Every province has its own rules and regulations regarding its farmland. Being aware of these regulations is key to buying a farm in British Columbia. Here are some of the key things to know about buying, working, and leasing a farm in beautiful BC.
The Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR)
The British Columbia Agricultural Land Reserve (or ALR) was established in 1973 to zone and protect farmland across the province. Any ALR land that is not being used for agricultural purposes is closely regulated by the regulating authorities.
If you’re considering a farm purchase in BC, you need to confirm whether the land is part of the ALR. Particularly if you wanted to use it for non-agricultural purposes. There should be an ALR notation on the title of the property, however, there have been occasions where titles with the notation have been found outside of the ALR, and sometimes properties without the notation have been found inside the ALR, so make sure you double-check. Maps are available that show where the ALR zoning is located, but speak with your realtor or local government agency if you're unsure.
Agricultural Leasing Benefits for Landowners
Farm leases are an important part of BC agriculture, especially in the Lower Mainland and Okanagan. If you’re buying a farm with the intention of leasing it out, you’ll be able to take advantage of these benefits:
- Adding cultivation value to untouched land, or for land that has been previously farmed, the chance to try producing a new crop
- The ability to take a break from farming. Leases in the Fraser Valley region, for example, can be as short as one year
- If you’re leasing ALR land, retired farmers can benefit from property tax exemptions if someone else continues to farm the land. There may also be other land lease tax advantages depending on your situation.
If you’re not sure where to start looking for someone to lease your land, you should check out the BC Land Matching Program.
BC Land Matching Program
The BC Land Matching Program is a resource for farmers looking to lease land and landowners looking for someone to work their land. The program will help you assess any opportunities, understand regulations, and negotiate a lease agreement between the farmer and the landholder. The program that gives new farmers the chance to enter the BC agricultural industry, as the high costs of farmland are a significant barrier to those first starting out.
For more information on buying and selling farmland, contact Murray Metherill at Selling Shuswap directly.