The rising prices of agricultural lands and the difficulties these pose to the next generation of farmers are a recurring topic in Quebec news media. Taking note of the situation, the Quebec government has tabled Bill 103, one of its goals being to facilitate the next generation’s acquisition of agricultural land by authorizing the fragmentation of large farms into small plots of a few hectares each. Such a measure would allow the emergence of new types of agricultural production and enable some healthy competition with the already established business model of large-scale farms.
This new way of doing things, more affordable for new owners, encourages a certain proximity between producers and consumers. Quebec’s Union Paysanne considers this bill to be necessary if small-scale farming is to have a chance to grow. It goes without saying that more competition resulting from new business models is a good thing for Quebec farming’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, providing consumers with more choice.
Unsurprisingly, the Union des producteurs agricoles (UPA) has come to the defence of its members and their large-scale industrial farming business model, evoking the possible arrival of real estate developers on agricultural land, even though the primacy of the commissioner of the Commission de protection du territoire agricole du Québec (CPTAQ) is maintained. This position is directly opposed to healthy competition and the entry onto the market of new farm owners.
The point is not that small is necessarily better than big. The point is that consumers can decide for themselves, and regulation should always be designed to favour the creativity of entrepreneurs and the implementation of innovative ideas in order to encourage a more prosperous economy. This will result in a wider selection of products that better meets the varied needs of consumers.