By Stephen Hawboldt
Gordon Jackson, chair of the Annapolis County Fur Farm Advisory Committee, says the committee can get back to work now that the province has proclaimed the regulations under the Nova Scotia Fur Industry Act. All committee meetings are open to the public.
He said that he has started to review the regulations and they seem similar to the practices followed by many agricultural operations. The committee was to began its initial review of the new regulations last night in Lawrencetown. He said the committee will decide where we go from there.
According to a release from the province, the last-minute charges were made to the act before it was proclaimed and the regulations adopted on last Friday. The changes in the act give existing farms a six-month window to comply with the act if they are expanding. All other existing farms, including new farms under construction when the act comes in force, will have 36 months in which to comply with the act.
Mink And Fox
The new regulations apply to mink and fox farms with more than 100 breeding animals and farms that the province determines will have, “minimal impact on the surrounding environment.” Farm management plans will be required to identify waterways within 100 meters of the farm’s property line and to designate wells and waterways on the property. Separation distances between some on-farm operations and neighboring residential properties will be 50 to 100 meters depending upon the use.
If required under the act, farms will need to establish surface water quality monitoring programs including the establishment of baseline parameters. The province may also require that farms establish groundwater monitoring programs if circumstances require it. The regulations do prescribe water quality concentration limits for some chemical and biological discharges.
The regulations stipulate that fur farming management plans must be completed by a professional engineer. Also included in the list of eligible persons are those, “who have practical experience in agricultural, bioresource, civil, environmental or resource engineering.” As well, persons who have completed departmental seminars on the requirements of the act can develop these plans.
In a media release, Agriculture Minister John MacDonell said, "We talked with Nova Scotians, we heard their concerns, and we've put in place regulations that will help the industry contribute to our economy while protecting our environment."
Dennis Boudreau, president of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture. "Although it will download costs to the farm business, the federation feels the regulations are a reasonable balance to protect our environment while allowing the industry to develop."
Gordon Jackson said that while the recommendations of the committee must meet these requirements, the committee can also choose to set higher standards. The Fur Farming Advisory Committee is due to make its recommendations to the Planning Advisory Committee and municipal council within a couple of months. If members of the public wish to observe the deliberations of the committee, meeting details are available from county planning staff.