setting clearly defined land-use planning criteria considering more effective policies and other tools that help make agriculture businesses profitable building on initiatives that raise Nova Scotians’ awareness of and support for agriculture clarifying roles and evaluating guidelines for soil erosion and removing topsoil minimizing conflicts between agriculture landowners and neighbours through municipal planning and raising awareness of industry needs Farmers, municipalities and the province will be able to better protect agricultural land in Nova Scotia, thanks to new information and guidance available to them. A new report on agricultural land use includes 28 recommendations to help protect agricultural land from development and preserve it for the future. “Taking good care of our land is a priority for government, and we are committed to helping municipalities and the agriculture industry do the same,” said Agriculture Minister John MacDonell. “Farmers and others who rely on the land to help them earn a living know how important it is to protect and enhance it so it’s available now and for generations to come.” The report identifies roles for the province, municipalities and the agriculture industry to protect and preserve land. It recommends a mix of regulations, bylaws, codes, policies, guidelines, incentives and education. Recommendations include: Also, under the Municipal Government Act, there are five statements of provincial interest that must be considered in comprehensive municipal planning. Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations will soon be seeking input from municipalities to improve the statement for agriculture. In Nova Scotia, there are about 3,900 farms employing about 5,200 people. In 2011, the industry generated $539.7 million in farm cash receipts and $229 million in international exports. “The protection of quality agricultural land is important not only to promote local food production, but as an economic driver for rural Nova Scotia,” said Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities (UNSM) president Jim Smith. “The UNSM looks forward to working with the province and municipalities to develop a consistent policy framework to address the protection of agricultural lands. The report recommendations represent a good first step.” The framework recommends the agriculture industry continue working to raise awareness of its economic and community contributions, and to educate members on best practices to keep soil productive. “We are pleased with the recommendations presented in the report on protecting and preserving agricultural land,” said Beth Densmore, president of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture. “We continue to support the idea of a provincial framework for land use and encourage the Nova Scotia government to move forward in consultation with the farm community.” The report was developed by a working group with representatives from the departments of Agriculture, Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations and Natural Resources. The group’s report, Protecting and Preserving Agricultural Land in Nova Scotia, is available at www.gov.ns.ca/agri .