s inherent right to farm. This initiative is actually fighting for our community, for our neighbours, for our children, our businesses, for you and I. They are doing so by responsibly voicing the repercussions the county’s proposed area structure plan will have. These repercussions will not be felt by farmers alone.
The response the county has taken undermines the efforts of the NRCB and takes the governance of agricultural oversight into their own hands.
The importance of farming operations, of all sizes to the Ponoka community is significant. Their contribution to our community is seen providing revenue streams for other businesses, the creation of jobs, money spent in the community as a direct result from farming operations, and a firmly rooted career path for many young people. Restricting how farmers have access to development even further, especially geographically will have a great impact on every aspect of these contributions.
I would ask we take into consideration what will happen to land prices when farming operations are pushed to more rural areas to commence their operations. Take into consideration the influx of land that will be used for rural subdivisions and that this too will lend to a saturated real estate market.
Take into consideration the loss of business to business relationships, that rely on farming operations in the area the County is offering restrictions. This will greatly negatively impact many local businesses within the Town and County.
Could we perhaps band together with the Ponoka Right to Farm Society and rally for a response from the county that is inclusive, and devise best practices that would address the concerns that the proposed area structure plan raises, without restricting farming development?