A brewery in Gibsons says they want to see changes made to Agricultural Land Reserve rules so they can continue operating on their property.

Persephone Brewery says their application for a "non-farm use distinction" was rejected by the Agricultural Land Commission and now they have two years to meet ALR rules — or leave.

"For breweries or distilleries or meaderies, we have to grow 50 per cent of the ingredients we use in the brewing process on the farm where you're producing the beer," Persephone CEO Brian Smith told On The Coast host Stephen Quinn.

"It's effectively asking us, on our 11-acre parcel on the Sunshine Coast, to grow malt-grade barley in the volume necessary to keep our business viable … those are big variables with respect to growing barley. Really, the places in the province that grow good, malt-grade barley are up on the Peace River in the Vanderhoof region, not on the Sunshine Coast."

Ministry defends 'balanced approach'

The Ministry of Agriculture responded via statement defending its guidelines, saying its approach provides a balance between offering farmers a value-added opportunity on their farm and ensuring farming remains an integral part of the overall operation while helping to preserve farmland and encourage agriculture.

But Smith says the rules for breweries, distilleries and meaderies should be made the same as those that apply for wineries and cideries.

Wineries and cideries, he says, are allowed to operate on ALR land without producing 50 per cent of the wine ingredients so long as they buy what they can't grow from a B.C. producer on a three-year contract.

"If that … provision exists, what it does is it incentivizes breweries to help build the agricultural sector in the province," Smith said.

"Right from day one, we have been purchasing more than 60 per cent of our barley from B.C. farms. Our intention has always been [to] achieve what the ALR regulations are trying to do, and that is preserve and advance the agricultural economy in B.C."

Smith says his next step is to go through an appeals process for an exemption for Persephone, and he has no intention or desire to leave Persephone's current location.

With files from CBC Radio One's On The Coast


To hear the full story, click the audio labelled: Craft brewery on ALR land seeks rule changes to stay at location