About Agriculture in the Region

​Agricultural land is the foundation for regional food security and agricultural economic development, and provides indispensable ecological services. In 2011, Metro Vancouver had 60,893 ha in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR), which makes up 22% of the region’s land base (the ALR is a provincial designation that protects lands for farming).

 

 

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About farming in the region

Of the region’s 2,821 farms, 94% are located in Langley Township, Surrey, Maple Ridge, Richmond, Delta and Pitt Meadows. The average size of a farm in Metro Vancouver is 20 hectares (50 acres), which is typical for farms near urban areas. In addition to producing a variety of local foods, these lands provide important ecological services. These include wildlife habitat, climate regulation, nutrient and organic matter recycling, water infiltration and flood management.

Agriculture in the region provides direct employment to over 8,000 people and generated over $789 million in gross annual farm receipts in 2010. These gross farm receipts accounted for 27% of B.C.’s total gross farm receipts on only 1.5% of its agricultural land.

Risks to agriculture

The best way to protect agricultural land is to ensure that it is being actively farmed.

The most recent Metro Vancouver Agricultural Land Use Inventory (ALUI)  shows that 50% (34,147 ha) of the region’s land within the Agricultural Land Reserve is used for farming. Another 25% has potential for farming but is unfarmed; the remaining 25% is unavailable for farming. Getting this unfarmed land with potential for farming into production is a major opportunity and highly important for continued local food security and the regional agri-food economy.

Many of the parcels in the Agricultural Land Reserve are small lots, which makes them vulnerable to residential and other non-farm uses and may lead to more farmland being put out of production. The Metro Vancouver Agricultural Land Use Inventory also shows that 75% of smaller lots in the Agricultural Land Reserve (2 hectares/5 acres) are not farmed. Increasing instances of subdivision of farmland, which creates smaller lots, further threatens agriculture viability.

Metro Vancouver’s role

Metro Vancouver supports a sustainable, resilient and healthy food system by advancing regional agriculture and food policy. Metro Vancouver works with member municipalities, provincial agencies and other organizations to:

• Protect the regional supply of agricultural land
• Increase the amount of actively farmed land 
• Strengthen the economic viability of food production in the region
• Promote the reduction of food waste
• Increase agriculture and local healthy food awareness
• Develop an action plan for local governments to support the Regional Food System Strategy

As the region grows, agricultural lands are increasingly at risk of being used for non-farming purposes.

A key goal in Metro Vancouver 2040: Shaping our Future (the regional growth strategy adopted by all member municipalities) is to protect the supply of agricultural land and promote a viable agricultural sector.

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