Farm groups at odds over Lands Protection Act
The two major groups representing farmers on P.E.I. are on opposite sides of a discussion about how big a farm on the Island should legally be.
The province has appointed a commissioner to review the Lands Protection Act, which currently limits land holdings to 1,000 acres (450 hectares) for an individual and 3,000 acres (1,350 hectares) for a corporation.
Commissioner Horace Carver is holding meetings, seeking input on whether the act needs to be updated.
The P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture is asking the province to increase the maximum farm size to 4,500 acres. Potato farmer and federation president Alvin Keenan said many farmers are struggling to comply with the current size limit.
"In the potato industry alone, as we try to work in [the Agricultural] Crop Rotation Act, it takes almost three acres of arable land to grow an acre of potatoes," said Keenan.
But the National Farmers' Union argues the current limits are adequate, especially with the 2009 rule where farmers can exclude up to 40 per cent of environmentally sensitive land, such as marsh or woodlot, from their holdings.
NFU representative Randall Affleck said increasing the limit will make it even harder for new farmers to afford to buy a farm.
"If you've got a very large operation, who's going to buy that operation?" said Affleck.
"The risk, in my view, is that the only market [for a large farm is] other larger farms."
Three months of meetings on the Lands Protection Act wrap up Saturday in Wellington.