NFU Presents to PEI Standing Committee on Communities, Land and the Environment

Regional Director Reg Phelan and District Director Doug Campbell appeared before the committee on November 2. They spoke about the ways in which the spirit and intent of PEI’s Lands Protection Act have been violated. As a result of their presentation, the Committee will ask for three entities  – Cavendish Farms, Vanco and the Great Enlightenment Buddhist Institute to appear before them to provide more detail on their transactions. You can read the entire presentation here.

Coverage in the Charlottetown Guardian can be found here.

And the CBC-PEI story is here.

Respecting the Spirit and Intent of the Lands Protection Act

Letter to the Editor by Doug Campbell, published in the Charlottetown Guardian

October 23, 2017

The National Farmers Union (NFU) is alarmed by the rate at which farmland is being transferred to large corporate interests. Islanders, especially those in rural communities, know that all around them, land is being transferred generally in non-transparent transactions. What is involved is frequent and widespread under-the radar transfers of large quantities of land to interlocked corporations and to foreign investors. Without much apparent concern on the part of Government, PEI is now a victim of the well-known global land grab.

The PEI Lands Protection Act is the envy of many people in other jurisdictions. However, the NFU has known since the early 80’s that limits on acreage ownership is an important aspect of the Act, if the loopholes regarding these limits were either closed or closely monitored. However from the very beginning the NFU has made a distinction between the letter of the law and its spirit and intent. Premier Angus MacLean, who is the politician credited with proposing the Lands Protection Act was clear that the protection of the land is more than legal ownership. It was understood with the passing of the Act that land protection would require watching over who control land and how they do that. Continue reading

Water, NAFTA and Supply Management

District Director Doug Campbell made the following presentation at a public forum sponsored by the Council of Canadians on October 10. He was part of a panel discussion,  “Boiling Point: Water, NAFTA and Supply Management”, with co-presenters Maude Barlow (Council of Canadians) and Scott Sinclair (Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives).

Here’s what Doug had to say (you can also download the presentation in pdf here:

Let me express my thanks for the invitation to speak to the Council of Canadians in my capacity as Region One District Director of the National Farmers Union. My presentation will centre on the recent Island focus on water use, our environment, and the NFU’s position presented at initial public consultations on the development of a water act; as well as at the draft public consultations. It is our understanding that the Prince Edward Island water act will be introduced in the Legislative Assembly this fall. Unfortunately as the act is not yet public I cannot address the actual proposed legislation.

Humans, animals, and plants are depended on water for their survival, their growth, and their productivity. Without water there is desolation, death, a barren landscape. Water is life. From the moment of conception humans and animals begin their lifelong relationship with water.

Therefore access to pure water needs to be a basic right for all, not a privilege for the select, or a source of economic power for the few. Canadians have witnessed the cost to so many of our First Nations people who have suffered greatly from inaccessibility to clean fresh water. Both governments and individuals have turned a blind eye to deplorable third world water conditions on reserves. Should we doubt that it could happen further a field? It is commendable that our government is taking steps to place itself in a guardianship role with the goals of ensuring provision of sufficient, safe, and accessible water for domestic purposes; and provide protection to ecosystems, while requiring public reporting and consultation, and basing water allocation using science-based facts.

Access to good water is to know health and prosperity. We only need to look at the parts of the world whose infrastructure has been damaged by recent hurricanes. The headlines read of the desperation for water. The plight of our water is the plight of all of us. It is good to note that the proposed water act of PEI states everyone has a duty to protect water.

However, the draft lacks recognition of water as a human and ecological right. It is the hope of the NFU that this is corrected in the proposed legislation. Such recognition in itself will set the tone of the legislation. Access to good water is the right of all. The source of water cannot become a commodity to be exploited in the market place.

Land, water, and air are a joint package. The NFU’s stance is that the debate on water, land and air cannot be separated. To ignore or mistreat even one is to greatly impact the others. Continue reading

Spirit of Lands Protection Act is Being Violated

By Douglas Campbell, Director, NFU District One, Region One

The National Farmers Union, reflecting the concerns of many Islanders, is asking the P.E.I. government to investigate the corporate interests which are taking ownership of immense acreages of farm land.

The NFU presumes that the
land takeovers to date do not violate the letter of the law. It is however clear the spirit of the Lands Protection Act is being seriously violated. The spirit of the Act was, and is, the prevention of massive land takeovers by any entity, corporate or individual, and by out-of-province interests. Only those wearing blinders would argue that land is currently protected from these take overs.

By the letter of the law, from the beginning, no corporation could acquire ownership of more than 3,000 acres and individuals 1000 acres. With some tactics, those limits really have been changed. Given that non-arable land is excluded from the calculations of acreage allowed, the current definition of non-arable land favours an increase of as much as 1,200 acres for a corporation and 400 acres for an individual.

Non-arable land is that on which a temporary agricultural crop was not planted at any time in the immediately preceding four years. Ironically this could include blueberry and orchard lands. Considering the non-arable land factor, we could have a new set of land holding limits as 4,200 acres for a corporation and 1,400 acres for an individual.

Worse than the above, the most flagrant violation of the spirit of the act is the accumulation of land in the hands of single corporate entities. This is very difficult to bring to the light of day because the land is held in the names of different corporations presumably keeping the law by ensuring that no board member owns more that five per cent shares in any other land holding corporation with the maximum allowable acreage.

What the NFU, and the rest of the community, knows is the names of those who are the front people, but the questions are: What is the origin of the money?  Who are the real investors? Besides the longtime locally grown, grasping corporations, we now have on the stage Dutch (Netherlandic), Chinese, and Taiwanese entities. In other words, Dutch, Chinese and Taiwanese money.

As in most parts of the world, P.E.I. is experiencing the plague of land grabbing. The lesson learned is that capitalists worldwide view land as a solid investment, promising future growth in their investment capital. Land is bought up everywhere for the expectation of an incredible increase in value over the years.

At the heart of all land grabbing is a source of investment capital. If the government is serious about its role in protecting P.E.I. land, there must be an investigation of who are the real investors.

Most Islanders know our land history: that for 100 years, our land was in the hands of absentee British land lords. Island farmers held a courageous and painful struggle to win back the land.

To quote the song, “Don’t sell PEI” by Father Andrew Macdonald: “No, No don’t sell P.E.I.; it’s our homeland, our heritage and we want to make it free . . . Shall we return to serfdom now or halt the invading pack?”

– Douglas Campbell, a dairy farmer in Southwest Lot 16, is District Director of the National Farmers Union.

Family Farm More Important Than Ever

Editorial by Douglas Campbell, District Director – February, 2017

National Farmers Union (NFU) leaders in PEI are seeing a new interest in their organization among farmers and the wider non-farming community.

In the recent repeated attempts to have a meeting with Premier MacLauchlan, community organizations expressed their concern and support. To the relief of the NFU the meeting finally took place on Wednesday, February 1, 2017. The NFU officials felt that they were well received.

The NFU outlined for the Premier some basic principles on which the NFU is based since its founding in 1969, by an Act of the Parliament of Canada. The NFU proudly represents the interests of family farmers. The family farm is a unit of food production where the major production decisions are made by the farm family. The farm is small enough to allow it to be worked mainly by the family. It is a unit of food production of a size and value that can be easily and economically transferred to the next generation. Central concerns are for the care of the land, air, and water. The NFU membership consists of farm families, which operate a mixture of small, medium and large farms in all commodity areas. Continue reading