Purchasing a farm is probably one of the biggest, most exciting, and most stressful decisions that you will ever make in your life. There is just so much more to it than simply finding a property you like and making an offer, especially if you’re planning on working on the farm yourself or leasing it to others.
Each province has its own rules and regulations regarding its farmland, so if you’re planning on buying a farm in British Columbia, then this article is for you. Here are some of the most important things to know about buying, working, and leasing a farm in BC.
In 1973, the British Columbia Agricultural Land Reserve (or ALR) was established to zone and protect farmland across BC, which accounts for only about 5% of its total area. Any of this ALR land that is not being used for agricultural purposes is closely regulated by the regulating authorities.
Therefore, if you’re considering buying a farm in BC, it’s important to confirm whether the land is part of the ALR, especially if you wanted to use it for non-agricultural purposes. There should be an ALR notation on the title, but it’s important to note that there have been instances where titles with the notation have been found outside the ALR, and occasions when those without the notation have been found inside the ALR. There are maps that show where the ALR land is located, but if you’re unsure then it’s best to speak with your real estate engine or local government agency.
Agricultural Leasing Benefits for Landowners
Farm leases are an important part of agriculture in BC, especially in places such as the Lower Mainland area. If you’re buying a farm with the intention of leasing it out, you’ll be able to take advantage of the following 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 great resource for both farmers looking to lease farmland and landowners looking for someone to work their land. Their Land Matchers will help you assess any opportunities, understand regulations, and ultimately negotiate a lease agreement between the farmer and the landholder. This is a fantastic 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.