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Insights from the edge : farmers' perspectives on agricultural viability near urban centres Frye, Amy Lynn 2007

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Insights from the edge: Farmers' perspectives on agricultural viability near urban centres by Amy Lynn Frye B.A., Luther College, 2004 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR T H E DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS in THE F A C U L T Y OF G R A D U A T E STUDIES (Resource Management and Environmental Studies) THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA April 2007 © Amy Lynn Frye, 2007 Abstract In British Columbia, Canada, 80 percent of agricultural revenue comes from the same three percent of the land on which 80 percent of the population lives. This close proximity of farmland and urban areas creates a unique context in which agriculture operates. Many factors that influence the viability of farms on the urban edge aren't accounted for by traditional land valuation tools that only consider physical characteristics of the land, such as soil quality, topography and climate. Farmland near urban areas is also affected by factors such as access to customers, conflict with neighbours and municipal bylaws. Many of these non-biophysical factors are becoming increasingly important to farmers due to the growth in direct farm marketing. The goal of this research is to help improve farmland management by providing information with which to update planning and land valuation tools. Specifically, the objective was to assess factors that influence the viability of farmland on the urban edge and expand the criteria by which agricultural land is valued. To do this, interviews were conducted with 29 farmers in British Columbia. The results of this study have implications for land management, edge planning, food security and local food systems. They confirm that a variety of factors unrelated to land's physical characteristics often determine a farm's success or failure. The results indicate that urban-edge agriculture is valuable to British Columbia for both economic and food security reasons, and is characterized by high risks and high rewards. Innovative planning and government support are needed to keep pace with the evolving face of agriculture and ensure that farmers can reap the benefits of an urban-edge location while avoiding its risks. Table of Contents ABSTRACT ii TABLE OF CONTENTS iii LIST OF TABLES v LIST OF FIGURES vi ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS vii CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION 1 1.1 P R O B L E M S T A T E M E N T 1 1.2 R E S E A R C H P U R P O S E 4 1.3 T H E S I S O V E R V I E W 6 CHAPTER 2: RESEARCH CONTEXT AND RATIONALE 7 2.1 C H A P T E R O V E R V I E W 7 2.2 F O O D S Y S T E M T R E N D S 7 2.3 F O O D S E C U R I T Y 12 2.4 L A N D U S E ISSUES A N D P L A N N I N G F O R A G R I C U L T U R E 14 2.5 A S N A P S H O T O F B . C . A G R I C U L T U R E 30 2.6 R E S E A R C H A P P R O A C H 35 2.7 C O N C L U S I O N 37 CHAPTER 3: METHODOLOGY 39 3.1 R E S E A R C H D E S I G N A N D P R O C E S S 39 3.2 L I M I T A T I O N S A N D G E N E R A L I Z A B I L I T Y O F R E S E A R C H 49 3.3 E T H I C A L C O N S I D E R A T I O N S 51 CHAPTER 4: RESULTS AND DISCUSSION 52 4.1 C H A P T E R O V E R V I E W 52 4.2 S A M P L E D E S C R I P T I O N 52 4.3 C O D I N G C A T E G O R I E S 56 4.4 F A C T O R S I N F L U E N C I N G A G R I C U L T U R A L V I A B I L I T Y 58 iii 4 . 5 R A T I N G S C A L E R E S U L T S 8 3 4 . 6 B R O A D E R ISSUES F A C I N G A G R I C U L T U R E 8 6 CHAPTER 5: CONCLUSION 99 5.1 S U M M A R Y O F F I N D I N G S 9 9 5.2 R E C O M M E N D A T I O N S B A S E D O N F I N D I N G S 101 5.3 R E L E V A N C E A N D I M P L I C A T I O N S O F R E S E A R C H 1 0 9 5.4 D I R E C T I O N S F O R F U T U R E R E S E A R C H 1 1 1 5.5 C O N C L U D I N G R E M A R K S 1 1 2 REFERENCES 115 APPENDIX I: INTERVIEW SCHEDULE 123 APPENDIX II: BREB CERTIFICATE OF APPROVAL 127 iv List of Tables Table 3.1 Distribution of 2001 B.C farm gate sales for the three study regions 41 Table 3.2 Distribution of study sample 42 Table 3.3 Factors included in rating exercise and justification for their inclusion 46 Table 4.1 Rating scale results: direct marketing 58 Table 4.2 Rating scale results: proximity to urban areas 61 Table 4.3 Rating scale results: location on a main road 63 Table 4.4 Rating scale results: physical quality of land 65 Table 4.5 Rating scale results: conflict with neighbours 69 Table 4.6 Rating scale results: conflict with traffic 71 Table 4.7 Rating scale results: municipal bylaws 74 Table 4.8 Rating scale results: farmer networks 77 Table 4.9 Rating scale results: proximity to agricultural services 81 Table 4.10 Rating scale results: all factors 84 Table 5.1 Recommendations based on factors affecting agricultural viability 101 Table 5.2 Recommendations based on broader issues facing agriculture 102 v List of Figures Figure 3.1 Overview of research process 40 Figure 4.1 Distribution of participants by region 53 Figure 4.2 Distribution of participants by sector 53 Figure 4.3 Distribution of participants by business model 54 Figure 4.4 Distribution of farm size 55 Figure 4.5 Distribution of participants by age 55 Figure 4.6 Coding structure 57 vi Acknowledgements My deepest gratitude goes to my committee members - Patrick Mooney, Art Bomke and David Tindall - for their insightful comments, support and flexibility. Especially to my supervisor Patrick, for his guidance and perspective throughout this process. I am incredibly appreciative of the help - both financial and otherwise - provided by Mark Robbins and the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture and Lands. Talking with farmers was an incredibly rewarding experience, and I thank you for this opportunity. Sincerest thanks to the farmers who shared their stories with me. I hope I have done your words justice. Thanks to my friends, and most of all to my parents, for whose unfailing support I am forever indebted. vii Chapter 1: Introduction 1.1 Problem statement In British Columbia, Canada, over 80 percent of the population resides on less than three percent of the province's land base - namely, the Fraser Valley, the Okanagan Val ley and Southern Vancouver Island. These three areas are also responsible for generating over 80 percent of the province's agricultural revenue (B .C. Ministry of Agriculture and Lands 2001b). This close proximity of farmland and urban areas is due to the province's mountainous topography, as the low-lying valleys are the most suitable environment for both people and food production. This juxtaposition of prime farmland and urban centres creates a unique context in which agriculture operates. Traditional land valuation tools that only consider physical characteristics of the land, such as soil quality, topography and climate, don't account for the myriad forces that influence the viability o f agriculture on the urban edge Factors such as access to markets, conflicts with neighbouring land uses and municipal bylaws are becoming more important to farmers as they are increasingly faced with the prospect of urban neighbours - and potential customers. Although the influence of these and other factors has been identified informally, their importance hasn't been systematically assessed, and decision makers are left with only the physical indicators on which to base land evaluations. Thus, agricultural land near urban centres is not necessarily being valued to its full potential. (Robbins 2005). Resolving this issue is critical in light of growing pressure on the province's land base and concerns over farmland loss. Wi th over 85 percent of its population l iving in urban areas, British 1 Columbia is the most urbanized province in Canada, and agriculture will continue to be influenced by this urbanizing context. While this project is driven specifically by the issues stated above, the research is situated in the larger context of food security and the importance of local food production in light of current food system trends. 1.1.1 Food security Today's food system provides a greater abundance of diverse, cheap food products than at any other time in history. Global, per capita calorie intake is at an all-time high (World Health Organization 2007). These gains, however, have come at great and often hidden cost to individuals, society and the environment. The industrial model of agriculture supported by this food system causes environmental degradation in the form of soil erosion, pollution and biodiversity loss, and is a major contributor to human-caused climate change (Kimbrell 2002; Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2007). Power and profit in the food system are concentrated in a handful of retail and processing giants, and many farmers can barely make a living wage (National Farmers Union 2005). Human health is compromised directly through the overconsumption of unhealthy food, and indirectly through the impacts of environmental pollution on our health. In light of these and other deficiencies, it can be argued that the costs of our current food system are unacceptable and that an alternative must be found. There is a growing interest in and support for more sustainable, localized food systems in recognition of the multitude of benefits they bring to communities. Food security is an important aspect of this alternative vision, and is defined as "a situation in which all 2 community residents obtain a safe, culturally acceptable, nutritionally adequate diet through a sustainable food system that maximizes community self-reliance and social justice" (Hamm and Bellows 2003, 37). This holistic approach addresses the entire food system, including production, distribution, access, consumption and waste. Central principles of food security are: meeting the needs of low-income people, taking a community focus, increasing self-reliance and empowerment, supporting local agriculture and taking an integrated approach to food-system issues (Fisher 1997). A n important part of increasing self-reliance and supporting local agriculture is the preservation of local productive capacity. In Canada, approximately half of all urban land is located on what was once prime farmland, and in the United States, over one mil l ion acres of farmland are being lost each year (Hofmann, Filoso, and Schofield 2005; American Farmland Trust 2006). This loss of productive capacity reduces the ability of communities to produce food for themselves and leaves them vulnerable to the uncertainties of the global food system. Maintaining local production is also critical in light of the rising cost and declining supply of oi l . The long-distance transport of food that is characteristic of our globalized food system is environmentally unsustainable and w i l l increasingly become economically unfeasible. Thus, having local food production is an important asset for communities. For urban areas, although there are significant untapped opportunities for food production within cities, it is unlikely these options w i l l meet the food needs of entire urban populations, and surrounding farmland needs to be protected in order to increase food security. The movement toward greater food security, especially in the area of local production, highlights the need for better planning tools at the urban edge. 3 1.1.2 Farmland preservation in British Columbia In British Columbia, the primary way in which farmland has been protected is through the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR), a provincial zone in which agriculture is the priority use and other uses are restricted. Established in 1973 amidst concerns over farmland being lost at a rate of 6,000 hectares a year, the A L R serves as an innovative management tool for agricultural lands, while at the same time providing a boundary for urban growth (Smart Growth BC 2004). The A L R includes approximately 4.7 million hectares, about five percent of the province. The size of the A L R has remained more or less the same since its inception, although the boundaries have changed over the years. The reserve is managed by the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC), an agency whose mandate is to preserve agricultural land and promote and support agricultural activities. Although the A L R enjoys general support from the public and farmers alike, there has been growing concern over the management of British Columbia's agricultural lands, especially regarding exclusions of land from the A L R for urban development (ALR Protection and Enhancement Committee 2005; Smart Growth BC 2005). This concern over improper land management may stem in part from the fact that available land valuation tools no longer account for the wide range of forces affecting agriculture, especially in the context of the urban edge in which much of B.C. agriculture operates. 1.2 Research purpose It is within this larger context of food security, local food systems and management of the province's agricultural land base that this thesis is situated. The purpose of this research is to contribute to the updating of land valuation tools and help create an evaluative framework for farmland that redefines agricultural potential and takes into account a wider range of factors than just the physical characteristics of the land. The first step in creating this framework is identifying the criteria that producers themselves are using to define the agricultural potential of land parcels. Although some factors have been informally identified, they haven't been assessed in any systematic way (Robbins 2005). Other factors that have yet to be identified are also likely important and are influencing farmers' decisions. Thus, the questions asked by this research are: • What factors do B.C. farmers identify as influencing the agricultural viability of farmland parcels near urban areas? • Of the identified factors, which are most important? • More generally, what have been the experiences of farmers located near urban areas, and what insights can they provide in regards to planning for agriculture in this setting? Answers to these questions can be used to develop valuation tools that more accurately reflect the full range of criteria being used to assess farmland potential at the urban edge. This information will equip the agricultural industry, planners and the Agricultural Land Commission with better information with which to make land-use decisions regarding farmland parcels. The hope is that this research will contribute to more sound management and planning for agricultural land and edge areas, with positive implications for food security and the viability of local food systems. It must be noted that by themselves, updated evaluation tools don't guarantee that better decisions will be made or that land management conflicts will be easily solved. That responsibility lies with informed decision makers who will use this information in an open and transparent process to balance various community needs. The fact that prime 5 farmland is already being developed in the province indicates that larger problems need to be addressed. However, basing decisions and planning on incomplete evaluation tools - or disregarding such tools altogether - most certainly won't result in good land management. Thus the goal of this research is to help provide the possibility for better land use decisions. The fact that this research was supported by the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands is a hopeful sign that the information resulting from this project will be used to inform land management in British Columbia. 1.3 Thesis overview Chapter 2 provides context and rationale for this research by discussing relevant topics such as food system trends, local food systems, the ALR, land valuation tools and the B.C. agricultural industry. Chapter 3 outlines the methods applied in this research, including the approach used in study design and data collection and analysis. In Chapter 4, the central findings of the study are presented and discussed in terms of how they answer the research questions and other insights they provide. Chapter 5 summarizes the important themes identified in the research and comments on the implications of the results. 6 Chapter 2 : Research Context and Rationale 2.1 Chapter overview The purpose of this chapter is three-fold: to situate this research within the broader context of prevailing food system trends, to provide evidence for the problem stated in Chapter 1 and how this research can address the problem, and to provide a rationale for the approach taken to answer the research questions. The overall structure of the chapter can be viewed as a funnel, starting out with a broad assessment of food system trends and a response to these trends, and leading to the specific problem of land management and incomplete evaluation tools that is the focus of this research. The chapter will also provide context for the research, showing how planning and management of agricultural land fits into the larger framework of food security and food systems issues. A snapshot of B.C. agriculture is also provided in relation to the purpose of the research. 2.2 Food system trends Today's food and agriculture system is characterized by a variety of developments, with three overarching trends being globalization, intensification and consolidation (Jacobsen 2006). The nostalgic, pastoral ideal of a farmer tending his small, mixed flock of animals and a vegetable garden does exist, but it is no longer the norm. Instead, food has become an industrial product grown on farms comprising thousands of acres, and livestock are a commodity raised in intensive, confined operations. The resulting products are shipped worldwide, with most food traveling between 2,500 and 4,000 kilometers before being consumed (Halweil 2002). Increasingly, power in the food 7 system is being consolidated into fewer and fewer hands, and "it is corporate policy, as much as public policy, which is now shaping food policy agendas" (Lang and Heasman 2004, 126). There is no doubt that these food system trends have brought about benefits to society. Per capita calorie availability is higher than at any other time in history, and a smaller proportion of developing countries' populations is going hungry than in the past (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations 2006; World Health Organization 2007). Supermarkets are stocked with a seemingly endless assortment of food choices from all over the world, and food is relatively cheap, with average Canadian and U.S. households spending only 10 percent of their income on food (Statistics Canada 2006; Pollan 2007). However, these trends have also brought about great consequences that are increasingly becoming apparent. It's beyond the scope of this thesis to provide a comprehensive assessment of these effects, so a handful will be highlighted. 2.2.1 Environmental effects The agricultural trends of intensification and industrialization have had significant environmental impacts. The reliance of the industrial food system on fossil fuels - both for the production of food and for its long-distance transport - causes emissions that contribute to global climate change, which in turn has the potential to drastically affect world food production. The newly-released report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2007) states that agriculture is the primary source of methane and nitrous oxide emissions (2). Runoff from inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides contaminates drinking water supplies and negatively affects aquatic organisms. The "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico - an area with oxygen levels too low to adequately 8 support aquatic life - is a result of excessive nutrient runoff from the agricultural heartland of the United States (DeVore 2002, 31). Manure spills from intensive livestock operations can similarly affect water supplies and fish. Concerns over the use of genetically modified organisms, growth hormones and antibiotics are increasingly being voiced. In the United States, 70 percent of all antibiotics are used by the agricultural industry as growth promoters for healthy animals, contributing to the growing problem of antibiotic resistance (Lang and Heasman 2004, 250). Agriculture also faces a land use paradox. On the one hand, agriculture is one of the leading causes of habitat destruction and loss of biodiversity, and it has also reduced the diversity of species that humans consume (Badgley 2003; Pollan 2007). Conversely, the trend of urbanization and resulting urban sprawl is taking up valuable farmland and reducing capacity for food production. The increases in productivity and efficiencies that have been seen in agriculture have come as a result of natural soil fertility and the use of non-renewable fossil fuels. However, the geologic "income" of soil and fossil fuels is being spent faster than it is being rebuilt, and humans may have reached a point of diminishing returns (Jackson 2004). 2.2.2 Social and economic effects The trend of consolidation has had far-reaching effects on both producers and consumers. In Canada, the number of farms has steadily declined, down from 430,522 in 1966 to 246,923 in 2001 (Lang and Heasman 2004, 150; Statistics Canada 2004). However, the area being farmed has actually grown by over 150,000 hectares since 1981, with average farm size increasing by 66 hectares (Statistics Canada 2004). This indicates that fewer owners are controlling more land. In addition, the fact that the amount of 9 prime farmland in Canada has declined due to urban development - and yet the total area in production has increased - suggests that more marginal farmland is coming into production (Hofmann, Filoso, and Schofield 2005). Marginal land is more susceptible to environmental degradation, and agricultural expansion onto marginal lands is cited by Diamond (2005) as one step in the pattern of societal collapse. Consolidation in Canada's food system is also evidenced by the fact that four companies refine and sell a majority of gas and diesel, four produce most of the nation's nitrogen fertilizer, four dominate the seed market, four control beef packing and five control the retail sector (National Farmers Union 2005, 1; Lang and Heasman 2004, 150). The prevailing "get big or get out" mentality favors large, often corporately-owned producers, and the resulting loss of family farms has contributed to the decline of rural communities. A 1999 report to the U.S. National Farmers Union discusses the changing food system structure, pointing out that whereas family farms contribute to the local economy and boost rural economic development, corporate ownership of farms drains dollars away from the community. In fact, the report states that "today, most rural economic development specialists discount agriculture as a contributor to rural development" (13). Farmers themselves are losing power in the food system, in the United States receiving only seven cents of the consumer food dollar in 2004, compared to 40 cents in 1910 (Lang and Heasman 2004, 149). Profit has shifted away from producers and is now concentrated primarily in the off-farm sectors of processing and retail. On the consumer end of the food system, food safety has become a growing concern, with the E. coli outbreak caused by tainted spinach in fall 2006 only the latest 10 scare (CBC News 2006). Consumers have seemingly endless choice when it comes to food purchases. However, these choices are influenced by the same companies who are providing the food, and whose collective advertising budget is $40 billion dollars - larger than the Gross Domestic Product of 70 percent of the world's nations (Dalmeny, Hanna, and Lobstein 2003, 5). It may be no surprise, then, that navigating the minefield of unhealthy food choices has proved largely unsuccessful for many consumers. Obesity has become a worldwide epidemic, with more than 1.6 billion people overweight or obese, including 20 million children under the age of five (World Health Organization 2006). The increases in diet-related diseases such as heart-disease, diabetes and cancer are staggering, costing society $200 billion dollars each year (Pollan 2007). As the Western diet is being exported to developing countries in what's being called the nutrition transition, diet-related diseases increasingly affect the wealthy in these nations, while the poor continue to suffer from malnourishment and hunger (World Health Organization 2006). This brief overview has highlighted some of the well-documented effects of current food system trends and is meant to provide a broad framework for the very specific purpose of this research. This assessment is by no means comprehensive and does not include an equivalent evaluation of the benefits of food system trends. However, this author believes that the negative consequences of these trends far outweigh their benefits and that a more sustainable way of providing for our food needs must be found. 11 2.3 Food security As mentioned in the introduction, the concept of food security has emerged as a response to the negative trends characterizing the food system. Originally focusing on hunger and food access issues, the concept has evolved to encompass a more comprehensive approach to the food system. The principles of food security - meeting the needs of low-income people, taking a community focus, increasing self-reliance and empowerment, supporting local agriculture, and taking an integrated approach to food-system issues - address many of the problems identified above. The purpose of this thesis is specifically related to the principle of supporting local agriculture. 2.3.1 Local food systems The multitude of benefits provided by local agriculture and local food systems make them integral components of the food security response. Consumption of locally produced foods reduces food miles - the distance food travels - and thus greenhouse gas emissions. One analysis has shown that even conventionally-produced, local food has less of a negative environmental impact than organically-produced food that has traveled across the globe (Lang and Heasman 2004, 242). By keeping money in the local economy, local farmers and the agricultural industry are supported, and consumers benefit from the superior quality, freshness and taste of local foods. In local food systems, there are more opportunities for consumers to get to know the farmer who produces their food. This can provide educational experiences for consumers as they learn more about how their food is grown, and it allows consumers to take more responsibility for their own food safety. With greater awareness, consumers may also support agricultural practices that are less harmful to humans and the environment, as 12 people are naturally more concerned with negative consequences that affect them and their immediate surroundings. Local food systems also provide food security in a literal sense. The global food system is increasingly subject to many volatile factors, such as weather and water supply fluctuations (including climate change), wars, terrorist attacks, oil shortages, rising prices and a growing number of mouths to feed. Although locally-oriented food systems are also subject to many of these factors, a food system largely dependent on imports places societies at increased risk of a major disruption in food supply. A recent report prepared for the government indicated that the Canadian food system is vulnerable to attacks at a number of points (Gordon 2006a). In his book Collapse (2005), Jared Diamond identifies the loss of trading partners as a major contributing factor in the decline of societies, and thus, "basic self-sufficiency in agricultural production should normally be a goal of national policy" (Daly and Cobb 1989, 269). The existence of resilient local food systems could be a significant factor in the event of a crisis. 2.3.2 Local land base An essential component of local food systems is a viable land base on which to grow food - local food systems cannot exist without local production. In addition to bolstering self-reliance and economic development, local agricultural lands can also benefit communities by providing landscape diversity, green space, wildlife habitat, ecological services, aesthetic values and a "sense of place" (Smart Growth BC 2004; Smith and Haid 2004). As stated in the introduction, there is concern in many places about urbanization and sprawl occurring on agricultural land, compromising the ability of communities to produce food and to reap the benefits of agricultural landscapes. It is this 13 problem of land management that is addressed by this research. Updated land evaluation tools can help decision makers plan for agriculture and the future of communities as farmland comes under pressure from competing uses, and farmers' opinions can provide valuable insight into keeping the agricultural industry viable. 2.4 Land use issues and planning for agriculture Land is a finite resource, and thus many decisions over its use are contentious. This is especially true in an urbanizing world in which cities are continually trying to find room for growing populations. Since 1950, the world has seen a fourfold increase in urban populations, with 3.2 billion urban dwellers in 2006 (Worldwatch Institute 2007). This year will mark the first time in history that a majority of the world's population will be living in urban areas (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations 2007). In Canada, urban populations swelled from 16 million in 1971 to 24 million in 2001 (Hofmann, Filoso, and Schofield 2005). According to BC Stats, the province is projected to see a population increase of over a million people, reaching 5.6 million by 2031 (BC Stats 2006a). A significant portion of this growth will occur in the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD), the third largest urban area in Canada. Over the next decade, the GVRD is expected to add more than 300,000 people to its numbers (BC Stats 2006b). In addition, the population of the Okanagan Valley is projected to triple in the next 25 years (B.C. Ministry of Agriculture and Lands 2005a). As British Columbia's urban areas are adjacent to its best agricultural land, the projected growth in the province will likely pressure this limited resource. Although development of some farmland may be necessary to accommodate urban growth, proper planning to ensure that the province's food security isn't compromised is a critical need. 14 In preparing for this challenge, it's important to consider the strengths and limitations of current tools available to manage and plan for agricultural lands. 2.4.1 The Agricultural Land Reserve As discussed in Chapter 1, the A L R is a provincial zone in which land is reserved for agricultural activities. In order to include or remove (exclude) land from the reserve, or to subdivide parcels or apply for non-farm use on A L R land, applications are made to the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC), the body that manages the ALR. Although their mandate has changed over the years, the Commission's central purpose has always been to preserve farmland and encourage farming activities (Provincial Agricultural Land Commission 2002a). In a province where only five percent of the land base is suitable for agriculture and only one percent is prime agricultural land, land use decisions regarding the ALR have become extremely contentious as the reserve is pressured by urban growth. Advocates for the preservation of the A L R are concerned that it's increasingly being perceived by both the public and decision makers as an urban land bank. Evidence of this viewpoint includes a recent Vancouver Sun op-ed piece, which argued that land in the A L R is going unfarmed and should be developed in order to alleviate urban growth pressures (Hochstein 2006). Related to this general concern over the state of the A L R are three specific issues: exclusions of land for development, the shifting of the A L R northward, and the restructuring of the A L C . Probably the most visible issue surrounding the A L R is the exclusion of farmland for development. This erosion of the urban growth boundary and the loss of food production potential can be partially explained by a pattern of events described in Agricultural Land and Urban Centres (1977). Farmland along the urban edge starts to be 15 valued for urban-oriented purposes such as housing as opposed to its use in agriculture. For a number of reasons - increased property taxes that come with rising land values, conflicts with urban neighbours, farmers' children uninterested in farming, and the difficulty of remaining economically viable - good farmland along the urban edge ends up vacant. Although some farmers are able to adapt to these conditions and exist under shrinking profit margins, it's much easier to sell the land, sometimes for great profit, to "speculators who are willing to hold the land in anticipation of future zoning changes" (8). In British Columbia, this means having the land excluded from the ALR. This pattern described 30 years ago is still occurring. In the Lower Mainland, the value of farmland has skyrocketed to between $50,000 and $100,000 a hectare, with prices in the Okanagan Valley reaching $200,000 per hectare (Campbell 2006b). The money to be made on agricultural land is so lucrative that there are allegations of developers bribing government officials to help remove land from the reserve (Cernetig and Pynn 2006). As one critic states, though, this scandal distracts from the real scandal, which is that the A L C is regularly excluding land from the A L R for development through legal avenues (Campbell 2006a). One controversial exclusion in July 2005 released 178.5 hectares of mostly prime farmland in Abbotsford for industrial and business-park development (Campbell 2006b). Commission statistics indicate a net loss of over 35,000 hectares from the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island and the Okanagan since 1973, and 71.4 percent of the land being considered by the A L C between 2001 and 2005 was excluded (Campbell 2006b). Also playing a role in this process are municipalities, as "without local government support it simply isn't possible to successfully apply for an exclusion from the ALR" (Gordon 2006b, 63). These trends are concerning given the 16 stated purpose of the A L R and because the best farmland in the province is the most pressured by development. Another issue surrounding the A L R is its changing composition. The B.C. government has pointed out that the A L R is the largest it has ever been, and that "since 2001, the Province has added more land to the ALR, removed less and increased the total by 40,000 hectares" (B.C. Ministry of Agriculture and Lands 2005b). Although this statement is true, it doesn't tell the whole story. Looking at the location of inclusions and exclusions, it's evident that parcels of prime farmland are being excluded in the warmer, more productive southern areas of the province, and land is being added to the A L R in colder, less productive northern regions. For example, large tracts of land have been added to the northern regional districts of Bulkley-Nechako (67,109.5 ha), Fraser-Fort George (29,380.5 ha), Kitimat-Stikine (2,308.2 ha) and Peace River (24,623.2 ha) (Provincial Agricultural Land Commission, no date). The other 24 regional districts in the province have experienced net losses - sometimes significant - of ALR land. A chart in the Agricultural Land Commission's 2005-2006 Annual Service Plan Report acknowledges this trend of exclusions in the south and inclusions in the north (Agricultural Land Commission 2006, 13). Although the size of the reserve has indeed grown, the uneven swaps of land indicate that the province is losing productive capacity, especially near the largest centres of population. Lastly, there has been concern voiced over the restructuring of the Agricultural Land Commission. Previously, the Commission operated as one provincial body made up of five to seven members. In 2002, changes to the A L C Act divided the Commission into six regional panels of three members each, with members of each panel being selected 17 from the region over which they preside. The rationale behind this change was to "improve responsiveness, increase interaction with applicants and stakeholders, provide the opportunity for increased regional presence, increase decision-making efficiency and increase opportunity for delegation" (Provincial Agricultural Land Commission 2002b). Despite these benefits, critics argue that the regional panels are "too prone to community pressure since members' decisions can have major financial implications for their neighbors," with the "potential to skyrocket land values tenfold overnight" (Gordon 2006b, 65). There has been an increase in exclusion applications and approvals since the panel structure has been in place, showing that perhaps these fears are not unfounded (Smart Growth BC 2005). At the same time the restructuring took place, new language was added to the Commission's service plan that required it to consider "community need" in its deliberations about the ALR. ALR interest groups are concerned this language "creates way too much leeway for removals" (Campbell 2006b, 19). The exclusion of ALR land for development purposes, the changing composition of the A L R and the restructuring of the A L C and its mandate are concerning trends from a food security perspective. The constant uproar surrounding the A L R indicates that many citizens are not content with management of the province's land base. However, it's important to remember that stuck in the middle of the debate are the farmers themselves, who are often conflicted. They generally support the A L R and the protection of farmland, but they also resent the restrictions it places on them. When given the chance to sell, "they have no other choice to obtain the money necessary to support themselves after retirement, because they have not been able to save money as farmers, and because their children don't want to continue farming anyway" (Diamond 2005, 60). 18 These complex issues surrounding the A L R have existed since its inception and will continue to grow in importance as more and more people compete for a limited resource. A multi-faceted approach is required to address the problems outlined above. By improving some of the tools available to manage the province's land base, this research attempts to help decision makers balance a variety of valid interests. 2.4.2 The Canada Land Inventory Although Canada is the second largest country in the world, the amount of usable land is limited due primarily to terrain and climate. In order to help with land use planning, the Canada Land Inventory (CLI) commenced in 1963 and set out identify how much usable land there was in Canada and where it was located. A joint venture between provincial and federal governments, this survey of rural land was meant to map and classify the physical capability of land for four sectors: agriculture, forestry, wildlife and recreation. The survey covered 2.5 million square kilometers and created 15,000 map sheets, with most of the mapping completed by 1975. The CLI was conducted in conjunction with the Canada Geographic Information System, one of the first functional GIS systems. The maps are currently available online. The CLI classification system for agricultural capability places land into classes ranging from 1 to 7. Class 1 land has the greatest capability for agriculture and the fewest limitations, and Class 6 land has the lowest capability for agriculture and the most limitations. Class 7 land has no capability for agriculture (Canada Land Inventory 1969). These classes are based on biophysical characteristics including climate, soil permeability, erosion potential, soil fertility, stoniness, topography, moisture limitations, excess water and salinity (Canada Land Inventory 1969). The system used in British 19 Columbia, called the Land Capability Classification System for Agriculture in British Columbia, is based on the CLI classification system with a few modifications. For example, the B.C. system gives some land a dual classification in order to assess its capability under both non-irrigated and irrigated conditions (Runka 1973). In 1976, the Land Capability for Agriculture preliminary report was released and contained information on the limited amount of agricultural land in Canada. Based on CLI data, the report found that only 12 percent of the country was suitable for some degree of agricultural activity (Classes 1-6), and of that, only 10.3 percent could support production that was economically viable (Classes 1-5) (Canada Land Inventory 1976). Only five percent of Canada fell into Classes 1 to 3 - land considered to be free from severe limitations - with 82 percent of this land in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. A mere 0.5 percent of the country was considered Class 1 land, the most capable agricultural land. Half of this land was found in Ontario, and an estimated 0.5 percent of the country's Class 1 agricultural land was found in British Columbia (Canada Land Inventory 1976). The CLI and its ecosystem-based approach to land classification was an important development as a planning tool for land management, and the United States uses a similar system to classify land by its inherent physical capabilities. The Agricultural Land Commission considers one of its core values to be the reliance on science and the biophysical properties of the land, and consultant Gary Runka argues that the A L R should remain "firmly based on the science of technical inventory and the inherent biophysical capability of lands to grow agricultural crops" (Runka 2006, 6). In many ways, this makes sense, as good soils will have more agricultural potential than poor 20 soils. However, the physical capability of the land is only part of the picture, and these classification systems have a number of assumptions and limitations that need to be addressed. One assumption of both the CLI and the B.C. classification system is that the land being classified is under "good soil management practices that are feasible and practical under a largely mechanized system of agriculture" (Canada Land Inventory 1969, 5; emphasis added). This assumption of mechanization may have been applicable for trends in agriculture at the time, and is still valid in many instances today. However, it leaves out consideration of land under less-mechanized production, such the varied cropping methods often used in small-scale, direct-marketing operations (Kambara and Shelley 2002). This assumption may be problematic for an agricultural industry as diversified as British Columbia's. Another limitation of these tools is that they classify land based on their capability to produce a range of crops, as opposed to the productivity potential for one crop (Runka 1973). However, there are many different growing conditions favoured by various crops, and some soils in Class 5 are "adapted to special crops such as blueberries, orchard crops, or the like" (Canada Land Inventory 1969, 7). A third assumption of classification tools based on physical properties is related to climate. The CLI website states that, "unless climate changes...the CLI land capability ratings remains valid today and in the future" (Anonymous 2001a). However, as there is growing consensus among the world's scientists that ciimate change is indeed occurring, one can imagine that the physical capabilities of the land may change as well. A fourth limitation of the CLI is that in considering the physical potential of land for a range of crops, "trees, tree fruits, cranberries, blueberries and ornamental plants .. .are not 21 considered common field crops" (Canada Land Inventory 1969, 3). Although the B.C. classification system includes tree fruits and grapes in the crop range for assessing some of the province's land, this omission leaves out crops that are very important to British Columbia's agriculture industry. Lastly, an important limitation acknowledged by the creators of the CLI is that non-physical factors that are also important to consider in land use planning are not included in the land assessment. The CLI land classes are "independent of location, accessibility, ownership, distance from cities or roads, and present use of the land" (Anonymous 2001b). In addition to these factors, the B.C. system also recognizes that business costs, market conditions, distance to market, farm size, cultural patterns, skills or resources of farmers and potential weather-caused crop damage are left out of consideration (Provincial Agricultural Land Commission 2002c). Many of these factors are becoming increasingly important in defining whether or not a farming operation is viable. Despite the limitations of biophysically-based land classification systems, they still provide important knowledge about the capabilities of the land. One concept in sustainable agriculture is "nature as measure," or learning from the land and working within its means. The factors assessed by the CLI and the Land Capability Classification System for Agriculture in British Columbia can facilitate this learning, and with continued refinement these tools will remain useful. But for a more complete toolkit, even those working with the CLI recognized that "other socioeconomic and environmental considerations should be integrated into the planning process" (Anonymous 2001a). This is because there is often a difference between what the land 22 can physically produce and what determines economic viability in agriculture. By assessing the non-physical factors that have been left out of traditional classification systems, a complementary tool can be developed that expands our understanding of the factors contributing to agriculture viability, especially in the unique context of the urban edge. 2.4.3 Urban-edge agriculture One reason that the growing urban pressures on agricultural land are so concerning - and the need for proper planning and management so great - is because Canada's best farmland is adjacent to its urban areas. The CLI report Agricultural Land and Urban Centres (1977) reported that 53.5 percent of Canada's Class 1 land, 28.6 percent of Class 2 land and 20 percent of Class 3 land was found within a 50-mile radius of urban areas (4). As mentioned in the introduction, 80 percent of British Columbia's farm gate receipts come from the same three percent of the land base on which 80 percent of the population resides. These statistics are not surprising, as historically, fertile agricultural lands often provided the necessary resources for young cities to grow. In addition to being the most agriculturally productive land, farmland near urban areas also has great economic potential. Its location allows access to niche markets and a large customer base, factors that have played a role in the growth of direct farm marketing initiatives in recent years. By selling directly to the consumer, whether at the farm itself or through farmers markets and other avenues, farmers are able to recapture a greater portion of the consumer dollar, thus increasing their profit margin and becoming more competitive (Kambara and Shelley 2002). Direct farm marketing taps into changing 23 consumer desires for more local and organic food, and farms located near the urban edge require less traveling and provide easier access for both farmers and consumers. Farming in the urban shadow also has its unique challenges. One disadvantage of this location is that the highly productive and economically viable farmland found near urban areas is also under the most pressure from development. As pointed out in the discussion of issues surrounding the ALR, this can lead to speculation and resulting underutilization of high quality farmland. A Rural and Small Town Analysis Bulletin found that half of Canada's urban areas are located on land that was once Class 1, 2 or 3 agricultural land (Hofmann, Filoso, and Schofield 2005). Farmers who do remain farming near the urban edge, although able to tap into this location's benefits, can have profit margins eroded due to rising land values that increase property taxes. Conflicts with urban neighbors and increased traffic can also make it more difficult for farmers to operate in this environment. In order to illustrate some of the forces that affect agriculture along the urban edge, two examples are provided below. The first, on a macro level, highlights the experience of southern Ontario, another Canadian province attempting to balance farmland preservation and rapid urban growth. The second takes a micro-level approach and looks at how one farm on the edge of Vancouver has seen both the benefits and challenges of being located on the urban fringe. Example E Southern Ontario Ontario's Golden Horseshoe is a densely-populated, urban-industrial region that wraps around the western shore of Lake Ontario. With a population of just under eight 24 million, the region contains two-thirds of Ontario's residents and 25 percent of the Canadian population (Government of Ontario 2005). As Canada's largest and fastest-growing metropolitan region, the Golden Horseshoe's population is expected to reach 11.5 million by 2031 (Government of Ontario 2005). Anchoring the Golden Horseshoe is the City of Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), with a population of about 5 million. In Ontario as a whole, urban land area grew almost 80 percent between 1971 and 2001, and the province contains one third of Canada's urban land (Hofmann, Filoso, and Schofield 2005). Despite this dense urbanization, Ontario is also one of the nation's primary agricultural producers. Over 50 percent of Canada's Class 1 farmland is in Ontario, with most of it located in the southern, more urbanized part of the province (Canada Land Inventory 1976). There are 59,728 farms in Ontario - down from 82,448 in 1981 - which comprise 24 percent of Canada's agricultural operations (Statistics Canada 2003). Agriculture makes a large contribution to the province's economy, totaling $9.1 billion in gross farm receipts in 2001 (Statistics Canada 2003). Over half of the land in the Golden Horseshoe is Class 1, 2 or 3 farmland that contributes $3.5 billion in gross farm receipts annually - more than the gross farm receipts for the entire province of British Columbia (Government of Ontario 2005). About $1.48 billion of these receipts are from the G T A (Planscape 2003). As in most regions where agriculture and urban centres coexist, there has been increasing pressure on the land base in southern Ontario. Urban sprawl has been cited as a significant problem in the region, resulting in the unsustainable consumption of farmland (Government of Ontario 2005). By 2001, 11 percent of Ontario's Class 1 25 farmland was taken up by urban development (Hofmann, Filoso, and Schofield 2005). In the 20 years prior to 1996, 2,000 farms and over 60,000 hectares of farmland went out of production in the GTA (Watkins, Hilts, and Brockie 2003). The province as a whole is estimated to have lost 1.5 million hectares of farmland between 1966 and 2002, which translates into an annual loss of 41,667 hectares (Watkins, Hilts, and Brockie 2003). For comparison, recall that annual losses of 6,000 hectares prompted the creation of British Columbia's Agricultural Land Reserve. Until 2005, agricultural land in Ontario was not protected by any legislative mechanisms, and the province instead relied upon land use planning to balance various uses. Within this rapidly-urbanizing and agriculturally productive region, farmers have had to adapt to changing circumstances that affect the viability of their operations. Interviews with farmers in the Toronto area indicate that, in addition to not understanding farm practices, non-farmers have a different vision for the landscape than do farmers (Bunce and Maurer 2005). Increased urban traffic can make it difficult for farmers to carry out normal operations, as can complaints from neighbors about pesticide spraying, lights and farm smells (Anonymous 2004; Bunce and Maurer 2005). Other urbanization-related issues that can reduce the viability of farm operations include trespassing, vandalism, theft and garbage dumping (Anonymous 2004; Mann 2002). In addition, Toronto-area farmers cite rising land values as a barrier to land acquisition and expansion (Bunce and Maurer 2005). In addition to these challenges, proximity to urban areas also provides unique opportunities for innovative farmers. The marketing prospects created by urbanization have caused many farmers in the region to diversify into high-value products that cater to 26 urban populations (Planscape 2003). Among the Toronto-area farmers interviewed, direct farm sales "dominated the farmers' marketing strategies" (Bunce and Maurer 2005, 18). Niche marketing, value-added products and agritourism are other adaptations that can bolster the viability of agricultural operations on the urban edge (Government of Ontario 2005; Bunce and Maurer 2005). Direct farm marketing is a growing business model and contributes $116 million in gross farm receipts to the Ontario economy (Farrar 2005). In 2005, the province designated a protected Greenbelt of 1.8 million acres (728,434 ha) in and around the Golden Horseshoe. Almost two-thirds of the greenbelt is farmland, but it remains to be seen if southern Ontario can manage its growth in a way that lessens the pressures on natural and agricultural resources. Example 2: UBC Farm, Vancouver The University of British Columbia's Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at UBC Farm is a 24-hectare, student-run organic farm on the UBC campus. The farm produces over 150 varieties of fruits, vegetables, flowers, herbs, eggs from a free-range chicken flock and products such as honey and jam. Nestled between Vancouver and the Pacific Ocean, the UBC Farm reaps many benefits from its urban-edge location. A majority of the farm's produce is sold through its Saturday farm markets and a community supported agriculture program, both of which rely on an urban clientele. For almost all of the produce grown, demand far exceeds supply, as evidenced by the long line-ups at markets and early sell-out times of many goods. The farm also supplies a handful of Vancouver restaurants with produce, tapping into the growing trend of chefs 27 making direct links with local farms. In addition, the farm is a community resource, providing volunteer opportunities and educational experiences. The farm's 1.5 hectares of land in production, although not assessed by land classification schemes, suffers from significant soil limitations and would likely fall into Class 3, 4 or 5 - considered generally unsuitable for annual horticultural crops. With good management practices, however, the farm is able to capitalize on its urban-edge location and generate over $75,000 in gross farm-gate sales due to the adjacent large customer base and demand for fresh, local, organic food. The UBC Farm also experiences negative aspects of being on the urban edge. It has had problems with trespassers and vandalism, and its location on the UBC campus in Vancouver makes the farm prime real estate for residential development. With its incredibly high land value, developing the land could contribute significantly to the University's endowment fund. The land is designated by the University as a future housing reserve, and the surrounding lands are currently being developed. In 2012, the University has the option to review and change the designation of the land and decide its future. A more immediate threat to the farm's existence than development is the challenge of becoming economically sustaining. The farm still relies on grants and other external funding sources in order to operate, although each year it gets closer to self-sufficiency. Even with the benefits that come with being located along the urban edge, the economics of small farming still make it difficult to achieve financial viability. The U B C Farm's relationship to the University and primary focus on education set it somewhat apart from other agricultural operations. The farm's paid labor is more expensive than it would be for private farmers, and the productivity of volunteers is often 28 relatively low. Volunteers also require a significant investment for training, which pays back to society in terms of increased agricultural literacy, but not directly to the farm. The UBC Farm is similar to private farms in that it receives no operating funds from the University and is run as a cost-recovery operation. It attempts to provide a realistic model of an economically viable small farm business, thus making it comparable to private farming operations and a good example of the unique opportunities and challenges facing urban-edge agriculture. The discussion and examples above provide evidence of the unique context in which urban-edge agriculture operates. They show that under certain conditions, farming operations can be viable even in the face of difficult socioeconomic circumstances and biophysical limitations. Many of the factors that are directly related to agricultural viability along the urban edge are the same factors that are not accounted for by traditional planning tools such as the CLI. Although factors such as location, accessibility, adjacent land uses, market conditions and business costs affect almost all agricultural operations, many play a more pronounced role in determining the viability of farms along urban edge. For example, a wheat farmer in the northern Peace region of British Columbia faces a different set of constraints and opportunities than does a u-pick blueberry farmer in the Lower Mainland. Farmers along the urban edge become marketers and salespeople, and the physical ability to grow crops does not automatically translate into a viable farm operation. As direct marketing initiatives continue to grow and as urban areas expand, these socioeconomic factors will continue to play a critical role in defining agricultural viability. There is a need for these factors to be systematically assessed and incorporated 29 into planning tools. The municipality of Richmond has begun to do this with its creation of agricultural nodal management areas. This tool uses the geographic distribution of both biophysical and socioeconomic factors to create distinct spatial regions that can be managed according to their unique characteristics (Huhtala et al. 2001). For example, certain areas can be characterized as having greater potential for conflict with non-agricultural land uses, or as requiring special water management. This information can then be incorporated into the planning process. The need to expand this type of integrated effort is especially urgent as planners and officials try to balance competing visions for the province's most physically productive and economically valuable land. 2.5 A snapshot of B.C. agriculture The agricultural industry in British Columbia is one of the most varied in Canada, and arguably worldwide. The province's diverse geographical and climatic zones allow for the production of an astonishing range of products. British Columbia is the number one producer of blueberries in North America (Gordon 2006b). It leads the nation in production of raspberries, cranberries, sweet cherries, grapes and farmed fish, and is second in mushrooms, apples, ginseng, shellfish, nursery products and floriculture, as well as greenhouse tomatoes, cucumbers and sweet peppers (B.C. Ministry of Agriculture and Lands 2006). Other tree fruits, poultry, dairy and beef are also important agricultural industries in British Columbia. The province's flourishing wine industry saw grape production in the Okanagan Valley increase by 200% from 1996 to 2001 (B.C. Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries no date). In addition, agriculture in the province provides for 50 percent of British Columbians' food needs from less than five percent of the land base (Smart Growth BC 2004). 30 The agricultural industry is an important contributor to the B.C. economy. The number of farms in the province has grown to over 20,000, bucking national trends that see farm numbers declining (B.C. Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries 2004). However, this growth in farm numbers has been uneven across the province, with some areas losing operations. For example, the GVRD lost 610 farms between 1996 and 2001, although the amount of land being farmed remained effectively the same (GVRD Policy & Planning Department 2003). The province also has 900 food processors, 8,100 food service establishments and 2,700 retail stores (B.C. Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries 2004). Forty thousand people are directly employed in agriculture, with the number jumping to over 280,000 when considering all agri-food industries (B.C. Ministry of Agriculture and Lands 2006). Agriculture in the province generates $2.8 billion dollars in direct annual sales, and constitutes eight percent of Canada's international exports (B.C. Ministry of Agriculture and Lands 2006; Smart Growth BC 2004). Two aspects of B.C.'s agricultural industry are important to highlight in relation to the purpose of this research. 2.5.1 The greenhouse industry Due to climatic limitations, Canada has been on the leading edge of greenhouse technologies. Greenhouse production extends the growing season and can be 10 to 20 times more productive than the same area of land under field production (BC Greenhouse Growers' Association 2004a). Ontario and British Columbia account for 66 percent and 24 percent, respectively, of national greenhouse production of vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet peppers, hot peppers and lettuce (B.C. Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries 2003). British Columbia's greenhouse industry saw rapid 31 growth through the 1990s, with sales increasing 380 percent from 1993 to 2001 (B.C. Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries 2003). The province has 252 hectares of land under glass, with 90 percent of greenhouses being located in the Fraser Valley (B.C. Ministry of Agriculture and Lands 2001a; BC Greenhouse Growers' Association 2005b). The municipality of Delta contains over half of the province's greenhouse area (136 hectares), with Abbotsford containing just under a quarter (59 hectares) (BC Greenhouse Growers' Association 2005a; BC Greenhouse Growers' Association 2005b). The greenhouse industry saw $220 million dollars in farm gate sales in 2005 and employs 3,200 people (BC Greenhouse Growers' Association 2004b). It is primarily an export-driven industry, with 60 to 75 percent of B.C. greenhouse vegetables destined primarily for the United States, as well as eastern Canada and Asia (B.C. Ministry of Agriculture and Lands 2001a; B.C. Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries 2003). The continuing growth and importance of the greenhouse industry to British Columbia and to Canada provides more evidence for the value of updated land evaluation tools. Greenhouses, with their climate controlled, non-soil-based environments, are not served by traditional land planning tools (Robbins 2005). Although greenhouse operations require flat land, and their productivity can vary with local microclimate differences, greenhouses don't rely on natural soil capability. Thus, current tools that only assess biophysical characteristics don't fully evaluate the potential of land parcels for greenhouse production. This is also true for other agricultural industries that are relatively land detached - that is, not dependent on soil quality - such as some livestock operations. Although the greenhouse industry's growth has slowed, it's likely to remain 32 an important component of B.C. agriculture, requiring applicable tools in order to account for it in the planning process. 2.5.2 Direct marketing Marketing agricultural products directly to consumers is an increasingly popular farm business model. More consumers want to purchase food and other agricultural items directly from farmers, thus providing producers with an alternative to traditional commodity marketing avenues dominated by agribusiness (Kambara and Shelley 2002). Direct farm marketing comes in many forms, including sales from the farm, farmers' markets, roadside stands, u-pick operations, internet-based sales and community supported agriculture programs. Many of these marketing avenues can be combined with agritourism opportunities. Direct farm marketing is generally more suited to smaller operations, and many small farms depend on direct farm marketing to remain financially viable (Kambara and Shelley 2002). There has been little formal research into the prevalence and importance of direct farm marketing, but it's generally acknowledged to be a growing trend in agriculture. A U.S. study found that direct farm sales had increased 37 percent between 1987 and 1997, and that the number of farmers' markets grew 63 percent in the decade prior to 2000 (Payne 2002). In British Columbia, there are 68 members listed on the website of the Fraser Valley Farm Direct Marketing Association, and the Southern Vancouver Island Direct Marketing Association's website lists 76 growers. The BC AgriTourism Alliance links the emerging agritourism industry to the rapid growth of direct farm marketing (British Columbia AgriTourism Alliance no date). Invest Kelowna, the Economic Development Commission for the Central Okanagan, cites the growth of residential and 33 commercial areas near farmland as a factor in producers transitioning from wholesaling to direct marketing and agritourism (Invest Kelowna 2006). Provincial statistics also indicate the importance of direct farm marketing to British Columbia, showing that in terms of dollar value, 43 percent of field vegetables, 23 percent of berries, grapes and nuts, and 21 percent of tree fruits were sold through direct marketing in 2004 (B.C. Ministry of Agriculture and Lands 2004). A recent study has shown that the number of B.C. farmers' markets increased from 60 to 100 between 2000 and 2006, with 131,000 people visiting a farmers' market during the growing season (Connell et al. 2006). The overall economic impact of farmers' markets is estimated to be $118.6 million, with $65.3 million being generated by farmers' markets themselves and $53.3 million being spent by market shoppers at neighboring businesses (Connell et al. 2006). In addition to their economic benefits, farmers' markets also provide a venue for socializing and community building. The Fraser Valley Farm Direct Marketing Association's website states that three quarters of farms in British Columbia are considered small agricultural operations, producing on parcels of 10 acres (four hectares) or fewer or generating less than $50,000 in sales. Considering the suitability of direct marketing to smaller farms, and the fact that British Columbia's most productive farmland is near urban areas, many agricultural operations in British Columbia could stand to benefit from this business model. Direct marketing will likely continue to see significant growth in the province and will remain an important part of the agricultural industry. As such, the need for updated land evaluation tools becomes even more evident. As discussed in 2.4.3, the unique urban-edge context in which much of direct marketing occurs is influenced by a variety of 34 socioeconomic factors not accounted for by current land valuation systems. Assessing these factors can help ensure that British Columbia's diverse agricultural industry is properly served by land planning and management tools. 2.6 Research approach This research is primarily exploratory in its attempt to identify socioeconomic factors that influence the agricultural viability of farmland. Due to this exploratory nature, the study employed a qualitative research approach. Denzin and Lincoln (2000) define qualitative research as involving "an interpretive, naturalistic approach to the world. This means that qualitative researchers study things in their natural settings, attempting to make sense of, or to interpret, phenomena in terms of the meanings people bring to them" (3). Qualitative research emphasizes "the socially constructed nature of reality, the intimate relationship between the researcher and what is studied, and the situational constraints that shape inquiry" (8). A qualitative approach was chosen because it allows for a deep and rich understanding of the subject, and it is "appropriate to research topics and social studies that appear to defy simple quantification" (Babbie 2004,282). 2.6.1 Research values A qualitative approach to inquiry recognizes that research is inherently value-laden - it is carried out by humans who view the world through their own lens and bring their own values and perspective to bear on the research process (Denzin and Lincoln 2000). By acknowledging this, researchers can help control for bias by constantly being aware of how personal values may be influencing their research. In doing this project, it 35 was important for me to examine and continually reflect on my own values. I recognize that I approach this research with strong support for farmers, local agriculture and farming practices that work with rather than against the environment. My personal goal is to foster the creation of sustainable food systems that benefit both people and the land. 2.6.2 Quantitative aspects of the methodology The approach taken towards this research was primarily qualitative; however the study also involved a more structured, quantitative component. This was to facilitate a numerical assessment of the factors that farmers use to define agricultural potential. By applying several methodologies, this research taps into the strengths of both qualitative and quantitative inquiry and helps to overcome each strategy's inherent weaknesses (Babbie 2004). The use of multiple sources or methods to explore the same phenomena is called triangulation, and the study results should thus have a higher degree of credibility than they would if either methodology was used in isolation (Robson 1993). 2.6.3 Grounded theory Grounded theory is one method of engaging in qualitative field research and was the primary approach followed in this study. Grounded theory is an inductive approach that, instead of testing hypotheses, draws ideas, themes and patterns out of the collected data and synthesizes them to formulate theory (Babbie 2004). In grounded theory, the researcher engages in data collection and analysis without preconceived notions about what may be discovered. The data is thus allowed to speak for itself and theory is generated - as the name implies - from the ground up. It is appropriate for exploratory research in which testing specific hypotheses may limit the scope of inquiry. 36 A major aspect of grounded theory is its use of an iterative research process known as the constant comparative method. Using this approach, the researcher engages in a continual cycle of data collection and reflection, making comparisons between various aspects of the data (Charmaz 2000). This reflection further informs the data collection process, which can change and adapt as the research progresses. This flexibility is a strength of qualitative research in general, as unanticipated discoveries and new lines of inquiry can be incorporated into the research process at any stage. The researcher's reflections and notes also become part of the raw data, and thus the researcher is intimately involved in creating and shaping knowledge. Although this study generally follows a grounded theory method, there are aspects of the research that deviate from this approach. As called for in grounded theory, concepts and themes were drawn out of the data in a reflective process in an attempt to identify factors important to farmers. However, some factors had previously been identified informally and through the literature, and part of the study's purpose was to confirm the presence and importance of these factors. In addition, the data analysis was modified as explained in Chapter 3. 2.7 Conclusion This chapter began with a broad overview of trends shaping the food system. Food security, as a response to the negative consequences of these trends, emphasizes the importance of local food systems and local agriculture. These, in turn, require a secure, local land base for food production, and the specific purpose of this research is to help in the management of that land base. A discussion of British Columbia's Agricultural Land Reserve indicates that the province's agricultural land may not be secure in the face of 37 urban development. Current tools available to help plan for and manage farmland rely on the physical characteristics of the land and don't capture all of the factors that contribute to agricultural viability. This is especially true when considering the unique context of urban-edge agriculture and the growth in direct farm marketing and the greenhouse industry. The importance of agriculture to British Columbia and Canada, and the fact that pressures on the land will only increase in the coming years, require that steps be taken today to ensure that a variety of needs can be balanced in the future. The questions posed in this research can help develop more complete planning tools and create the possibility for improved management of the province's agricultural lands. 38 Chapter 3: Methodology 3.1 Research design and process Qualitative research can employ a variety of data collection techniques. The specific design utilized in this research was qualitative field work involving semi-structured interviews with B.C. farmers. Interviews were chosen as the data collection tool because they are consistent with an exploratory approach, and it was important to let farmers express their opinions about agricultural viability in their own words. As Bunce and Maurer (2005) point out, engaging in inquiry "at the level of the farm enterprise not only affirms the central role of farmers in the broader agricultural economy, but also reveals the values and goals that influence the countless individual decisions that together make up macro-level patterns of activity" (5). In addition, it was felt that face-to-face interviews would be better-received by farmers than an impersonal survey. This project was done in collaboration with the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture and Lands and was a cross-sectional study, meaning that all interviews took place at more or less the same point in time. Figure 3.1 gives an overview of the research process and shows how a review of the literature and input from Ministry agrologists informed the study. 3.1.1 Study population and sample selection The population of interest in this study was a subset of B.C. farmers fitting certain criteria - being located within 500 meters of an urban edge or provincial highway, and having started or significantly invested in their agricultural operation in that location within the last 10 years. In addition, the research focused on the population of farmers in the three heavily urbanized areas of British Columbia that also contain the province's 39 Ministry of Agriculture and Lands • Agrologists' experience & knowledge Need for Research • Objectives Research Questions Study Design * Qualitative interviews Interview Development Participant Selection Data Collection Analysis • Qualitative - coding • Quantitative - rating Discussion ^ Literature Review ^ • Food system trends • Food security • Agricultural land management • Urban-edge agriculture • Agriculture in British Columbia Figure 3.1 Overv iew of research process prime agricultural land - the Fraser Valley, Vancouver Island and the Okanagan Valley. The population satisfying the criterion of being near an urban area or provincial highway also included farmers who were adjacent to a smaller population centre in a more rural area. This reflects the view of urban-edge agriculture as representing a continuum of agricultural operations - from farms literally on the edge to those further out but still 40 influenced by the generally urban context of the area (e.g. in terms of access to markets, population density, etc.). The criteria used in defining the study population were meant to identify farmers who were seeing value in agricultural land near urban areas - as evidenced by their recent investment in it - as this population should have important insights to offer in addressing the research questions. Out of this population, a list of potential participants was developed using a combination of quota and purposive sampling techniques. With quota sampling, "the strategy is to obtain representatives of the various elements of a population, usually in the relative proportions in which they occur in the population" (Robson 1993, 140). In this research, the desired population element was the distribution of farm gate sales in the province by sector and region for the three production areas being examined (Table 3.1). Within each of these categories, purposive sampling was used to fill the quota. In purposive sampling, the researcher uses his or her judgment to select participants that will meet the needs of the study and be most useful in answering the research questions (Babbie 2004; Robson 1993). The knowledge of Ministry agrologists from their professional experience working with farmers was relied upon to identify possible participants. Fraser Valley Vancouver Island Okanagan ROW TOTALS Livestock 44% 4% 6% 54% Field horticulture 16% 2% 2% 20% Non-field horticulture 21% 2% 3% 26% COLUMN TOTALS 81% 8% 11% 100% Table 3.1 Distribution of 2001 B.C. farm gate sales for the three study regions. Source: Agrologists at the BC Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, using 2001 census data (Note: Percentages are out of 100 for the entire table, not for each row and column). 41 The combination of these sampling techniques allowed us to achieve a degree of representativeness in comparison to the population and also to select participants who would provide us with valuable insights. These non-random techniques were also applicable in this study because a random sampling of farms along an urban edge or provincial highway would have likely resulted in the inclusion of land not being actively farmed and landowners hoping to sell their land and thus not seeing agricultural value in it. Although this would also be an important group to talk to, it was beyond the scope of this study. For the purposes of this research, it was essential to talk with people who were actively engaged in agriculture. In general, the sample follows the desired distribution in that a majority of the participants are from the Fraser Valley (Table 3.2). However, it was not always possible to find participants who met the selection criteria and thus fill the quotas. For example, livestock and non-field horticulture are larger sectors than field horticulture provincially, and yet field horticulture makes up the largest percentage of the sample (by sector). This could be because field horticulture is more suited to an urban-edge location than are livestock operations and non-field horticulture due to factors such as odor, noises, aesthetics, etc. In addition, some participants were purposefully chosen even though they Fraser Valley Vancouver Island Okanagan ROW TOTALS Livestock Field Horticulture Non- Field Horticulture 5 8 2 17% 27% 7% 4 4 1 14% 14% 3% 0 4 1 0 14% 3% 9 16 4 31% 55% 14% COLUMN TOTALS 15 52% 9 31% 5 17% 29 100% Table 3.2 Distribution of study sample." fable shows number o F farms and percentage of total sample. In the case of mixed operations, farms are classified by their primary activity. (Note: Percentages do not necessarily add up to totals due to rounding). 42 did not fit into the quota because it was thought they were important to talk with based on their experiences. For example, through their work with farmers, Ministry agrologists knew of individuals who they believed had important insights related to urban edge viability, or whose decisions to locate or reinvest in a certain location were driven primarily by the socioeconomic factors that this research attempts to assess. The rationale for including these farmers is similar to that used in selecting case studies, in which, "potential for learning is a different and sometimes superior criterion to representativeness.. .Balance and variety are important; opportunity to learn is of primary importance" (Stake 2000, 446-7). When selecting the sample, all types of agricultural activities were considered, as well as both organic and conventional production. The final sample of 29 participants included such varied activities as equestrian facilities, vegetable farms, berry farms, wineries, orchards, greenhouse operations, nurseries, poultry farms, dairy farms, beef farms, mixed farms (both livestock and horticulture) and specialty crops such as lavender and holly. This was in an attempt to reflect British Columbia's diverse agricultural industry. Thus the use of the terms "farm" and "agricultural operation" are used interchangeably and refer to this wide range of activities. 3.1.2 Interview design and data collection Qualitative interviews were chosen as the data collection tool as they allow for the exploration of multiple, complex themes and access to rich, nuanced information, plus provide great depth of understanding (Rubin and Rubin 2005). A semi-structured format was employed to provide consistency so that responses could be analyzed comparatively, and also to allow ample opportunity for farmers to speak freely about their experiences. 43 For this reason, the interviews did not follow a script, but were conversational in nature. Certain topics were covered and key questions asked in each interview, but the direction of each conversation and length of time spent on certain topics varied among the participants. The interview schedule was developed using insight from the literature and the knowledge of Ministry agrologists regarding urban-edge agriculture and factors which may affect it (Appendix I). In each interview there were five general topics covered. General farm information The first topic included information about the participant's farm and background, such as size of the farm, the farm's land capability classification, products grown or raised, where and how the products were marketed (e.g. locally, provincially; retail, wholesale, direct marketing), length of time farming at that location, any family ties to the farm or the land, and a general history of the farm (e.g. changes, expansions, etc.). Urban-edge location Secondly, participants were asked about their experience farming near an urban edge and in a heavily populated area of the province. Benefits, drawbacks, conflicts, changes and adaptations related to this location and its impact on their farming operation were all discussed. The thought-process behind each participant's decision to locate or continue to invest in the urban-edge location was also explored in an attempt to identify some of the factors he or she weighed and what value they saw in that site. 44 As a part of this discussion, participants were read a list of factors and asked to think about how important these factors were in terms of their decision to locate or invest in their location and how much the factors affected the agricultural viability of that site. Participants were asked to rate these factors on scale of one to 10 , with one meaning that the factor was not at all important to their decision or did not affect the viability of their location, and 10 meaning that the factor was very important to their decision or strongly affected the viability of their location. This more structured component of the interview was to allow for a quantitative comparison of the different factors under investigation and to help determine their relative importance. In addition, some of the factors included in the rating exercise were more generally related to quality of life and do not directly affect agricultural viability, so as to provide a well-rounded picture of the factors important to farmers. The factors included in the rating exercise were developed based on a review of the literature and from the knowledge of Ministry agrologists in their experiences and conversations with farmers. Common sense also dictated that some factors may be important and should be explored. Table 3.3 provides a list of factors used in the rating exercise, and a rationale for their inclusion. 45 Factors Justification for inclusion Physical quality of land • CLI, traditional basis for defining agricultural viability Proximity to processing facilities/other agricultural services • Literature (Planscape 2003; Bunce and Maurer 2005; University of Guelph fact sheet 2004) Location/visibility on main road/highway • Literature (Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development 2003) • Ministry agrologists' experiences with farmers Opportunities for direct farm marketing • Literature (Bunce and Maurer 2005; Kambara and Shelley 2002) • Common sense, in light of sector's growth Proximity to urban area • Literature (Planscape 2003; University of Guelph fact sheet 2004; Bunce and Maurer 2005) Conflicts with neighbours • Literature (Bunce and Maurer 2005; Mann 2002; University of Guelph fact sheet 2004) Conflicts with urban traffic • Literature (Mann 2002; University of Guelph fact sheet 2004)) Municipal bylaws (e.g. ability to use signage, setback requirements) • Literature (Watkins, Hilts and Brockie 2003; Mann 2002) • Ministry agrologists' experiences with farmers Business costs • Literature (Bunce and Maurer 2005; Diamond 2005) • Common sense Rising land values of farmland/speculation • Literature (Bunce and Maurer 2005; Campbell 2006b; Diamond 2005) Farmer networks • Literature (Planscape 2003) Local government's attitude towards agriculture • Literature (Bunce and Maurer 2005; Watkins, Hilts and Brockie 2003) Proximity to other employment (for self or family member) • Literature (Mann 2002) • Common sense Proximity to community resources (e.g. schools, shopping) • Literature (Mann 2002) • Common sense Proximity to family/social networks • Common sense Family ties to the land • Literature (Bunce and Maurer 2005) • Common sense Aesthetics/quality of life • Literature (Bunce and Maurer 2005) • Common sense Other • Allowed farmers to identify other factors that were important Table 3.3 Factors included in rating exercise and justification for their inclusion. 46 Agricultural Land Reserve The third topic addressed in the interviews was the Agricultural Land Reserve. Participants were asked if they believed the A L R provided adequate protection for agricultural activities. Specifically, the goal was to find out if farmers saw value in the Strengthening Farming Program and the Farm Practices Protection (Right to Farm) Act. This legislation is designed to protect operators using "normal farm practices" from nuisance complaints regarding annoyances such as noise, odors and dust. In most cases, the conversations turned into a more general discussion of participants' opinions on the ALR. Food security Food security was the fourth topic discussed. Although not originally a major component of the interview schedule, many conversations touched on issues related to food security - such as self-reliance, the importance of local production and food safety. Questions about food security were then incorporated as a regular but small part of the interviews. This is one example of how the interview process evolved as it progressed. Demographic information Lastly, participants were asked about demographic information such as age, marital status, education level and income so that a general description of the sample could be developed. In total, 29 interviews were conducted during March and April of 2006. One participant was interviewed over the telephone. The rest were interviewed in person at 47 their homes or farms, and 24 of the interviews were recorded. There were two participants who did not complete the rating exercise due to factors such as time limitations and presence of a language barrier. The longest interview took just under two hours and the shortest was 20 minutes. Two individuals identified as possible participants declined to be involved in the study. 3.1.3 Data analysis A major characteristic of qualitative methodology, and especially grounded theory, is that data collection and analysis occur as one continual process (LeCompte and Schensul 1999). Analysis starts with the first data collected - in this case, the first interview - and continues throughout the research, informing further inquiry. To differentiate analysis that occurs during the data collection and that which happens after data collection is complete, the terms informal and formal analysis can be applied (Robson 1993). In this project's informal analysis, the researcher was constantly reflecting, formulating ideas, refining concepts and identifying themes that were becoming apparent from the discussions with farmers. After the interview process was completed, the recordings were transcribed and, along with the field notes taken during data collection, provided the primary data for the formal analysis. To analyze this qualitative data, the process of coding was used, which "involves systematically labeling concepts, themes, events, and topical markers so that you can readily retrieve and examine all of the data units that refer to the same subject across all your interviews" (Rubin and Rubin 2005, 207). In grounded theory, open coding is used, a variation in which texts are coded line-by-line and the coding categories are suggested by the data itself and not applied by an external coding structure. In this 48 respect, the approach used was slightly modified. The codes used were still developed from the data itself, but line-by-line coding was not used. As Rubin & Rubin (2005) point out, "In this hybrid model.. .you need not code every passage or term but select only those concepts and themes that are most closely related to your research question" (223). After the interview transcripts and notes were coded, the second phase of formal analysis began. Texts were sorted by code, so that all units of text with the same code could be viewed together. This allowed for comparisons across interviews to look for differing opinions and explanations in order to refine concepts and themes. It was also possible to organize the data for each code by sector and region to look for similarities and differences within and between subgroups. This analysis was facilitated by the use of qualitative data analysis software1, a tool that helps in the organization, display and searching of data and can contribute to thoroughness of analysis (Weitzman 2000). The data from the rating exercise was analyzed using Microsoft Excel to determine summary statistics and compare the responses by sector and region. Through the analysis of the qualitative and quantitative data, certain codes and concepts, or core ideas expressed by the participants, could be linked together and recurring themes could be identified. These all contributed to interpretation of the data and theorizing about how the data helped answer the research questions. 3.2 Limitations and generalizability of research As with all research, ensuring the accuracy of the results was important in this study. In general, qualitative research tends to have a high degree of validity in that it "adequately reflects the real meaning of the concept under consideration" (Babbie 2004, 1 Weft Q D A was the software used in this analysis ( 49 143). That is, information is not being misinterpreted. The depth of information characteristic of qualitative studies in general - and this research in particular - thus contributes to a high degree of validity. This study would be considered to have a lower degree of reliability, though, in that the method of inquiry is unlikely to produce the same results each time. Although a non-random sample and relatively small sample size were appropriate for this research given its purpose and chosen method of inquiry, these factors limit the ability to apply the results to and draw conclusions about farmers not involved in the study. However, because the sample is somewhat representative of the larger population and reflects a wide range of experiences and agricultural operations, this researcher assumes that the results are somewhat generalizable to other B.C. farmers actively farming along the urban edge in terms of the pressures and opportunities they face and their responses and adaptations to this context. Certain measures were used to account for limitations in the study and increase the integrity of the research. Triangulation in the form of a multi-method approach helped provide a check on the data and to identify and explore inconsistencies. By recording the interviews, it was possible to go back to the raw data rather than relying on memory. In addition, since direct interviews were conducted, the researcher was able to probe about concepts for clarification to ensure they were being properly understood. Overall, talking with knowledgeable participants, investigating the issues thoroughly, portraying the results accurately and transparently, addressing inconsistencies and taking a systematic approach to the entire process helps to ensure the credibility of the research (Rubin and Rubin 2005). 50 3.3 Ethical considerations Because this research involved human participants, ethical considerations were of primary importance. Following the principle of informed consent (Fontana and Frey 2000), subjects were given information about the study and any associated risks prior to consenting, and participation was voluntary. The confidentiality of responses was assured, and permission was received from participants before recording the interviews. This research was identified as having few physical or emotional risks to participants and was approved by the University of British Columbia Behavioural Research Ethics Board (BREB File #B06-0121, Appendix II). 51 Chapter 4 : Results and Discussion 4.1 Chapter overview The purpose of this chapter is to synthesize the study results and provide answers to the research questions regarding factors influencing agricultural viability on the urban edge. The chapter starts with a detailed description of the sample, followed by an explanation of the coding structure developed in the examination of interview transcripts. As the strength of this research is in its direct communication with farmers, the majority of the discussion is a synthesis of results from the qualitative coding analysis. The responses from the rating scale are incorporated throughout this discussion of factors affecting agricultural viability, which is followed by a full portrayal of the rating scale results and further comments about this tool's usefulness and limitations. Lastly, the chapter touches on a number of broader issues and challenges identified by farmers as facing agriculture in the province. One goal of this chapter is to illustrate the wide range of farmers' opinions, while at the same time highlighting recurrent themes throughout the interviews. Physical limitations of time and space made it impossible to touch on every intriguing insight participants expressed, but many are incorporated into the following discussion. 4.2 Sample description As mentioned in Chapter 3, the sample involved in this study represents a very diverse range of agricultural activities. Fifteen farmers - just over half of the participants - were from the Fraser Valley, nine were from Vancouver Island and five were from the Okanagan Valley (Figure 4.1). The largest group represented was field horticulture, with 5 2 14 participants engaged solely in this sector. Five participants were involved exclusively in livestock production, and six participants were involved in both field horticulture and livestock production as major segments of their operation. Four participants represented non-field horticulture, including greenhouse and nursery production (Figure 4.2). It should be noted that in addition to the six mixed-farm operations above, there was some minor crossover between sectors. For example, some direct-market, field-horticulture operations had a small greenhouse on-site, or had a small number of farm animals for Distribution of participants by region I Fraser Valley • Vancouver Island • Okanagan Valley Figure 4.1 Distribution of participants by region • Field horticulture (only) • Non-field horticulture • Livestock (only) 0 Field horticulture & livestock personal consumption only. This was Figure 4.2 Distribution of participants by sector considered supplemental to the primary agricultural activity and not significant enough to warrant being counted in both categories. In terms of business models, there was representation from both commercial, wholesale-oriented farms and direct-market, retail operations. Six farms in the sample would be considered exclusively commercial farms that wholesaled nearly their entire product. Direct marketing was the primary business model for 12 o f the participants, and 53 11 farms relied significantly on both wholesaling and direct marketing (Figure 4.3)2. There was some minor overlap between business models that is not considered in the above description (e.g. direct-marketing operations that wholesale a small amount of excess product). Agritourism was also an important component of some farms in the study. Although in some cases direct marketing itself may provide an agritourism experience, this thesis will make a distinction between the two, considering agritourism activities - such as farm tours, school group visits, a corn maze, Commercial • Direct Market 0 Commercial & Direct Market Figure 4.3 Distribution of participants by business model hay wagon rides or a haunted barn - to be distinct from the direct sale of goods. Given this definition, 12 farms in the study incorporated agritourism as a regular, important part of their operation, and two farms occasionally engaged in agritourism activities. Thirteen participants were relative or complete newcomers to agriculture in that they were not carrying on a family farm, although some had an agricultural connection through their grandparents (i.e. farming skipped a generation) or from a farm in another country. Sixteen participants represented family agricultural operations of at least two generations, and of these, nine were at least third-generation farms. Four of the 29 participants represented family farms that had been in production for over 100 years. For 17 participants, farming represented their household's main source of income, while six Although equestrian facilities don't engage in direct marketing the same way other farms do, they sti l l rely on the ability to bring people to their operation and were thus classified as direct marketing. 54 farms were supported primarily by outside employment. In the case of four participants, the farm currently represented their primary source of income, but they had previously held other jobs and entered into farming in their retirement or later on in life. Information was not available for two participants. The size of farms in the sample ranged from one hectare to 206 hectares, with an average of 31 and a median of 8 hectares (Figure 4.4). Gross farm income ranged from $15,000 to over $5 million dollars, with an average of just under one million dollars and a median of $350,000 (n = 23). The average age of participants was 49, with a range from 29 to 69 (Figure 4.5, n = 27). Distribution of farm size 12 10 _ 6 1 4 • 1 to 5 6 to 10 11 to 20 21 to 30 31 to 40 41 to 100 101 to 125 to 125 225 Farm size (hectares) Figure 4.4 Distribution of farm size. Note: hectare ranges increase as farm size increases to account for wider size gaps between individual farms. Distribution of participants by age • 25-29 30-34 35-39 40-44 45-49 50-54 55-59 60-64 65-69 Age Figure 4.5 Distribution of participants by age. 55 4.3 Coding categories The process of coding was used to analyze the interview transcripts (see section 3.1.3 for a discussion of the coding process). In creating codes, the researcher attempted to identify concepts, themes and topics that would help answer the research questions. As expected, many of the coding categories created relate directly to questions participants were asked and factors they rated in the rating exercise. For example, participants were probed to find out if they saw the Right to Farm legislation - as described in 3.1.2 - as a benefit of being located in the ALR. Therefore, "Right to Farm" was the code used to mark all text relating to participants' opinions on the Right to Farm legislation. Other coding categories were not directly related to interview questions but came out of the discussion. For example, "urban ignorance" was a topic brought up by many participants, and this label was used to code related passages. Some concepts were coded at a greater level of detail than others, depending on their relevance to the study's objectives. For example, instead of using "negative impacts of urban areas" as a code, the concept was split up into more detailed codes such as "conflict with neighbours," "conflict with urban traffic," and "development pressure," as these were important concepts related to the research questions. However, "food security" was used as a catchall code for a variety of issues and concepts related to food security, such as self-sufficiency and local food systems. Although food security issues provide the broad context for this research, the specific goal of the study was not to explore farmers' opinions on food security. As such, this concept was coded at lower level of detail. As the coding progressed, some codes were collapsed or expanded as deemed appropriate. An additional code of "notable quotes" was also used, as suggested 56 by Rubin and Rubin (2005), for passages that are "well phrased, sum up hours of conversation, or provide a moral to a story," or even "seem to provide a direct answer to the research questions" (205). Figure 4.6 portrays the coding structure developed during the analysis. As there is significant interplay between many of these codes, the organization of this structure could be rearranged in a variety of different ways to show their relationships. Many of these interconnections are highlighted in the following discussion. 1. Urban proximity (general) a. Urban customer base i. Changing food preferences b. New opportunities i. Direct marketing ii. Agritourism c. Rising land values d. Development pressure e. Conflicts with urban traffic f. Conflicts with neighbours/adjacent land uses g- Edge planning II. Agricultural Land Reserve (general) a. Taxes b. Right to Farm legislation III. Role of government (general) a. Bylaws/regulations IV. Exposure a. Location on main road b. Advertising V. Additional factors a. Farmer cooperation b. Farmer division/conflict c. Importance of soil quality/physical characteristics d. Urban education/ignorance e. Consumer trust f. Water issues g- Food security h. i. Lifestyle factors (e.g. aesthetics) General financial viability of farming VI. Notable quotes Figure 4.6 Coding structure 57 4.4 Factors influencing agricultural viability 4.4.1 Opportunities for direct farm marketing The results of the analysis provide evidence for the trends identified in Chapter 2 regarding the growth and prevalence of direct farm marketing in British Columbia. The interviews indicate the importance of this business model to fanners and provide additional insight as to why direct marketing is experiencing such growth. As mentioned above, 23 of the farms surveyed used direct farm marketing to some extent, and it was the primary business model for 12 of these farms. Many farmers considered the ability to market products directly from their farm as being very important to their viability (Table 4.1). Overall Rating Region Sector Business Model FV VI OK FH NFH LV CM DM Opportunities for direct farm marketing 7.2 5.3 8.7 9.6 8.6 8.7 5.7 6.5 8.8 Table 4.1 Rating scale results: direct marketing. Note: FV = Fraser Valley, VI = Vancouver Island, OK = Okanagan, FH = field horticulture, NFH = non-field horticulture, LV = livestock, CM = commercial, DM = direct market. Rating scale responses range from one to 10, with one meaning not at all important and 10 meaning very important. Farmers cited a variety of reasons for going into direct marketing. Probably the most significant factor pushing farmers out of more traditional business models and into direct marketing is the difficulty of making a living by selling through commercial, wholesale avenues. As one farmer said, "Over the years I've sold to lots of places like Safeway, SuperValu, Overwaitea.. .but there's no dollar bills to it at the end of the day" (Interview 3). Some farmers stated that international competition and the lower costs of production in other countries make it impossible for Canadian farmers to compete on price. One farmer commented that, "The imports are killing us because these people 58 don't have to live with our system of high taxation and don't have to live with our regulations" (Interview 28). Another factor pushing farmers into direct marketing is the desire to spread out risk. One farmer engaging in both commercial farming and direct marketing explains his decision to diversify his farm's marketing strategies: "And so we've diversified from that point because it was sort of feast to famine; you had all your eggs in one basket.. .now we're a little more rounded to weather more storms with being diversified" (Interview 20). Farmers looking for an economically viable alternative to commercial agriculture are often drawn to direct marketing, a model they see as capturing a larger portion of the consumer dollar and providing greater financial returns. A poultry farmer who had diversified into direct marketing explained its financial attraction, saying that she was able to make as much money on the 5 percent of birds she sold directly from her farm as she did on the 95 percent that were sold commercially. Although she acknowledged there was a limit to the number of birds she could sell this way: "There's a good market for good quality, but there's not a really big market for it" (Interview 17). Participants recognized that the success of direct marketing is fueled by large urban populations who haven't grown up farming and for whom coming out to a farm to shop is a novelty. This reliance on urban populations is especially characteristic of agritourism. One participant operating a large direct marketing and agritourism operation explained the attraction: All the new people coming from out of town are like tourists in that they don't have that agricultural background. So, if you're talking about a farm experience, there's something there that is valued to them. Where an old-timer living on the land all his life, growing up on a farm, isn't going to get excited about a wagon tour on a farm. (Interview 12) 59 Agritourism is often associated with direct marketing operations, but it can be an asset to commercial farms as well. One commercial farmer stated that operating a corn maze helped with branding and reinforced the farm's commercial presence in the region, as urban tourists at the maze would then look for the farm's produce in grocery stores. Participants also recognized changing consumer preferences as an important reason consumers were increasingly buying food directly from farmers. Food safety was identified as a growing concern among consumers, especially regarding meat products: People come here because they consider us safer.. .They don't come here for cheap - we don't offer cheap. Ours are competitive but they're not cheaper. They come here because they want to see where you grow your birds. They want to see the kind of area you have, whether you're nice and clean, or most importantly, that you didn't put a whole bunch of stuff in them that they don't know anything about. (Interview 17) Other participants identified growing consumer demand for products that are fresh, flavourful, grown naturally, unique, and local. They cited trends such as the 100-mile diet and restaurants sourcing local food as driving direct marketing. Value-added products such as pies and jams were also important to participants. A leading-edge direct marketer provided insight to both the challenges and benefits of this trend: It was a big thing for us just to jump in to the value-added because that's a whole other game. If you're a farmer you can grow a lot of different crops; that really wasn't a huge stretch for me. But value-added is very different. But people love it. The customers, they love that connection. They love to know that we grew it and we had some staff come and peel those apples and turn them into the best apple pie they ever put their teeth into. And so they really connect, and you know the price becomes not irrelevant, but certainly secondary. And so for Thanksgiving, Safeway can have two pumpkin pies for $3.99 and we're selling ours for nine bucks. And you know, it's a non-issue. (Interview 8) As this farmer points out, the effort required to learn new skills and move farm operations in innovative directions such as agritourism and value-added can have significant rewards. 60 Taken in combination with the sources cited in Chapter 2, the study results provide strong evidence for the growth and importance of direct marketing to B.C. farmers. This business model is not appealing to all farmers, though, and some participants expressed no desire to deal with the "commotion" of interacting directly with customers (Interview 21). However, many of the farmers in the sample did identify direct marketing and its benefits as very important to their financial viability, and they saw this business model as the future of agriculture. Since opportunities for direct marketing and agritourism are dependent upon proximity to a large customer base, the ability of participants to remain farming near urban areas is very important to their success. For this reason, British Columbia's high rates of urbanization and the overlay of farmland and urban areas provide the perfect setting for direct marketing initiatives to flourish. 4.4.2 Proximity to urban areas Participants were asked more generally about how proximity to urban areas affects their operations (Table 4.2). For many of the direct farm marketers, urban areas were synonymous with their customer base and so this factor significantly affected their viability. As one direct marketer stated: Location is key. If I had started this somewhere else, in a less urban area, it wouldn't be successful. You have to have the populace around you to be successful in the format I'm in. (Interview 26) Overall Rating Region Sector Business Model FV VI OK FH NFH LV CM DM Proximity to urban area 7.3 6.5 8 8.2 7.6 8.3 6.3 6.7 8 Table 4.2 Rating scale results: proximity to urban area. Note: FV = Fraser Valley, VI = Vancouver Island, OK = Okanagan, FH = field horticulture, NFH = non-field horticulture, LV = livestock, CM = commercial, DM = direct market. Rating scale responses range from one to 10, with one meaning not at all important and 10 meaning very important. 61 Some participants - and especially newcomers to the industry - recognized the opportunities afforded by direct farm marketing, agritourism and niche markets and so specifically located their operation in order to take advantage of an urban customer base. Other farmers who didn't locate near an urban area on purpose - such as long-running family farms or farmers who started off with the intention to only sell wholesale - have seen urban areas grow up around them and are adapting to these circumstances. This adaptation often involves transitioning from commercial to direct marketing or using both business models, which is what 11 farms in the sample do. Operations such as equestrian facilities, although not employing direct marketing in the same sense that other farmers do, still rely on an urban clientele and proximity is extremely important: You can't run this kind of business the further away you get.... My criteria [for locating] were close enough to a population centre that you can keep your once-a-week lesson program filled, which means that you really need to be no more than a half an hour away. If you get more than that people just won't do it. It's too far. For a once-a-weeker, they're not interested.. .it needs to be close enough that mum and dad can get them here easily. (Interview 24) Some farmers, especially commercial operators, were somewhat indifferent to their urban-edge setting - it was simply the context in which they found themselves and not critical to their success. Many did mention it was a benefit to be close to urban centres since their cost to transport goods would be higher if they were further away. For a number of farmers, being close to an urban area was personally beneficial in terms of proximity to amenities such as schools and entertainment - they were able to have the best of both the urban and rural lifestyle. Other participants would actually have preferred to be in a less populated area, but settled in a busier location for the benefit of the farm: Just from an aesthetic point of view we would have liked something a little quieter. But then you'd trade that off for something with less exposure. And for us the exposure was very important. (Interview 1) 62 Urban areas were also considered a mixed blessing, as potential customers were also potential sources of conflict and vice versa. One participant especially felt that an urban-edge location was a less-than-ideal setting for his farm, saying that, "When you live too close to an urban area there's too many forces at play to be able to farm properly" (Interview 22). Even some participants who viewed urban proximity to be critical to their operation's current success felt that in the future, the continued growth of urban regions would squeeze them out of the area. One participant commented about a neighbouring property that would be developed: "I think that's what you call the beginning of the end. Our lifespan here is limited" (Interview 17). Since the factor of urban proximity was rated from many different perspectives, it is difficult to interpret the actual numeric rating. However, it's evident from the interviews that the overlay of prime farmland and population centres creates a unique environment for agriculture that has both positive and negative implications for almost all farmers. 4.4.3 Location on a main road In addition to being generally located near an urban area, many participants identified being located specifically on a main road as an important factor affecting their viability (Table 4.3). Overall Rating Region Sector Business Model FV VI OK FH NFH LV CM DM Location/visibility on main road/highway 6.6 4.8 8.6 7.6 7.2 7 6.3 5.5 7.7 Table 4.3 Rating scale results: location on main road. Note: FV = Fraser Valley, VI = Vancouver Island, OK = Okanagan, FH = field horticulture, NFH = non-field horticulture, LV = livestock, C M = commercial, DM = direct market. Rating scale responses range from one to 10, with one meaning not at all important and 10 meaning very important. 63 This significance is once again related to the growth in direct marketing and the need to draw customers directly to the farm. Farms, like other business, are now relying on the "drive-by" market - that is, customers who stop by because they saw the farm or a sign from the road, as opposed to those who were specifically coming to the farm because they knew it was there. Some participants with long-running farms simply found themselves already located on a main road, which they used to their benefit: The direct marketing on the farm depends on the customers passing by. They say there w i l l be 20,000 families in this.. .development.. .and that's all traffic by our door. We are fortunate that we are located where we are. The other farmers we have contact with are off the beaten track and have to advertise their location. [Being on the road is] very beneficial. Location, location, location! (Interview 5) The responses from those who were newer to agriculture indicate that location on a main road was an important criterion by which they evaluated potential sites: One of the reasons we bought this place is because it was right along the highway and we have 700 feet of highway frontage. So for u-pick we get all the traffic that's coming up and down the highway, and get holiday, vacation people as well . So it's the visibility. (Interview 10). Even for farms with a more specific clientele, such as equestrian facilities, being located along a road was important for ease o f access and advertising potential. Participants who were not located along a main road were still able to operate viable operations; the tradeoff was often in the amount of money spent on advertising. A s one farmer said, "The best advertising is being on the highway" (Interview 7). One farmer who was not located on a main road said that, "One of the common comments we get here is we're hard to find. I think i f we were easier to find, i f there was just literally more traffic going by, we would get more business" (Interview 24). Some participants who couldn't rely on the drive-by factor instead worked to create a name for themselves 64 and become a well-known destination farm, so people would specifically search them out. One participant in this situation said that despite the extra effort required to attract people, the rural ambiance provided by their more out-of-the way location was an asset: It's a lot more work because we're not on a highway, and work is money. Our budget for marketing wouldn't be there if we were on a highway. A highway is a marketing budget. But we also have a different atmosphere because of where we are. And it's very quiet and nice and it's great and people sit on that deck literally for hours. And the longer they're here, the more money they spend. (Interview 8 ) In general, the importance of location on a main road was viewed as having significant potential to affect participants' viability - especially direct marketers. This provides a good example of how physical factors such as soil quality become secondary to factors such as location and visibility for some producers when making business decisions and locating their operation. 4.4.4 Soil quality and physical characteristics of land As the traditional criteria by which agricultural capability is measured, it was expected that soil quality and the physical characteristics of farmland would be important to participants (Table 4.4). Overall Rating Region Sector Business Model FV VI OK FH NFH LV CM DM Physical quality of land 7.9 8.2 8.1 6.6 8.2 7.7 8 8.3 7.9 Table 4.4 Rating scale results: physical quality of land. Note: FV = Fraser Valley, VI = Vancouver Island, OK = Okanagan, FH = field horticulture, NFH = non-field horticulture, LV = livestock, CM = commercial, DM = direct market. Rating scale responses range from one to 10, with one meaning not at all important and 10 meaning very important. As anticipated, the results indicate that this factor was more important for certain types of operations - such as field horticulture - than others. However, farmland's physical 65 qualities turned out to be more significant to some groups than was originally expected. It was thought that soil quality would not be important to livestock operations, such as commercial poultry farms, because these operations are relatively land detached. Although this was true for some, others found that soil quality was increasingly important to their operation because they were diversifying into field horticulture and direct marketing. Some livestock operations also grew crops for feed and relied on the land in that respect. Soil quality was also important to equestrian facilities in terms of the nutritional quality of hay for grazing as well as footing for horses. Non-field horticulture was the least-dependent upon the soil. One nursery operator stated, "We're basically destroying the agricultural capability of this piece of land.. .What I think now if I needed land for a nursery would be a piece of flat gravel" (Interview 7). For some greenhouse operators who had a degree of field horticulture on their farm, soil quality was a more important factor. The importance of soil quality has implications at both the farm and landscape scale. One participant stated that, "One of the beauties of being diversified to the point of insanity is that you really do have the opportunity to rotate your crops around," which he considered to be an advantage in maintaining the integrity of the soil (Interview 8). Diversification can also benefit farmers in that they are able to take advantage of varying soil conditions on their farm by matching different crop requirements to the specific qualities of the land. This principal can also be applied to variations in land capabilities on a larger scale, with different land classes being suited to various types of agricultural operations. Access to prime land with high productive capabilities is critical to some operations, while more marginal farmland is still suitable for a variety of activities that 66 can keep the land in agricultural use. One participant discussed her proposal to build an equestrian facility: When I put the proposal in to the Land Commission to do this here, they then go and do a study and look at the land and figure out what the land really is good for and you know, this [operation] keeps it in the Land Reserve. It's still doing something agricultural.. .and I think the Land Commission was quite pleased to see that. Because really, like I said, the only other thing it's really any good for is blueberries. It's too boggy. (Interview 24) Another important insight came out of the analysis that is directly related to the purpose of this research. Some participants said that even though their operation relied on soil quality for production, it played a very small role in denning their success. As one participant put it, "The physical factors are almost beside the point" in determining viability because there are so many other factors that have a greater influence on their operation (Interview 8). Another farmer said, "You have to be able to sell. Lots of people can produce good product" (Interview 20). This insight into this interplay between soil quality and other factors influencing viability was summed up by another participant: It's pretty hard to find a piece of dirt that won't grow the things we want...If I was to go out.. .and I knew what I know, and I was looking for a valuable piece of land, I would look at its location to the market. Access to the market is primary.. .All those non-traditional influences have a greater role only because the capabilities of the soil and the climate far outstrip, I'd say they're almost limitless because.. .our capabilities are that we can grow just about anything that we want or anything you choose. So all those other things that were traditionally secondary become primary because the primary capabilities aren't a concern. Because we're so blessed. (Interview 12) In other words, the remaining farmland in British Columbia all has some degree of physical agricultural capability, and it will depend on a variety of other factors as to whether or not farms can be successful. Taken together, these and other comments indicate the increasingly complex environment in which farmers operate, which is due in part to the growing impact of urban areas and reliance on direct marketing. Physically 67 productive land is a necessary but insufficient factor to allow for a viable agricultural operation, and this highlights the importance of assessing other non-physical factors that are impacting farmers. A note of caution is required against the misinterpretation of these results regarding the importance of soil quality. Moving outside of the biophysical criteria traditionally used to define agricultural capability is important in order to recognize the influence that a variety of factors have on the ability of farms to operate successfully. However, the insights highlighted in the previous paragraph do not indicate that soil quality is of no importance, it is simply not the only or even the primary factor determining the viability of farms because, as the one farmer pointed out, the province is so blessed with almost limitless physical capabilities. But if those capabilities were removed, there would be negative implications for agriculture. Soil quality is still of utmost importance to farmers, and many participants in the study — including those who were not as dependent upon the soil themselves - were very concerned about the loss of prime farmland in the province. Because of trends toward diversification, the physical capabilities of the land are actually becoming more important to farmers for whom it would otherwise not be a significant factor - for example, poultry farms adding market gardens to their operation. If anything, these results should indicate the great potential for agricultural land even of limited soil quality. Recall the example of the UBC Farm from Chapter 2 and how the farm's urban context provided the possibility for a viable operation despite significant physical limitations. By remaining grounded in the biophysical assessment of land while including the consideration of other factors, these insights should expand our notion of 68 how land can be used for agricultural purposes and allow us to see greater possibilities for farmland parcels. 4.4.5 Conflict with neighbours One negative aspect of being located near urban areas is the increased potential for conflicts with neighbours. This potential or actual conflict was a critical factor for all types of farmers, although its significance is not necessarily reflected in the rating scale results (Table 4.5). Even if participants thought conflict was an important factor, it was often something they just dealt with as part of their urban location. Overall Rating Region Sector Business Model FV VI OK FH NFH LV CM DM Conflicts with neighbours 5.1 5.2 5 5.4 4.9 4 5.7 5.4 4.9 Table 4.5 Rating scale results: conflict with neighbours. Note: FV = Fraser Valley, VI = Vancouver Island, OK = Okanagan, FH = field horticulture, NFH = non-field horticulture, LV = livestock, CM = commercial, DM = direct market. Rating scale responses range from one to 10, with one meaning not at all important and 10 meaning very important. Many participants said that this factor has grown tremendously in importance as urban areas have continued to expand outward and as urban dwellers are attracted to the rural lifestyle and move into the country: All these people coming in are urban people and they don't always understand what it means to be a farmer. It's not just a white picket fence. A farmer is manure, a farmer is all kinds of things.. .There are a lot of things you do as a farmer that may or may not offend the general public. Fortunately most people understand but there are some that don't.. .The same person.. .that thinks it's just a beautiful picturesque location is appalled that you have to put manure on the grass to make it grow. (Interview 26) It was generally expected that conflict would be more of an issue for livestock farms than other operations due to issues such as smell, although the results did not confirm this. 69 However, the few participants who expressed a desire to relocate to a less populated area were livestock farmers, and the fact that few livestock operations were involved in the study indicates they may be less inclined to locate near urban areas. The average ratings in Table 4.4 provide a conservative estimate of the importance of conflict to farmers. Many farmers gave the factor a rating of medium importance, as they themselves had been "lucky" so far and had avoided conflict due to relative isolation, natural buffers or understanding neighbours. However, they still considered the potential for conflict to be very significant overall. Many farmers said this factor would become increasingly important, and would receive higher ratings in terms of its potential impact on their operations in the future. For some farmers, it was not only potential conflict that was a consideration but actual conflict. Instances of trespassing, vandalism, theft and garbage dumping were not uncommon. One couple seemed to have a never-ending string of problems with their urban neighbours, sometimes significant: We had a mare about to foal in our pasture, and every Halloween same thing -some yahoo decides he's going to fire fireworks into our field.. .and he, just for whatever reason decided to do it early.. .that year that the mare was in there. The mare bolted and she lost the foal. I mean that probably cost us a couple, at least two or three thousand dollars...and that's just because they have no respect for farms. (Interview 22) One participant had invested in 24-hour security, and another was looking into it. Even seemingly-innocent acts by urban neighbours caused strife for farmers: When we first fenced the place and had horses down in the bottom paddock, I look out in amazement and here's a guy.. .helping his toddler through the wood fence and into the paddock.. .1 raced down there on my bike and yelled at the guy.. .It's a perfect example of what people do. Now I've got signs up but they still do things like feed horses which I'm not real happy about. There's the liability issue if they would get their finger bit off and we don't know what they're feeding them - some things are toxic to livestock. (Interview 25) 70 Some participants also expressed a "we were here first" attitude, showing frustration at the fact that normal agricultural practices they had engaged in for years were suddenly a problem because they were now bordered by residential development. In many cases, conflict with urban neighbours carried financial consequences, and was also a huge, ongoing headache for the farmers who were affected. Conflict related to the increased traffic levels that come with urbanization was also an issue for some farmers, and this factor was rated separately (Table 4.6). One farmer stated, "There have been quite a few near-accidents with people trying to get around you and almost hitting tractors. Every farmer around here has been abused verbally" (Interview 9). Many farmers identified this type of conflict as more of an annoyance or a disappointment than significantly impacting the viability of their operations, and it was an issue they simply dealt with. Other participants saw no downside to growing traffic levels because of the potential benefits it had for their farms in terms of increased business. Overall Rating Region Sector Business Model FV VI OK FH NFH LV CM DM Conflicts with traffic 4.3 4.5 4.3 3.6 4.2 3.7 4.5 4.7 3.7 Table 4.6 Rating scale results: conflict with traffic. Note: FV = Fraser Valley, VI = Vancouver Island, OK = Okanagan, FH = field horticulture, NFH = non-field horticulture, LV = livestock, CM = commercial, DM = direct market. Rating scale responses range from one to 10, with one meaning not at all important and 10 meaning very important. As mentioned in Chapter 3, the Farm Practices Protection Act (or Right to Farm Act) protects farmers in the A L R who engage in "normal farm practices" from lawsuits regarding nuisances such as dust, noise and odours. Many farmers saw this legislation as a significant benefit to their operations and felt it provided security in the face of 71 potential conflict: "The Right to Farm is so key for agriculture.. .whether you've got a tractor going at night, you don't want people calling and complaining about that. There's just certain things.. .basically the Right to Farm is very key for us" (Interview 4). Another said that, "It keeps us growing. If we didn't have it we would have a lot more frivolous lawsuits" (Interview 28). Some participants, even though they recognized this legal protection would be in their favour, said it wouldn't keep them around in the face of conflict: "I've always said if I'm not welcome, I'll leave... I know other people who have been in the situation where their neighbors are a constant drag on their life, and I won't go there" (Interview 17). Other participants saw the Right to Farm Act as providing very little protection for agriculture, stating that even with its supposed protection, there is "an erosion of a whole bunch of aspects of [agriculture].. .your right to farm is... almost gone. There is more and more pressure for municipalities to enact bylaws [restricting agriculture]... It will be a little bit at a time - death by a thousand cuts" (Interview 22). Another said that the fact "you happen to be on agricultural land and what you do is okay...doesn't stop the neighbours from complaining. And if they complain loudly enough, that part of the operation will get shut down" (Interview 24). One farmer felt that the Right to Farm Act actually made it more likely that farmers themselves would be inconsiderate neighbours, as they had the Act's legal protection to fall back on. One limitation of the Right to Farm Act alluded to in the interviews is the problem of defining what constitutes a "normal" farm practice. With the continued growth in direct marketing and agritourism, farmers' ability to sell their product is just as vital to their viability as is their ability to grow it. The tools that may be necessary to do 72 this often look very different from traditional farming practices, involving lights and sound systems for agritourism activities or community events that draw large crowds and traffic - and potentially the ire of neighbours. The usefulness of the Farm Practices Protection Act may be somewhat dependent upon how well it can incorporate non-traditional farm practices into its scope of protection. This is especially true since direct marketers' reliance on urban proximity places them in a position where they have the potential to be significantly impacted by conflict with urban neighbours. The Right to Farm legislation is an important tool to address urban-agricultural conflict. However, as Penfold (1989) points out, "Right-to-farm legislation may protect farmers from litigation, but the reality of conflict will remain" (74). If this legislation is viewed as the primary solution to the problem, it could preclude the effective planning and communication that are needed to prevent and reduce conflict in the first place. Conflict with urban neighbors is already a pressing issue for many farmers, and it will only become more important in the future. Almost all farmers felt that maintaining good relationships with neighbours was critical, and many made an effort to do this through activities such as holding community barbeques, Christmas caroling and simply communicating with neighbors. One participant felt that farmers needed more educational resources on how to be good neighbours, and nearly all of the participants linked the prevalence of conflicts to a general disrespect and ignorance of agriculture among urban populations. However, urban neighbours are also entitled to reasonable protection from potentially harmful activities, and there needs to be acknowledgement that "nuisance and conflict can flow in two directions" (Smith 1998, 8-8). Preventing 73 conflict from being a burden to either group will require education, mutual understanding, open lines of communication and give and take from both sides. 4.4.6 Municipal bylaws Due to the close proximity of high quality farmland and urban areas in British Columbia, many farmers are finding themselves within city boundaries and subject to municipal bylaws. The study results indicate that these bylaws are viewed as having varying levels of impact on agricultural viability (Table 4.7). This factor was more Overall Rating Region Sector Business Model FV VI OK FH NFH LV CM DM Municipal bylaws 5.7 4.6 7 6.4 6.5 5 4.5 5.4 6.2 Table 4.7 Rating scale results: municipal bylaws. Note: FV = Fraser Valley, VI = Vancouver Island, OK = Okanagan, FH = field horticulture, NFH = non-field horticulture, LV = livestock, CM = commercial, DM = direct market. Rating scale responses range from one to 10, with one meaning not at all important and 10 meaning very important. important for some participants than others, and results seemed to vary not as much based on sector, region or business model as on personal experience. Some farmers viewed compliance with bylaws as just something to be dealt with and not having a significant impact on their operation. Others considered bylaws to have an important influence on their farm. Especially for direct marketers, bylaws regulating signage were a factor, as these operations often rely on the ability to draw in customers through roadside advertising: So things that affect us now and that we have to be a little sensitive about are the sign bylaws and what they allow for signage. But even then we probably push the envelope because signs are very important to us for that seasonal period - that a lot of people know you're down there in that area that they're really hoping to find a sign that will direct them right to your front door. (Interview 1) 74 Another farmer commented that, "The bylaws are tough on farmers. We're allowed to have that sign 56 days a year -1 have it up 360. And when they tell me to put it down, I bring it down and they come by and inspect" (Interview 20). For these farmers, bylaws can have a significant impact on their operation. Bylaws regulating setback requirements were also considered important by some operators: I think part of the problem with maintaining farmland is the restrictions they apply to it.. .we cannot do anything within 50 feet of the edge of the property. Well, you really reduce the amount of space.. .Based on the size of the property.. .1 think there's one place in the entire field where I could actually build, and only one building. (Interview 17) Even if setback bylaws didn't directly affect participants, some still saw them as limiting, especially in consideration of parcel subdivisions: On occasion they allow a large parcel to be subdivided down into half.. .We don't have too many [large parcels] left...I have a little concern with respect to that because maybe that might be a reasonable-sized dairy farm. But if it's two 50-acre parcels it's no longer good enough for a dairy farm. And then with the setback restrictions that exist, [there's] probably not enough parcels of land around that satisfy the setbacks that you need in order to be able to satisfy the bylaw requirements they've got. So in some respect those things are going to be harder to for some people to get into the business. (Interview 11) As another participant summarized, "What the hell can you do with 20 acres? (Interview 24). Although many farmers in the sample do provide evidence that agricultural operations can operate successfully on small parcels, the viability of certain sectors is indeed dependent on access to parcels of a minimum size, and "the absence of larger parcels of underutilized agricultural land is of particular concern" (B.C. Ministry of Agriculture and Lands 2005a). Bylaws regulating setback requirements, especially in combination with small parcel sizes, can be a key factor for some farmers. 75 Municipal bylaws were seen as important to some participants who expressed that the only reason they're able to operate is because the municipality supports them and hasn't passed bylaws that would force them out. Another participant stated that his farm had enough community support that it would be extremely difficult for the municipality to shut them down even if it wanted to. Participants also had opinions on dealing with municipalities to get permits or bylaw variances: You can get variances, but they fight you every inch of the way. You haven't got a hope in hell.. .The sheer fact that I know people and they know me has helped me. But I shouldn't have to rely on that. New people coming in shouldn't have to rely on that. And they might get a whole bunch more people wanting to farm close to an urban society if they didn't have to go through a million loopholes and possibilities of failure. (Interview 17) Another farmer said that when she was starting her operation, the municipality had been on the verge of requiring her to follow commercial building codes. This would have been impossible for her to do, but, "Fortunately the inspector for this area happens to be a farm boy" who understood agriculture (Interview 24). One participant's experience expresses the frustration farmers have with municipalities: By and large I would say we've got a reasonable level of support [from the city]. But in the last two to three years I've had to go make a few trips to city hall to say, what in the world is going on? Do you guys want us here? We tried to get a building permit do a relatively small thing and they said, well you've got to upgrade the road and put in sidewalks, and you go, you know what guys? This is a seasonal family business. We can't do that. So I can never expand? Because if that's what you're saying, then I'm moving. I don't have to be here. .. .You know, you get past the engineering branch and you get to in this case more to the council level and they go, no we understand that you bring in thousands of visitors, you're important to our community and agriculture is important and we're going to make this work for you. But that's what I'm saying, that it becomes quite political and every jurisdiction is very different. (Interview 8) Another farmer thought that it wasn't necessarily the case that municipalities want to disallow certain activities or restrict agriculture, but that their bylaws haven't kept pace 76 with the growth of agriculture - especially in direct marketing and agritourism - and don't account for the needs or innovative practices of these initiatives. One participant in a heavily populated area also indicated that the lack of enforcement for neighbours blatantly disregarding bylaws had a negative impact on his operation. In general, municipal bylaws influence many farmers to some degree. The interviews identified significant variation among municipalities' attitudes toward agriculture, with some being seen as very supportive of farming and others viewed as very unsupportive or completely ignorant of agricultural activities. This variation, in addition to the fact that farmers have to rely on luck and being well-known in the community to deal successfully with municipalities, is not a positive trend and can lead to uncertainty for many farmers. Bylaws often reflect the attitudes of municipalities and communities - or in some cases may just be outdated - and can place significant limitations on some types of farms. However, participants provided evidence that there were ways to work with municipalities and that bylaws could be beneficial as long as they respected agriculture. 4.4.7 Farmer cooperation One factor identified from the interviews as impacting agricultural viability was the importance of farmer cooperation. Participants were asked to rate the significance of farmer groups, such as industry associations or direct marketing associations (Table 4.8). Overall Rating Region Sector Business Model FV VI OK FH NFH LV CM DM Farmer networks 7.4 7.4 7.2 8 7.4 8.3 7.5 7.4 7.5 Table 4.8 Rating scale results: farmer networks. Note: FV = Fraser Valley, VI = Vancouver Island, OK = Okanagan, FH = field horticulture, NFH = non-field horticulture, LV = livestock, CM = commercial, DM = direct market. Rating scale responses range from one to 10, with one meaning not at all important and 10 meaning very important. 77 Many participants found these associations beneficial in terms of education and resources, being able to keep up with what was new in the industry and connecting farmers, while some found them relatively unimportant. Some participants cited attending conferences put on by direct marketing groups as critical to their success, as they were able to learn about this new business model and the skills it requires through the experiences of other farmers. During conversations with the study participants, it was revealed that the importance of farmer cooperation extended beyond the borders of these formal groups and gatherings, and informal farmer cooperation was often seen as critical to the success of farmers and to the viability of the agricultural industry. Cooperation with neighbouring farmers was seen as vital for community branding and identity to be developed: If somebody starts a stand across the road and then we get into a price war, that's not a good thing. However, if somebody puts a fruit stand across the road and the tour operator says, oh, there is a place to go, that's the place where the fruit stands are.. .So it's helping my neighbour learn how to do it well... I would like my neighbours - and what many would perceive as competition -1 would like them to be as successful as ourselves because in order for us to have a community brand, such as Oliver is now the Wine Capital of Canada.. .for us to get to that level we have to have successful operators... it's pretty hard to do branding [without cooperation]. (Interview 12) As this farmer points out, despite the potential for competition, this type of relationship can actually benefit all farmers involved by drawing more people to the region overall. Community branding can be seen as a large-scale implementation of the principle on which farmers markets operate, whereby the presence of multiple vendors and a greater diversity of goods can draw more shoppers than individual operators would likely attract on their own. Another example of community branding is the Circle Farm Tour strategy adopted by some areas in British Columbia to promote their agricultural producers 78 ( Community branding also can extend beyond agriculture into a wider range of local business. One participant discussed how this can benefit communities: I try to support the other small businesses. I'm a really good cross promoter. I love handing this [tourism guide] and saying, if you stay overnight, maybe you'd want to try this place. .. .I'll tell you stop at the little shop on the corner and if you'd like to stop for lunch I know three good places and if you need gas.. .so like the spin offs that they get from people like me that do that is just amazing.. .but people don't know that.. .1 think just to get people out and about helps everybody, whereas the people seeing, oh, you're advertising for [your own farm], they don't realize everybody in [the community] is going to benefit from that. (Interview 23) Farmers can also unintentionally help each other just by virtue of their diversity and proximity to other farmers. Some participants with smaller farms stated that large farms, such as dairy operations, keep other agricultural services in business. This makes these important services available to smaller operators who, on their own, would not provide enough business to keep these services around. Despite the fact that many farmers considered cooperation to be a critical factor influencing their viability, there was considerable evidence of division among farmers. Occasionally these divisions were expressed between newcomers to the industry and long-time farmers. As one participant said, "You can't talk to old farmers. It's like they have the moral authority because they've been here for 110 years. So there's more conflict with adjacent farmers than with the urban population" (Interview 25). More often, though, division existed between different sectors, with some debate over what constitutes a "real" farmer. Some criticized the supply management system, likening it to industry as opposed to farming. One direct marketer said his type of operation was often viewed an excuse to sell gifts, although no participants in the sample expressed this sentiment. Horse operations took issue with how they were often viewed, saying "We 79 don't want to be pet stock, thank you very much.. .that makes absolutely no sense. They're livestock" (Interview 24). Another added: It's frustrating for people [like us] who buy local hay and grain and support the feed sources.. .they don't see the ground level of people who are breeding and training, the ones that are adding value to the horse industry. They don't see that contribution to agriculture. (Interview 25) Greenhouse operations were also criticized: "It's covered is that any different from...residential developments? I guess it's agricultural production but as far as how it affects the land" (Interview 1 ) . With the incredibly diverse range of agriculture operations in British Columbia and the continued evolution of farming, differences will continue to exist and grow between farm types. However, participants involved in all these types of operations did view themselves as farmers and were faced with common pressures on the agriculture industry, such as rising costs, increasing international competition, varied levels of government support and urban growth. It may be the case that there are more commonalities than differences among farmers in the province, and recognizing this fact could be beneficial to the agriculture industry. As one participant commented, "Farm groups are splintered.. .there are so many different lobbying efforts. We have to work together but we're all at fault...Within agriculture, we need to band together more and speak with one voice" (Interview 28). There could be huge gains to be realized from working together to support positive changes for agriculture in the province. This goal could be facilitated by working through the more formal industry and direct marketing associations that would be better equipped to coordinate this effort than would individual farmers. 80 Overall, participants' comments highlight the importance of formal farming organizations and the presence of a strong agricultural community, and yet they are also indicative of division between farmers and of the significant work needed to bridge these gaps. Many fanners in the sample saw cooperation between farmers as key to their success and think this factor will play a significant role in determining the viability of individual farms as well as the agricultural industry as a whole. 4.4.8 Proximity to agricultural services Study participants were asked about their proximity to other agricultural services and supporting infrastructure and how important this factor was to the viability of their operations (Table 4.9). Although this factor was not considered extremely important in defining farmers' viability, this evaluation doesn't necessarily tell the whole story. Especially in the Fraser Valley, many farmers had a hard time imagining a situation in which these supporting services and infrastructure would not be close by - their entire experience in agriculture has been to have everything readily accessible. Thus, this factor is likely important, but simply hasn't been an issue for many of the participants who take the proximity for these services for granted. Those who were able to picture a scenario in which these services were less accessible realized the added costs that would add to their operation and recognized the factor's significance. Overall Rating Region Sector Business Model FV VI OK FH NFH LV CM DM Proximity to agricultural services 5.6 6.1 5.4 4.6 5.5 3.7 6.5 6.4 5.5 Table 4.9 Rating scale results: proximity to agricultural services. Note: FV = Fraser Valley, VI = Vancouver Island, OK = Okanagan, FH = field horticulture, NFH = non-field horticulture, LV = livestock, CM = commercial, DM = direct market. Rating scale responses range from one to 10, with one meaning not at all important and 10 meaning very important. 81 Perhaps a more accurate sense of this factor's importance can be gained by looking at the situation on Vancouver Island, where participants tended to cite a lack of agricultural infrastructure as having a negative impact on their operation. This concern was voiced especially in relation to the lack of livestock processing facilities and higher costs, and one participant said the result of this is that the poultry industry is leaving the Island. Another participant explained: I was just over on the Mainland the other day, went to that farm show there and I thought, boy that would be nice to be over there. I didn't really realize before that everything you need, if you want something for your farm, you can just go and get it over in Abbotsford or Langley or wherever. Whereas here, it's so hard to find anything and there's really not much support for agriculture infrastructure-wise. . .If we had more [blueberries] than we could sell, then where do you take them?...On the Mainland you can have two acres of blueberries and take them to one of the packing plants.. .or if you have pigs.. .and you can't sell them you just take them to the auction or raise them up and take them to the packing plant. Whereas here there's nowhere to go, there's no one to sell them to, there's no one to buy them. There's no processors. And it's so expensive to take them on the ferry all the time. (Interview 10) It was suggested by one participant that the lack of agricultural services on the Island was due to changes in the supply management rules for dairy operations, which caused a number of dairy farms to leave the Island. As mentioned in the previous section, these are the types of farms that keep agricultural services around, and once they left, so did the supporting infrastructure. This makes it more costly for remaining farms to continue to operate, and one participant stated that if costs on the Island go up too much more, she won't be able to be remain competitive in the industry. A lack of veterinary services on the Island was also cited as problematic for livestock farmers. This greater concern among participants on the Island regarding the lack of agricultural services is not necessarily reflected in the rating scale results. As one farmer explained, it's a huge factor affecting the agriculture on the Island overall, but it did not play a significant role in her 82 decision to start her farm there as she was committed to staying on the Island for other reasons. Although proximity to agricultural services was not considered by all farmers to be very important, the loss of this supporting infrastructure can impact farmers' viability by translating into increased costs. The case of Vancouver Island provides evidence of this, and indicates that the significance of supporting services and industries may not be fully appreciated until they are gone. This underscores the importance of maintaining complete farm communities. The words of a 1977 Canada Land Inventory report, in its discussion of reclaiming unused farmland, still seem applicable: Perhaps more important than the damage to the land itself is the loss of physical and human infrastructures from farming areas. As farmland is removed from production, storage facilities and farm-oriented marketing facilities are forced out of business and substantial investment is required for their return. Farming skills are also lost. The reclamation of farmland is therefore extremely expensive... the immediate costs of appropriate planning legislation to maintain land in viable agricultural production are probably significantly less. (10) 4.5 Rating scale results The full rating scale results are presented here for a comparison of how they were rated overall, as well as by the different sectors, regions and business models represented by farmers in the study (Table 4.10). Ratings from the six farmers who were classified as having both livestock and field horticulture as important parts of their operation were counted towards the averages for both sectors. This was also the case for farmers who incorporated both commercial or wholesale-oriented farming and direct marketing as significant portions of their operations. When looking at these ratings, it's important to remember that they describe the opinions of the farmers involved in this research only and are not statistically generalizable to the larger population of B.C. farmers. In 83 addition, because of the small sample size, any variations between sectors, regions and business models would not be statistically significant, though they may suggest certain trends. Factors Overall Rating Region Sector Business Model FV VI OK FH NFH LV CM DM Physical quality of land 7.9 8.2 8.1 6.6 8.2 7.7 8 8.3 7.9 Proximity to agricultural services 5.6 6.1 5.4 4.6 5.5 3.7 6.5 6.4 5.5 Location/visibility on main road/highway 6.6 4.8 8.6 7.6 7.2 7 6.3 5.5 7.7 Opportunities for direct farm marketing 7.2 5.3 8.7 9.6 8.6 8.7 5.7 6.5 8.8 Proximity to urban area 7.3 6.5 8 8.2 7.6 8.3 6.3 6.7 8 Conflicts with neighbors 5.1 5.2 5 5.4 4.9 4 5.7 5.4 4.9 Conflicts with traffic 4.3 4.5 4.3 3.6 4.2 3.7 4.5 4.7 3.7 Local bylaws 5.7 4.6 7 6.4 6.5 5 4.5 5.4 6.2 Business costs 6.2 6.4 7.1 4.2 5.5 8.7 6.6 7.4 5.7 Rising land values of farmland 6.4 6.2 6.6 6.6 6.5 5.7 6.1 6.6 6.7 Local farmer networks 7.4 7.4 7.2 8 7.4 8.3 7.5 7.4 7.5 Local government 7.2 7.6 6.7 7 7.2 9.7 6.2 8.3 6.8 Proximity to other employment 4.2 4.9 4.1 2.4 4.5 3.3 4.3 4 4.1 Proximity to community resources 6.2 6.4 7 4.6 6.3 6 6.5 6.3 6.8 Proximity to family/social networks 6.9 7.2 7.1 5.8 7 7 7.6 7.9 6.6 Family ties to the land 5.1 4.2 6.7 4.6 5.6 2.3 6.5 5.3 5.2 Aesthetics/quality of life 8.4 8.3 9.1 7.4 8.7 6 8.9 8.3 8.7 Table 4.10 Rating scale results: all factors. Note: FV = Fraser Valley, VI = Vancouver Island, OK = Okanagan, FH = field horticulture, NFH = non-field horticulture, LV = livestock, CM = commercial, DM = direct market. Rating scale responses range from one to 10, with one meaning not at all important and 10 meaning very important. 84 Overall, the ratings in Table 4.10 provide an adequate reflection of how important most factors were to the viability of participants' farms. The use of two different approaches - the open-ended discussion and the rating scale - was beneficial in light of limitations to the rating scale exercise. Although attempts were made to explain each factor consistently to participants, they were often interpreted differently. It may have been helpful to use a rating scale from one to five instead of one to 10, as many participants did not use the entire range of the scale even if their stated opinions on factors reflected the entire range. Using a scale from one to five would have made it possible to define a specific value for each number (e.g. not at all important, somewhat important, extremely important, etc.) and ratings may have been more consistent in meaning between participants. In a few cases where participants misunderstood what was being asked - for example, rating a factor a one despite saying it was very important - these ratings were revised by the researcher to better reflect participants' actual opinions. The rating scale was a useful tool in assessing factors affecting agricultural viability, but the numbers would have little meaning without the context provided by the rest of the discussion. For example, farmers were asked to rate the rising values of agricultural land, as discussed in Chapter 2, and how that factor affects their operation. This prompted important discussion, but the numeric rating itself has little meaning because participants rated this factor based on such varied opinions. For example, some considered it important and gave it a high rating because they felt it provided them with a retirement plan. Others considered it important and rated it highly, but because it prevented them from expanding or they felt it had a negative influence on the industry. It was difficult to sort out these 85 opinions into a consistent rating that reflected farmers opinions on rising land values, and this factor will be discussed further in section 4.6.3. Similar challenges are encountered when interpreting the ratings for urban proximity, business costs and government attitude - and for all of the factors to some degree. The rating scale results are thus not always reflective of overall trends, and the results of the coding analysis have a higher degree of validity. It's important to keep these limitations in mind when looking at the results of the rating scale so as to avoid misinterpretation. The rating scale was probably most useful as a starting point for discussion, and there is significant potential to revise this tool in light of the lessons learned. In addition to rating factors that affect agricultural viability, farmers were also asked to rate factors that were personally important to them, such as aesthetics and family ties to the land. Although not always reflected in the ratings, the discussion surrounding these factors indicates that for many participants, farming is a way of life they love and is often a family endeavor. Although some family operations were set up as corporations for business purposes, if the participants in the sample are any indication, agriculture in British Columbia has largely seemed to avoid the problem of corporate, absentee ownership cited in Chapter 2. 4.6 Broader issues facing agriculture In addition to the specific factors participants rated, a variety of other issues came up during the discussions. Many of these issues, although not easily reduced to a number rating, affect the general climate in which agriculture operates and can have significant implications for farmers' viability. 86 4.6.1 Urban ignorance regarding food and farming Comments from participants in the study provide evidence of divergent trends among consumers. Farmers felt that one segment of the population was becoming more aware of food issues: People are more conscious of what they're eating. They want healthy food that hasn't been contaminated with pesticides and herbicides and chemicals... I think educated people are not interested in the organic label, they want it grown wisely, and we do grow wisely. We do grow organically, it's just not certified. That's why farm markets and on farm markets are becoming popular. (Interview 5) As this participant identified, this is the segment of the population driving the growth in direct marketing and popularity of local food. Other participants thought that although consumers were becoming more aware of food issues in terms of how their own health is affected, they were not any more aware of agricultural issues or the welfare of farmers. The overall sentiment expressed was that the general urban population is largely ignorant of food and agriculture issues. One farmer commented: The public is getting less and less aware of where their food comes from.. .we've had people at the corn maze think that the corn grows again next year from the stalks. I had a neighbor a few years ago that was giving a tour of their dairy farm and a mother of one of the kids said, "Why do you do all this when you could just go to Safeway and buy your milk?" (Interview 9) Many farmers also expressed frustration at the public's general support for farmland preservation, but lack of tolerance for agricultural practices - in other words, they want the green space, but don't understand that it's a working landscape. This ignorance can likely be attributed to the growing disconnect between the production and consumption of food. With farmers only comprising about two percent of the population, few people have any hand in growing food and don't "understand and 87 appreciate what it [takes] to get the food to their plates" (Interview 11). As one participant stated: I drive the hay wagon for [a friend].. .How many times do I get the [finger]...from people that are too impatient to give me the space?...I get honked at and sworn at. The same people that will go to The Keg in the evening for a steak. I'm just driving that food to the cows to make your steak. Hello! We have not been good at making that connection. Maybe we should have signs like "I'm driving the food for your steaks" - real ad campaigns, not "B.C. Grows." (Interview 28) Urban ignorance regarding agriculture affects farmers on multiple levels. It has direct consequences when farmers find themselves adjacent to urban neighbours, as manifested in conflicts and complaints about farm practices. Although there are often things farmers can do to reduce the impact of agricultural practices on neighbours, as one participant put it, "There isn't a way to make [manure] smell less. I'm really sorry, but there isn't" (Interview 24). Urban ignorance also has indirect consequences, leading to a general underappreciation of agriculture and a lack of respect for farmers. The combination of these direct and indirect consequences of urban ignorance can create a difficult environment in which farmers operate. In his essay The Pleasures of Eating, writer Wendell Berry states that, "Eating is an agricultural act." That is, anyone who eats - and therefore everyone - is dependent upon agriculture and the farmers who are intrinsic to it. For this reason, it is important to become aware of where food comes from and how it is produced. Many participants agreed, citing greater education as the remedy to urban ignorance. An important part of this education will be to reconceptualize the notion of health - which participants saw as a growing consumer concern - in more holistic terms, recognizing how human health is intertwined with the health of soil, plants, animals and environment. Sir Albert Howard was one of the first individuals to recognize this view of health in his book The Soil and 88 Health, and it has been discussed more recently by Lang and Heasman (2004) as the concept of an "ecological public health." As the farmer above states, the education required to counter the general lack of awareness surrounding food and agriculture issues will take a "real" effort and real campaigns. Many farmers in the sample incorporated education of the public to some extent in their operations but thought a larger effort was needed on a variety of levels. 4.6.2 Edge planning Many insights from participants in the study have implications for edge planning, a planning process focused on the urban-rural interface. Edge planning attempts to address land use compatibility and prevent conflicts, as well as "ensure the permanence of the 'edge'" and the fixed boundary of the A L R (Smith 1998, 8-6). Current smart growth and edge planning initiatives rely on the principle of separation. The goal is to first minimize the amount of edge area, and then where the edge does exist, use buffers to mitigate potential conflicts (Smart Growth BC 2004, 15). Buffers can take a variety of forms depending on site-specific details and involve such things as vegetative screens and physical setbacks between uses. Many participants felt buffers played an important role in preventing urban-rural conflict. However, they were concerned about who would pay for buffers and where land for the buffer would come from, and they had a generally negative view of how it had been or would be carried out: There was a big subdivision further down and a guy that I grew up with farms there. And they have very weak parameters for what he's dealing with, this 1,200 home subdivision right up against his place now. And they want him to water the buffering. They wanted to have a very minimal buffer and they want to make the buffer a walking path. And you know the thing is under construction, now he's trying to negotiate something reasonable in terms of fencing and buffering, this, it's not right. (Interview 8) 89 Their experiences indicated that although the principles and intent for buffering may be there, it's not necessarily being implemented effectively, and the onus seems to be on the farmer to ensure buffering is properly planned and not just an afterthought. Many participants also found the idea of using buffers as public space such as walking trails an unattractive prospect. Considering the general ignorance and lack of respect for agricultural activities, potentially increasing public access to farms may lead to greater trespassing, vandalism and liability concerns. One participant stated that he'd rather be abutting a subdivision, because it's possible to get to know and work with neighbours, whereas there's no control over the general public. Although there maybe a place for walking trails or other activities within buffer zones, proper planning is needed to ensure public access doesn't subvert the purpose of buffers and render them ineffective. One interesting insight from the study took issue with the principles on which edge planning is based - the separation of rural and urban areas and maintenance of a fixed edge - in that they don't necessarily serve the needs of direct marketing operations: Take smart growth, for example. Their solution for agriculture is isolation, is buffering, and keeping it separate. Whereas I identify as the most opportunistic, perhaps the best model for myself, is integration. And so the planning exercises and visioning processes conflict with my type of agricultural development because I see integration, as opposed to isolation, as being the key.. .The planning models work good for the... antiquated perception of agriculture. (Interview 12) This perception of edge planning principles is based on the fact that the viability of direct marketing and agritourism operations depends to a large degree upon their visibility to customers and easy access to population centres. This participant points out that there may be room to accommodate some urban growth within rural areas. If development is "a house dropped here, a house dropped there," then it has negative implications for 90 agriculture and the land base (Interview 12). However, if growth is concentrated and well-planned, some degree of integration and a more flexible edge may be beneficial to both farmers and residents. This possibility of integration has been explored in the creation of agri-communities, in which by allocating certain areas of suitable land for residential development, growth pressures are dealt with and the best land for agriculture is retained (Mooney 1989). These ideas are similarly demonstrated through the concept of New Ruralism, which attempts to integrate working agricultural lands, residential developments and recreational areas into complete communities that reconnect people with food production (Porter 2006). This push for integration is in part due to the fact that proponents see current edge planning principles as simply perpetuating disconnection between urban populations and agriculture. Separation and buffering can leave agriculture out-of-sight, out-of-mind, which will do little to bring it back in the public consciousness. As Porter (2006) asks, "If the loss of agricultural lands is seen as a result of declining appreciation for these places, how can a policy of segregation and exclusion promote increased stewardship?" (23). As stated above, there are practical reasons for using tools such as buffers, and thus developments that promote integration at the rural-urban interface need to be extremely well-planned. However, as many participants point out, the current principles of separation are evidently not working anyway, and instead, unplanned integration is seeping into farmland haphazardly. Exploring conscious, planned integration at the urban edge has the potential to benefit both urban residents and farmers while maintaining a productive agricultural landscape.3 3 For further discussion o f these ideas, see Porter (2006), Integrating the Urban-Agricultural Edge: A n Exploration o f N e w Rural ism in South Delta 91 Edge planning has significant implications for agricultural viability. This was recognized by participants through their comments specifically related to planning at the edge, as well as in their concern over growing urban-rural conflicts. As Smith (1998) says, "Edge conflicts are not inconsequential. The rural/urban edge can be one of the most difficult, least favoured and highly challenging areas to farm due to the potential for 'people' conflicts" (8-5). However, the rural-urban edge can also be one of the most rewarding locations for certain types of agriculture, and some farmers are specifically locating on the edge despite its difficulties. Whether the goal is integration or separation, solutions will need to be well-planned and location-specific, and the key for edge planning will be to ensure that farmers and urban populations are able to reap the benefits of this location while avoiding its challenges. 4.6.3 The Agricultural Land Reserve Participants in the study expressed insightful and widely varying opinions on the Agricultural Land Reserve. Some felt it was incredibly important in preventing or at least slowing the development of farmland, and that it provided the benefits of lower tax rates, relatively depressed land values and protection of agricultural practices under the Right to Farm Act. Other farmers felt there was little benefit to the ALR, finding it too restrictive and failing in its original intent to preserve farming. The majority of participants, though, had mixed feelings about the ALR and its implications for agriculture. As farmers, most participants naturally supported the preservation of farmland and were concerned about farmland loss and the management of agricultural land in the province. However, they also felt a crucial mistake was made in that the preservation of farmland had been separated from the preservation of farmers themselves. As some farmers commented: 92 The land is protected. Yeah, that's fine. You can protect all the land you want around here but.. .you can't turn around and sell it to someone who wants to farm because they can't make a living at it. Right? So what are you going to do? You're going to have an empty chunk of land. (Interview 3) You can't protect the land if you don't have an economic base for the farm. It's not protecting farmland just to say you can't develop it... You have to be able to make a buck at it.. .On one side [people] say oh, we can't have any subsidies. You better decide where you want your food to come from. (Interview 8) The question I have for all that farmland and everyone that wants to save it is who's going to farm it? These people are getting old. And not all of them have kids who want to do it. Now maybe if it was more viable then kids would want to get into it. But I know a lot of them don't want anything to do with it. So I don't know who is going to farm all that land. (Interview 4) As these comments indicate, many participants felt that the premise under which the A L R was created was inherently flawed. Farmers were effectively tied to the land and their rights restricted in order to preserve it. Yet there were no complementary mechanisms by which to ensure them a viable existence, or any mechanisms that had been created were dismantled. Many participants expressed the opinion that the A L R had been "developed on the backs of the farmers. If you want to have land for agriculture everybody should pay for it. Not just the farmer. Because we in effect paid for it" (Interview 18). Another participant added that, "A farmer is not there to hold land in perpetuity, without compensation, for the rest of the general public" (Interview 26). The general view was that society wanted agriculture preserved but farmers paid for it. In many ways, then, the A L R represents the imposition of an urban value-set onto farmers (Garrish 2002). Although the intent to preserve farmland in light of significant losses can be commended, the way it was implemented resulted in a loss of development rights for farmers and a requirement that they protect a public good without compensation. The answer, then, to 93 the problems surrounding the A L R may simply be what was suggested by a variety of participants: "If you want to save the land, all you've got to do is pay the farmer for what he's worth.. .If it's viable, I won't be looking to sell it" (Interview 13). Although this answer may not be all that simple to implement, it implies bringing farmers back into the scope of farmland protection and providing compensation for the services they provide. As discussed in Chapter 2, one issue generally seen as plaguing the ALR is the skyrocketing values of farmland. For many participants, this did not specifically affect their viability. Since most participants wanted to continue farming, it didn't matter much to them what the value of their land was. Although rising land values came with some increase in taxes, it also increased participants' equity and borrowing power, which was seen as a benefit. A recurrent thought was that rising land values are only an issue if individuals are expanding their operation - in which case the costs can be prohibitive - or if they're retiring - in which case high values can be a benefit. Although rising land values were not seen as significantly affecting the viability of participants' farms, many farmers still saw it as a concern. They felt that the cost of land was especially prohibitive to new people who wanted to enter farming. Although buying land is a cost of getting into the industry, there is the potential that these costs can get too high. They may be accessible to developers or individuals who want a country estate, but out of reach of many would-be farmers. Since over half of the participants in the study were operating farms that had been in their family two generations or longer, they may not have experienced this consequence of rising land values. More generally, rising land values may perpetuate the chain of events described in 2.4.1, in which 94 farmland becomes valued for non-agricultural uses and is eventually excluded from the ALR. Even though many participants wanted to remain fanning, the rising value of land was often seen as an insurance policy. There was a sentiment among some participants that they would simply ride it out in their location as long as they could and then sell. As one participant stated, "In the long term, you know, the ultimate retirement plan is that it will get sold. It will be worth too much money" (Interview 24). For many participants, although they expressed a sincere desire to keep the land in agriculture, selling the land is their only choice as a retirement plan since they don't make enough money farming. It's hard to blame farmers, who, after a life of working extremely hard for what's often very little money and even less appreciation, are able to sell their land and retire with a decent sum of money. This seems to be the same goal most of the population works towards, and thus if we expect farmers to preserve farmland, it's critical to pay them properly and ensure that their ability to support themselves is not dependent upon selling their land. 4.6.4 Government attitude and support Government support - or lack thereof - was seen by almost all participants as critical to the agricultural industry's viability. Governments' commitment to agriculture can be evidenced not only through the specific regulations and bylaws enacted regarding the industry, but also in creating the general context in which farmers operate and whether this context is welcoming and cooperative or unwelcoming and difficult. In addition, the attitude governments portray towards agriculture most likely has an influence on how communities and the general public view agriculture. As previously discussed, participants thought support at the local level varied widely among 95 municipalities, and farmers also had divergent opinions on the level of support received from the provincial government: You can say what you want about the provincial government, but they have supported agriculture in the past. We don't know yet about the new agriculture minister but I have high hopes. I hope that government lasts for a while so that we have some consistency in the policies. Before I didn't feel we had much support in the West but now I think we do. (Interview 28) Well this one will strike a mark. The Ministry of Agriculture in British Columbia, while we still have a stand alone Ministry, has become so decimated that it I'm almost at the point of questioning its value.. .1 think that the provincial government view of agriculture is basically giving lip service... they just don't give enough weighting to agriculture and its significance to the province. (Interview 11) In general, participants' opinions were more aligned with the latter comment to various degrees, and they felt a general frustration and lack of support and leadership from the government. Farmers felt that there were critical issues facing the agriculture industry, and that there needed to be a stated commitment to B.C. agriculture that was communicated and understood between all levels and branches of government. Participants felt this commitment also needed to be better-expressed through the often confusing and convoluted regulations applied to agriculture. As one participant said, "Can it just be a little more practical by telling you what you can do instead of what you can't?" (Interview 17). Some participants felt the government was ignoring the needs of an entire segment of farmers new with its new one-size-fits-all food safety regulations: My food should be clean and healthy and safe, too. But, [consumers] are making a choice to come here and they can decide for themselves whether they want to buy the food that was grown here. In the grocery store you don't know that.. .But they seem to want to apply the same rules right across the board, to everybody and every situation, and yet it's really choking out a lot of the small producers because there's no, no way for them to meet those standards. (Interview 10) 96 Other participants felt current regulations were not keeping pace with the needs of direct marketing operations and the evolution of agriculture. They called for a flexibility and open-mindedness as to what can take place on A L R land. One participant commented about his farm's viability: It's not a traditional farm and I understand that. What I'm saying is if I'm going to keep 60 acres in production, this is what it's going to have to look like. Otherwise it isn't about whether or not a bakery should be part of a farm, it's about whether you want this in production or not. That's what is drawing people here to buy my apples. Because they can get a piece of pie and have a coffee. So that mentality has to change. They have to understand. And there's so many different levels of government involved.. .and they have to understand that this is the new face of farming that brings viability to keep us producing crop. (Interview 8) As this comment points out, flexibility within certain parameters is required so that innovations in agriculture can continue to evolve. However, even within those parameters there needs to be an ability to adapt, since there's no way of knowing what practices will be needed in the future to ensure farmers' viability. As this participant later pointed out, if the province is truly committed to agriculture, it may as well be do whatever it can to allow for innovations in agriculture - farmland and farmers are already in steady decline, and soon there will be nothing left to lose. 4.6.5 Food system concerns Many participants in the study expressed some degree of concern over various trends they saw affecting the food system. One trend, as identified previously, is the concern over the loss of farmland in the province. With such a limited amount of agricultural land to begin with, even a small reduction could have implications for self-sufficiency. A related worry was what participants saw as the increasing reliance on imported food and the lack of consumer awareness surrounding it. Part of this concern 97 was related to food safety: "You know all these farmers, we follow all the rules, regulations for all the food safety things. When it comes from Mexico or from the other countries, we don't know what they're doing to it, or what kind of chemicals they are using" (Interview 15). Other farmers expressed a different concern over reliance on imports: What is going to happen if we have a major disruption in the oil supply and transportation goes up tenfold? We'll either be paying through the nose or they can't afford to ship it at all and we're going to starve. We can't turn housing back into agriculture.. .If we had the border closed for a month we would see how dependant we are on everybody else in the world, people would demand we keep and expand agriculture and restrict housing.. .Where are we going to get our food when the U.S. runs out of it? Not from California anymore. Then all of a sudden we'll appreciate agriculture again and it's too late. (Interview 28) Many participants linked the lack of concern over self-sufficiency issues to the same general ignorance that has negatively affected farmers and agriculture, as discussed in 4.6.1. Unfortunately, most participants who were concerned about self-sufficiency and preserving local food systems thought that there would be no significant change until a disaster of some sorts woke people out of their stupor: There's no political will to change it. When you have prosperity, you have other problems. And there's no political will to do anything about it because nobody is hungry. When you go into Safeway, you'll never go in when the shelves aren't full. And until the shelves are empty nobody's going to go, you know, I remember we used to have farms. We used to grow some of this ourselves. I remember. (Interview 8) Some farmers didn't see such a dire outcome in this situation, citing the productive land base and saying that "Once you start to get hungry you'll find a place to grow the darn stuff (Interview 3). The question is whether society chooses to prepare for such a time when self-sufficiency may be a necessity and not a choice, or whether that time will catch us unawares. 98 C h a p t e r 5 : C o n c l u s i o n 5.1 Summary of findings In its attempt to provide information with which to update land evaluation tools and improve farmland management in the province, this research set out to answer three questions: • What factors do B.C. farmers identify as influencing the agricultural viability of farmland parcels near urban areas? • Of the identified factors, which are most important? • More generally, what have been the experiences of farmers located near urban areas, and what insights can they provide in regards to planning for agriculture in this setting? These questions were driven by the unique context created by the close proximity of farmland and urban centres in the province, and the fact that current land evaluation tools focus only on the physical qualities of land and don't account for the range of forces that affect farmers within this context. The results of this research confirm that a range of non-biophysical factors play an important role in defining agricultural viability along the urban edge. The urban-rural interface is a complex, dynamic environment in which farmers operate, and as many participants' comments indicate, soil quality is not a primary factor affecting their operations. Other factors that are of growing importance to farmers' viability include access to markets - in terms of general proximity to a customer base and specific location in a visible setting - as well as conflict with neighbours and opportunities for cooperation 99 with other farmers. These factors often play a significant role in determining a farm's ability to operate successfully, regardless of the land's physical capabilities. Municipal bylaws and regulations affecting agriculture also have implications for viability, and farmers identified access to other agricultural services and infrastructure as important to a lesser degree. Although these overarching themes were identified in the interviews, the relative importance of factors varied with each situation, and there were always exceptions to the trends. Incorporating these factors into land valuation tools will require a flexible approach that can be effective in a variety of circumstances, as one-size-fits-all policies and tools will not work for an agricultural industry as varied as British Columbia's. In addition, it should be restated that even though physical qualities were not seen by participants as critical determinants of agricultural viability, factors such as soil quality were still considered to be of high importance. According to Mooney (1989), "The value of prime agricultural lands to Canadian agriculture cannot be over estimated" (2). Non-traditional factors are surpassing soil quality in their influence on agricultural viability only because the province is fortunate to have such incredible productive capabilities. Although more marginal lands can still support viable agricultural operations, the resource input required is often much greater than it would be on prime farmland. Thus, the preservation of high quality farmland for agricultural purposes will make it that much easier for farmers to achieve financial viability, increasing the chances that they and their children will be able to continue on and keep land in production. 100 5.2 Recommendations based on findings A number of recommendations flow directly from the results of this research. These recommendations and their relationship with the study findings are outlined in Tables 5.1 and 5.2 and some are elaborated upon below. Factor Results Recommendations Opportunities for direct farm marketing Increasingly important as a strategy to achieve financial viability; driven by urban proximity and changing consumer preferences. The B.C. Ministry of Agriculture and Lands (BCMAL) should invest in resources (e.g. manuals, website, workshops, etc.) to help farmers learn about and transition to direct farm marketing. Urban proximity and location on a main road Significantly affects viability because of growth in direct farm marketing, which depends upon access to customers. The ALC should maintain agricultural land parcels near urban areas and main roads and the BCMAL should protect farmers' ability operate on these parcels by preventing negative influences (e.g. conflict, restrictive bylaws, development pressures). Soil quality and physical characteristics of land The basis for agricultural production and increasingly important as farmers diversify their operations, but not necessarily a defining factor of farmers' viability; The ALC should preserve prime farmland so that physical limitations don't become a concern, and should preserve marginal farmland which has agricultural potential in light of urban proximity and the diversity of farm types suited to marginal land. Conflict with neighbours An annoyance and sometimes significant detriment to agricultural viability; growing in importance. The BCMAL and the agricultural industry should educate urban residents who neighbour farm operations, put more effort into edge planning initiatives and expand the practices protected under the Right to Farm Act. Municipal bylaws Can be restrictive and threaten viability; vary between municipalities. The provincial government should prevent restrictive bylaws and require municipalities to support agriculture through the Local Government Act (formerly the Municipal Act). Farmer cooperation Necessary for community branding; a united front could benefit the larger agricultural community. The BCMAL and industry/direct marketing associations should educate farmers about the diversity of B.C.'s agricultural industry and the contributions of various sectors. Proximity to agricultural services Importance is perhaps not recognized until services are lost; more expensive to operate without easy access to supporting infrastructure. All groups should keep in mind the importance of complete farm communities and the need to maintain large agricultural operations that support the maintenance of farm services. Table 5.1 Recommendations based on factors affecting agricultural viability. 101 Issue Results Recommendations Urban ignorance regarding food and farming A contributing factor in conflict with urban neighbours, also leads to general underappreciation and lack of respect for agriculture. The federal and provincial governments, schools and consumer groups should educate adults and children about food and farming and develop advertising campaigns that clearly connect farmers and agricultural practices to the food people eat. Edge planning An important determinant of urban-rural interactions; models based on principles of both separation and integration may be appropriate. The BCMAL, planners and the agricultural industry should invest more effort into learning about and developing edge planning strategies and ensure they are implemented effectively; researchers and planners should further explore the usefulness of planning models based on both separation and integration in various situations. The Agricultural Land Reserve Has slowed the conversion of agricultural land to urban uses, but requires farmers to protect a public good without compensation. The BCMAL and researchers should explore strategies to increase the financial viability of farming through mechanisms such as ecologically-based payments and transfer of development rights. Government attitude and support Room for improvement in the level of support received from the provincial government. The provincial government should develop a strong, province-driven commitment to agriculture (which will require the support of urban populations) and maintain flexibility in regulations to allow room for innovations. Food system concerns Self-sufficiency and food safety issues need more attention but will likely not receive it until the food supply is threatened. The province, BCMAL and consumer groups should promote the purchasing of locally-grown food, fund and develop local food systems infrastructure and educate consumers about food and agriculture. 5.2 Recommendations based on broader issues facing agriculture - Educate the public about food and agriculture issues Consumers need to be made aware of where their food comes from and how it's produced. In light of the problems plaguing the food system, ignorance is no longer an option. As part of this educational effort, the provincial government and consumer groups should reintroduce the concept of seasonal eating and promote the purchasing of B.C. products, thereby creating more markets for local food. Ad campaigns are needed that make the connection between food and farming. Labeling programs, although not the entire solution, are a necessary first step to ensure access to basic information about food. 102 Initiatives such as buyBC and The Land Conservancy's Conservation Partners Program label are a start, but there is a need for even greater connection between producer and consumer and an incorporation of the Japanese principle teikei - literally, food with the farmer's face on it (Meter 2003, 7). Educating the public will have positive implications for reversing trends of ignorance. In addition, as farmers account for less than two percent of the population, the support of the general public is needed in order to demand greater government attention to issues facing B.C. agriculture. Education also has an important role to play in reducing conflict between fanners and urban neighbours. Better mechanisms are needed to educate urban residents on the edge and in rural areas about what living next to agricultural operations entails. Winton (2007) described a "sniff test" used by realtors to let potential home buyers know what odours they may experience from nearby farm operations. This education of urban-edge residents needs to be complementary to more general education regarding food and agriculture issues, as brochures put out by the government such as The Countryside and You are helpful to a certain extent, but unlikely to significantly change people's attitudes towards farming. Teach children where their food comes from It's much easier to instill an appreciation for food production in children than to reshape the values of adults. Thus, one of the most important actions required to combat the growing ignorance of agriculture and food issues is to teach children where their food comes from - and that it's not from the grocery store shelf. This can be accomplished in part by initiatives such as the province's School Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program, which delivers B.C. fruits and vegetables to elementary schools. Equally important, if not 103 more so, is providing children with hands-on experience in the joys of cultivating food. One example of this experiential education is the Intergenerational Landed Learning Project at the UBC Farm. This program partners school groups with gardeners in the community in order to grow and harvest food and foster environmental stewardship and appreciation for the land. Schools without access to a farm can still engage in similar activities at community or school gardens. Educate farmers Developing resources to educate farmers about direct marketing is an important strategy to help farmers increase the financial viability of their operations. The Ministry of Agriculture and Lands should compile both print and web resources on direct farm marketing and make these resources easily accessible to farmers. The Ministry should also sponsor local workshops on direct farm marketing and agritourism strategies, where those interested in this business model can learn from other successful farmers. In addition, farmers need to be made aware of the exceptional diversity of the B.C. agricultural industry. Working through formal groups such as industry associations and direct marketing organizations may be an effective way to increase appreciation and cooperation among farmers. Educating farmers on less invasive management practices could also help reduce the potential for conflict with urban neighbours. Preserve both prime and marginal farmland Although not necessarily a determining factor of farmers' viability, the biophysical capabilities of land still provide the basis for agricultural production in the province. Given concerns over food security and climate change, as well as the growing 104 number of farmers who are diversifying their operations and depending upon the land, maintaining the province's productive capacity is crucial. Continued losses of agricultural land are extremely concerning in light of the limited quantity of this resource, and the province is failing to adequately protect its land base. The results of this study should provide even more reason to preserve not only prime farmland, but also marginal land, which can have significant agricultural potential due to its proximity to markets and the suitability of marginal land for certain types of operations. The socioeconomic factors identified as potential constraints to farmers' viability should not provide cause for removing land from the ALR, but knowledge of these factors can help in planning for and managing agricultural land. By maintaining the biophysical basis of the Land Capability Classification system while developing a complementary set of socioeconomic indicators by which to assess land parcels, farmland can be properly managed so that the effects of potentially detrimental forces are limited. Maintaining the province's farmland will require examining and reevaluating the workings of the A L C and the ALR. Campbell (2006b) provides a list of specific recommendations regarding management of the ALR. Equally important, if not more so, is addressing the issue of financial viability. As a number of farmers in the study pointed out, if there is an economic base for farming, the preservation of the land may take care of itself. Strengthen municipalities' commitment to agriculture The wide variations in municipalities' attitudes towards agriculture need to be addressed at a provincial level. The Local Government Act (formerly the Municipal Act), which provides the legislative framework for municipalities, allows the Minister of 105 Agriculture to review any bylaws potentially restricting agriculture. In light of this, it's troubling that some farmers still see bylaws as negatively impacting their viability. Greater effort needs to be made by the provincial government so that all levels and departments of government share an understanding that agriculture is highly valued and that bylaws and regulations should make every effort to work with farming rather than against it. Expanding the agricultural practices protected under the Right to Farm Act, as discussed in 4.4.5, would be one important development. In addition, municipalities are often focused on the short-term goal of expanding their tax base and, unless forced, can have a difficult time accounting for long-term interests such as the preservation of agricultural land. Locating more power in regional bodies such as the Greater Vancouver Regional District could provide a balancing presence to ensure municipalities abide by the principles in growth strategies such as the Livable Region Strategic Plan. The province and municipalities also need to focus their attention on urban planning, as the ways in which urban areas grow have significant implications for surrounding agricultural lands. Unfortunately, the overwhelming experience in North America has been one of urban sprawl. The principles underlying the creation of dense, livable cities are well-known, and this type of urban form can reduce infrastructure costs, increase housing opportunities, protect rural and natural areas, offer greater transportation choices and revitalize urban areas in decline (Barrs 2004, 1). However, it is still often easier and cheaper to expand outward, and many cases of residential intensification are due to the concerted effort of forward-thinking municipalities and developers. Regulatory barriers need to be addressed and incentives developed so that this type of development is 106 the rule, rather than the exception. Barrs' (2004) profile of 23 successful residential intensification projects is a useful starting point from which to explore these issues. Put more effort into edge planning The challenges and rewards of the urban edge call for especially innovative planning processes. The government and the agricultural industry need to invest more effort into developing appropriate edge planning strategies. The guiding principle of separation needs to be rethought in order to allow for the possibility of integration as a way to foster healthy interaction at the urban-rural interface. Further studies need to be done to determine under which conditions each of these edge planning principles is most effective. When buffers are appropriate, they need to be well-planned so that the onus is not on the farmer to ensure they are properly implemented. In a report prepared for the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, Englund (2003) assessed the role of buffers in mitigating conflict, and the results indicate that continuous vegetative buffers of at least 10-12 metres high and 12 metres wide are most effective (37). Integrative planning models such as agri-communities and New Ruralism, discussed in 4.6.2, have the potential to allocate room for growth while maintaining productive farmland (Mooney 1989). However, if care is not taken in planning the placement of these communities, they have the potential to fragment the agricultural landscape (Arendt 2007). A vision for integration may involve New Ruralism and agri-community developments adjacent to the urban edge, transitioning to less invasive farms such as equestrian facilities and certain direct marketing operations, with potentially offensive agricultural activities located the furthest from residential developments. This gradation of land uses could mitigate conflict by using less invasive farms as buffers, and 107 could provide direct marketers with easy access to the urban populations upon which they depend. Further research is needed to determine how edge planning based on principles of both separation and integration could be implemented more effectively in British Columbia. For a vision of New Ruralism in Tsawwassen, B.C., see Porter (2006). Explore strategies to increase the financial viability of farming It's necessary to address the fact that farmers were asked to protect a public good without proper compensation (Mooney 1989). Many farmers want their land to remain in production and also in their family, but because they haven't been able to save money while farming, selling their land is their retirement plan. Researchers and the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands need to explore strategies that allow farmers to make a decent living so that their land can stay in production and provide benefits such as green space and ecological services. As mentioned in relation to edge planning, agri-communities and New Ruralism developments may help strengthen farmers' financial viability in that they allow for a certain degree of development and thus its financial rewards. Purchase or transfer of development rights are other tools that have been used to compensate farmers to for preserving their land and deserve further examination. Although the idea of subsidies is often unpopular, it may be worth exploring what role innovative payment programs could play. These payments are increasingly being used in Europe, where "a new guiding principle has emerged: use public money to pay for public goods that the public wants and needs" (van Donkersgoed 2003). This principle is behind the European Union's shift from agricultural subsidies based on production to those rewarding environmental stewardship. Whatever the strategy, it will 108 require that farmers and the viability of the industry are brought back into the scope of farmland preservation initiatives. 5.3 Relevance and implications of research Given current debates in the province regarding agricultural land management, the results of this study have timely implications. By going straight to the farmers themselves and learning about their experiences, this exploratory study gives a unique view of B.C. agriculture from the perspective of those who live it day in and day out. The results provide evidence and insight into the growth in direct farm marketing and the evolving face of agriculture and offer new perspectives on farmers' business decisions and the factors most important to them. The study results confirm and add to existing knowledge regarding influences shaping agriculture, and by engaging in inquiry at the farm level, the results "reveal the diversity of farmers' responses to urbanization and other external pressures" (Bunce and Maurer 2005, 5). Farmers' insights into larger issues affecting agriculture carry implications for planning and management that were highlighted throughout Chapter 4. The urban-rural interface was identified as a zone of both high risks and high rewards that requires innovative planning processes to properly address the needs on both sides of the edge. Participants also identified the importance of government and consumer support in sustaining B.C. agriculture, not only for the sake of the industry and its economic contributions to the province, but also for food security and self-reliance. There needs to be a provincial commitment to agriculture in recognition that the food supply and the farmers and farmland that provide it are too important to be left to the invisible hand of the marketplace. Although a useful tool, the market undervalues public goods such as 109 those provided by farmers and strong local food systems, and it will take a conscious effort to protect these assets. Flexible strategies need to be developed that help farmers achieve financial viability, adapt to their changing circumstances and reduce the uncertainty and risks they face. The issue of farmland preservation needs an open and honest assessment, as the exclusionary zoning of the ALR is not working to protect prime farmland, especially near the urban edge (Mooney 1989). This criticism is not new, and yet the sacrosanct status bestowed upon the A L R by its proponents may prevent the identification of solutions that will truly work to preserve not only the land but the farmers who tend it. As New Ruralism and agri-communities show, the goal of farmland preservation may sometimes be served by allowing a degree of well-planned development. A recurring theme throughout the conversations with farmers was a need to be proactive - in edge planning and dealing with urban growth, in educating consumers, in maintaining agricultural infrastructure and in many other issues. Yet there was doubt as to whether policy makers and the general public will have the required foresight to deal with these challenges, or if short-term interests will continue to take precedence. The fact that this project was initiated and supported by the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture and Lands provides hope that the resulting insights will be used to inform planners and industry professionals and help contribute to decisions over farmland management. This exploratory study provides a basic assessment and overview of factors influencing agricultural viability on the urban edge, and more research and refinement of these results is necessary. However, there is strong confirmation that certain factors are important to farmers and affecting the agriculture industry. This knowledge can be put to 110 use and will hopefully result in positive changes for farmers and contribute to the larger goal of achieving food security in the province. 5.4 Directions for future research The diversity of insights and issues explored in this research point to a number of avenues warranting further inquiry. Perhaps an obvious recommendation is to carry on with the same line of research started with this study, continuing to employ both qualitative and quantitative methodologies. By continuing face-to-face discussions with farmers, it will be possible to keep in touch with the issues affecting them. In addition, many of the participants appreciated the fact that someone wanted to talk with them about issues they felt were important, and continuing this direct contact can show farmers that their opinions are valued. The results from this study and lessons learned regarding the rating scale could be used to develop a more standardized questionnaire that could survey a greater number of farmers. By using both interviews and surveys, further research could involve larger sample sizes for more statistically significant results while still maintaining the perspective of first-hand experience. While this research emphasized breadth in its attempt to explore a range of factors influencing a variety of farm types in three regions of the province, continued studies exploring the same issues would benefit from an emphasis on depth. Redesigning future studies to look at each region individually would better account for the unique conditions and forces affecting different areas of the province. Samples could be further stratified by sector or business model - for example, by looking specifically at certain industries. The goal would be to gain an in-depth understanding of each region, sector and business model, and the results of these more detailed studies could then be compiled to provide 111 comparisons between the various situations. This study's emphasis on breadth was important in exploring and identifying a variety of factors that are important to farmers, and this research is the starting point for future studies that could significantly add to the insights identified here. Just as many participants in the study felt that learning from other farmers was key to their success, this process may also be the best way to effectively implement some of the recommendations listed above. Comparative case studies that involve drawing together the knowledge and experience of other communities, provinces or jurisdictions could be of great value. Having identified some specific problems and needs through this research, the purpose of comparative studies would be to see how these issues have been addressed elsewhere. Comparative studies would require extensive reviews of literature on the issues, examination of the experiences of other communities and potentially interviews with those involved. The value of these studies would lie in their specificity as to why certain strategies worked or didn't work in various situations, and how this may translate to the context of communities in British Columbia. Comparative case studies could be used to investigate a variety of the above recommendations - such as how to compensate farmers for stewarding a public good, innovative edge planning initiatives and incentives for compact growth. Research that involves learning from the experiences of others could be a useful tool in addressing issues facing B.C. agriculture and would have a variety of practical implications for policy. 5.5 Concluding remarks Due to British Columbia's varied range of terrain and climate zones, agriculture in the province is characterized by incredible diversity and abundance, providing for 50 112 percent of the province's food needs on less than five percent of the land. It could be argued that of any province in Canada, British Columbia is the best-equipped to achieve even greater levels of self-reliance and food security. However, the province's varied topography is also what places the majority of its population in direct proximity to its most productive farmland. The context created by this overlap of urban and rural areas has been a huge benefit to agriculture, allowing farmers to increase their financial viability through direct marketing. Yet, this concurrence of urban and rural is also agriculture's biggest threat, as development eats up farmland despite intentions to the contrary. Measures need to be taken so that the flurry of agricultural activity currently being seen on the urban edge is not simply the boom before the bust, when pressures become too great and the means of dealing with these pressures are too few or ineffective. When looking at the myriad factors affecting farmers' viability within the urban-rural interface, it's impossible to ignore the larger issue of farmland management in the province. It's troubling that many of the insights and arguments presented in this study have been made in various forms and reiterations for more than three decades. This statement from a Canada Land Inventory report is just as valid today - if not more so -than it was 30 years ago: Within fifty years, much of Canada's farmland will be required simply to serve her domestic needs. Loss of the best farmland will require either its replacement by poorer land, which will involve higher costs, or a growing dependence upon imports, which will affect the balance of payments. As long as imported foodstuffs are available, this is not a serious problem. However, as the world population continues to grow, security of supply may become increasingly important; movements towards, rather than away from self-sufficiency are indicated. (Canada Land Inventory 1977, 11) 113 The alarm bell has been ringing for over 30 years - when will the sleeping conscience of the public and policy makers wake up? Thankfully, here and there - at a bustling farmers' market, an abundant community garden plot, as a child learns the magic of a seed - there is growing hope as more and more individuals come out of hibernation and re-envision their lives around land, food and community. 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Department of Agriculture. Runka, G. Gary. 2006. BC's Agricultural Land Reserve: Its historical roots. A paper presented at Post World Planners Congress Seminar, Planning for Food. Vancouver, B.C. Smart Growth BC. 2005. Smart Growth BC's position on the provincial Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR). Vancouver: Smart Growth BC. (accessed October 24, 2005). Smart Growth BC. 2004. State of the Agricultural Land Reserve. Vancouver: Smart Growth BC. Smith, Barry E. 1998. Planning for agriculture: Resource materials. Burnaby, B.C.: Provincial Agricultural Land Commission. Smith, Barry E. , and Susan Haid. 2004. The rural-urban connection: Growing together in greater Vancouver. Plan Canada 44, (2): 36-39. Stake, Robert E. 2000. Case studies. In Handbook of qualitative research. Eds. Norman K. Denzin, Yvonna S. Lincoln. 2nd ed., 435-454. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc. Statistics Canada. 2006. Average household expenditures, by household and territory. (accessed February 1, 2007). Statistics Canada. 2004. Total area of farms, land tenure and land in crops, by province (1981-2001 censuses of agriculture), (accessed February 1, 2007). Statistics Canada. 2003. Agriculture 2001 census provincial/regional trends: Sharp decline in number of farms in Ontario.^ (accessed February 1,2007). 121 van Donkersgoed, Elbert. 2003. Europe gets innovative about farm subsidies. Letter from Ontario, The New Farm. March. (accessed April 1,2007). Watkins, Melissa, Stewart Hilts, and Emily Brockie. 2003. Protecting southern Ontario's farmland: Challenges and opportunities. Guelph, Ontario: Centre for Land and Water Stewardship, University of Guelph. Weitzman, Eben A. 2000. Software and qualitative research. In Handbook of qualitative research. Eds. Norman K. Denzin, Yvonna S. Lincoln. 2nd ed., 803-820. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc. Winton, Bronwynne. 2007. Local food, horses, and lifestyle at the metropolitan edge in Southern Ontario, Canada: Responses, conflicts and opportunities. Presentation at the symposium Agriculture at the metropolitan edge: New Ruralism and other urban-rural sustainability strategies, April 5-6, in Berkeley, California. World Health Organization. 2007. Global and regional food consumption patterns and trends, (accessed January 31, 2007). World Health Organization. 2006. Obesity and overweight factsheet. (accessed February 1, 2007). Worldwatch Institute. 2007. State of the world 2007: Notable trends. (accessed February 6, 2007). 122 Appendix I: Interview Schedule Background/Demographics Please tell me a bit about yourself and your farm, for example, how long you've been here, what you produce, any major changes you've undergone, etc. Probe about: • How long at location/land in family? Come here specifically to farm? • Have you always farmed? • Main products. Send any for processing? Where? • Where market? (local stores, farmers markets, from farm, local institutions or restaurants, further out? • Major changes - always in production? Different products? • How large is farm? How much land in production? Own or rent land, lease any out? • Primary source of family's income? You or partner have another job? • In ALR? What's rating? Factors that contribute to agricultural potential 1. Can you tell me a bit about your decision-making process that led you to start/expand here/continue to invest here? What factors did you consider, both negative and positive? What factors do you think affect the agricultural viability of this parcel? a. e.g. Why did you decide on this site as opposed to other sites you may have been considering? What benefits did this site offer? What disadvantages? b. How has your operation changed? Can you tell me a bit about why you decided to expand/keep reinvesting here? What benefits and disadvantages does this site offer? c. Probe about potential factors - physical qualities of site, conflict with urban, marketing opportunities, proximity to processing 123 facilities, being near an urban area, proximity to other employment, proximity to community resources 2. If land has been in family- Did you ever consider moving to a different place? (e.g. that would better suit your needs, have fewer disadvantages, etc) Why or why not? 3. Can you perhaps reflect a bit on your experience running your farm in this relatively populated area of the province? How does the urban context affect you? What do you see as the benefits and drawbacks of being near an urban area? 4. Can you tell me a bit about what you see are some specific factors that contribute to the viability (or lack thereof) of farmland near urban areas? For example, factors that wouldn't be as important for farmland in other areas of the province? 5. Do you see the ALR as an area that provides the best protection for agricultural activities? (are there advantages to being in ALR? Right to Farm Act?) 6. Would you say that it was the physical factors or non-physical factors that were most important to you in determining the viability of this site? Your operation? 7. Overall, what was the most important factor or factors to you when making your decision to start/expand your operation here? To you, what is it about this parcel of land that makes it agriculturally viable? 8. Looking back, are there factors you wish you would have considered but didn't? 9. Overall, how would you assess your decision to set up/expand/keep farming here? Has it worked out like you thought? Do you feel that it's been successful? 10. Can you tell me about any future plans you have regarding your farm operation? (e.g. expand, scale back, get out of farming, farm somewhere else, etc) What factors are you considering regarding these plans? 124 Same/different as the previous factors you considered? What's the most important factor(s) driving this decision/plan? Children carry on farm? Rating exercise What I'd like to do now is to read you a list of factors we've identified that a farmer may consider when evaluating the viability of a land parcel and making decisions about his or her operation. As I read you each factor, I'd like you to think about how important that factor was to you when making your decision to start up/expand your operation (or how important this factor is to determining the viability of your farm). I'd like you to rate each factor on a scale from 1 to 10, with one meaning that the factor was not at all important to you, or does not at all affect your site, and 10 meaning that the factor that was very important to you, or it heavily influences your site. I'll give you this scale to look at while making your decision. 1. Physical factors (e.g. Land Capability Rating, soil, climate, parcel size etc) 2. Proximity to processing facilities/agricultural services 3. Location/visibility on a main road or highway 4. Opportunities for direct farm marketing 5. Proximity to urban area 6. Potential for nuisance complaints/conflicts with neighboring land uses 7. Local bylaws (e.g. ability to use signage) 8. Business costs 9. Land values/speculation 10. Proximity to other employment 11. Proximity to community resources (e.g. schools, shopping, etc.) 12. Aesthetics/scenic value/quality of life 13. Proximity to family/social support networks 14. Family ties to the land (e.g. land has been in family) 15. Urban traffic (e.g. conflicting with farm vehicles) 16. Local farmer networks (e.g. sharing of information, support, etc. direct marketing association) 17. Local governments (e.g. supportive or unsupportive councils, etc) Are there any other factors you considered important that aren't on the list? What are they? How would you rate them on a scale from 1-10? 11. Did completing the rating exercise trigger any thoughts for you regarding factors you had considered, but had forgotten about, or factors that you wish you would have considered? Would you rate the importance of any of these factors differently in terms of a future decision you may be considering (as opposed to your previous decision)? Which ones? Why? 125 {If there seem to be any discrepancies between how they rated the factors and what they mentioned earlier as being important to them, probe on this) 12. In general, what do you think about the future of this area in terms of agriculture and urban influences? Is there or will there be conflict? Exist harmoniously? Where do you see the industry going? What's the key for small farmers like yourself to continue to survive and prosper? What can government do, e.g. anything within the current context of ALR legislation to give better protection/support to ag activities? 13. If you don't mind, I'd just like to ask you for a bit more demographic information, like you'd find on a census. This information won't be used to describe you individually but will be used to provide averages for our sample. a. Ask age b. Marital status - single, married, common law partner, separated, divorced, widowed c. Education - highest level achieved, degree d. Children - Yes / No, how many, (ages?) e. I'd like to ask you about your gross farm income. If uncomfortable, use ranges 14. Thank you very much forgiving me your time. Is there anything else you'd like to tell me about your farm or your experience farming? Do you have any other thoughts or comments you'd like to share about the factors that contribute to farmland viability near urban areas? Do you have any feedback on the interview process? Do you have any final questions about the research project? 126 Appendix II: BREB Certificate of Approval 


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