Agricultural land can help preserve biodiversity by protecting and enhancing habitat for animals, birds, and plants. Although farming can – and does – impact on natural systems, areas of undeveloped land can provide spaces that help native species of plants and animals survive.

Community farmers hold strong environmental values, and many view farming as a way to connect humans with nature, rather than just a means to produce a commodity or a way to make a living.

In the Community Farms Program, farmers use environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable practices in their farming operations. Farms participating in the Community Farm Program are requested to prepare and follow a Whole Farm Plan. Whole Farm Plans help farm groups plan and set objectives for conservation of their farm’s agro-ecological features.

However, few business incentives are in place to help balance the time and money needed to protect or restore important wildlife and plant habitats.

In fact, leaving areas of a farm uncultivated (for water and soil management, pollination, or setting aside natural habitat areas) may subject BC farmers to a split classification into farm and non-farm taxation rates.

This practice is in place to help protect against taxation abuses by property owners with little or no intention of farming or food production (removing viable farmland from production). But it creates land management challenges and financial risks for farmers who want to practice ecologically sustainable farming.

A Farm Assessment Review Panel has been set up to look at farm taxation classification.

The panel is reviewing farm assessment regulations in BC to ensure the property assessment system is fair and equitable, and supports farming with clear, simple, and straightforward regulations and policies.

Members of the panel include elected local government officials, representatives from BC's agriculture community, government, the Board of BC Assessment and others. Small and organic farmers are not strongly represented, although submissions from farmers, groups and members of the public are recommending changes that support small farms, sustainable farm practices, and local food systems.

The Review Panel will provide the provincial government with a report and recommendations by July 31, 2009, for consideration for the 2010 Assessment Roll.

created by: Barbara Joughin

Last Modified: March 22, 2016