LETTER: Challenging the purpose of the Right to Farm group

Ponoka County resident responds to a recent story related to a society looking at the right to farm

Dear Editor,

In response to the Right to Farm article by Ponoka News, we would like to point out some oversights and misconceptions.

First and foremost this newly formed group (Ponoka Right to Farm Society) speaks to the agenda of large confined feeding operations (CFOs), not to be confused with traditional small family farms. Land prices in this county, driven by large supply management CFOs, have escalated beyond the reach of non CFO farmers.

The AOPA (Agricultural Operation Practices Act) of 2002 is, in fact, right to farm legislation. In the ensuing 16 years, the NRCB (Natural Resources Conservation Board) has approved virtually every CFO application despite objections from adjacent landowners. This leads to disputes over water usage, deforestation, spreading of manure, damage to county roads and quality of life.

It has become apparent that there are serious gaps in this provincial legislation. For example, the NRCB, when considering a new application does not consider the number of CFOs already in the area or the devaluation of adjoining properties

In light of past experience with the NRCB we have lost trust in its abilities to protect our natural resources and to responsibly control the growth of CFOS. The right to farm has become the right to harm.

In reaction to this, Ponoka County has come up with a reasonable plan to protect the rights of everyone.

Existing CFOs in two proposed exclusion zones can continue their operations and can expand, however, new CFOs will not be allowed in those areas.

The outcry demonstrated by many CFO owners at Ponoka County’s informational meeting of Aug. 13 indicated they may be unwilling to compromise or consider the view of others.

They hold the view that acreage owners and non CFO farmers are in their way. It is our view that we need the protection provided by the proposed Area Structure Plans.

From Deb MacLeod and Rick Wyrozub

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