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Delta throwback: Fraser Valley farming future uncertain

Concerns were rampant prior to the introduction of the ALR
Allan Bates stands outside his 34B Street barn to be removed for a railway right-of-way. He had been given a nine-day notice to empty the structure. Exportation for the new superport had occurred for all of his 100 acres, but he was told he would be able to farm 80 acres ‘for some time.’

Let’s head back to July 4, 1970, when the state of farming in Delta was in full display at a special event.

The Delta Farmers’ Institute (DFI) held a successful crop inspection tour to show various government officials and the public operations at many local farms.

The tour was organized by DFI president Murray Davie and among those in attendance were Eric Hughes, Fraser Valley field crops specialist with the provincial department of agriculture.

There were 268 working farms at the time, which was two years prior to the introduction of the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR).

Hughes said he was pleased with what he saw during the tour.

“The Delta farmers are a good group of growers. Because of this, I hate to see the land go out to non-agricultural use,” he said.

Commenting on land being rezoned to residential and industrial uses, Hughes added, “When you look at the Fraser Valley as a whole, you become quite pessimistic about the outlook for agriculture, because a startling amount of land is being taken, but I’m, sure the agricultural future in Delta is assured.”

According to the City of Delta's latest Agricultural Plan, approved by council last year, there are 177 farms in Delta with 42 per cent registered as family corporations.

Delta has approximately 22,240 acres of land in the ALR, corresponding to 50 per cent of its total land base, while approximately 75 per cent of the ALR land is actively used for farming.

There are few subdivisions occurring or being approved by City of Delta or the Agricultural Land Commission, the report notes, adding that the presence of large parcels in the ALR allows for economies of scale and increased farm viability for a variety of agricultural activities.

The report adds that, in comparison to other municipalities, Delta has been very successful in retaining ALR land.