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Vigilance required to protect farmland
Editor: Re: “Nasty debate over farmland,” (The Times, June 9).
For Tom Fletcher, a fan of the recent ALR bill, only “a flood of exclusions of prime agricultural land” might make the concerns about it “at least partially true.” Short of the flood, it seems any bad effect from the weakened Agricultural Land Commission Act is nothing.
Fortunately, the bill spurred wide pro-ALR action. The efforts to stop “the bill to kill the ALR” (at least for consultation) were also a means to boost the critical mass of aware citizens for the next stage, which is now.
Awareness matters. We saw that in Richmond a few years ago when a fellow who publicly wanted a high-profile property out of the ALR almost got onto the Agricultural Land Commission panel to decide on it. Of course, the ALC is a tribunal, and like a court it is meant to start with evidence, not decisions.
Until the recent bill kneecapped the commission, current chair Richard Bullock was modernizing the ALC methods for quality assurance and efficiency, minimizing mistakes. Now the changes to the ALC Act have disabled much of the progress and worse. With vigilance, the harm can be limited.