"We are the farmers"

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Agri-business group formed

BY KIRK STARRATT The Kings County Advertiser NovaNewsNow.com

"We are the farmers"

A group of agri-business stakeholders in Kings County and other supporters from the local business community have formed a group called “We Are The Farmers” to represent their viewpoints and concerns.

Spokesperson Peter Elderkin said, following events of the past several years and the recent week of protests in downtown Kentville against county council in regard to preserving agricultural land, concerned area farmers and agri-business people decided it was time to make their voices heard. He contends the group protesting in Kentville does not speak on behalf of local agri-business stakeholders. “Our intention is to provide support to council in their efforts to bring sustainable, balanced development to Kings County with fair and equitable treatment for farmers and agri-businesses,” he said. “We shall provide an opportunity for direct input from the agri-business sector on matters that directly affect us. We are the farmers and we speak for ourselves.”

Advice to council

Elderkin said about two dozen individuals are involved, discussing various issues impacting the agri-business sector. Council has to take control of the municipality, he said, and the politics involved. He suggested councilors only see a fraction of development applications turned away by staff. Not only does council have the ability to improve the business environment, he added, it has to do it.

Elderkin said farms are businesses and need the same ability as other businesses to make decisions and evolve as technology, markets and directions change. “The only thing any business or government cannot survive is the status quo,” he said. “I believe that council must listen to all sides of any question. “In the past, council gave great weight to lobby groups, but I believe that council realizes that a balanced governance is required and that both business and county needs are not addressed by killing all development.”

Zoning issues

Elderkin said something as simple as municipal zoning can be problematic to having a competitive agri-business operation. As agricultural land, it doesn’t have the same value as if it were zoned residential, for example. Whether or not you would want to develop it, if it were zoned residential, you could use the land as an asset to help leverage capital to expand, evolve or otherwise invest in an agri-business operation.

Elderkin said the preservation of agricultural land is a societal issue and expropriation without compensation is not the answer. He believes farmland should be preserved the best we can but not necessarily every inch.

We need growth to help ensure our future economic well being and more consumers are needed to help support the local agricultural sector. For example, he said there is a lot of traffic from Halifax making his and other farm market operations viable from June to October, but we need to improve local traffic.

Geographic location: Kings, Kentville, Halifax

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