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N.S. names panel for farmland review

The panel tasked with a public review of the management and long-term future of Nova Scotia’s farmland has been named.

The provincial government on Wednesday named the five members of its previously-announced Agricultural Land Review Committee. They include Rick Williams of Salt Springs, John Van de Reit of Shubenacadie, Bill Swetnam of Centreville, Patricia Bishop of Port Williams and Lise LeBlanc of Newport.

The committee is expected to hold public sessions early in 2010 toward a final report expected in the spring.

Agriculture Minister John MacDonell said in a release Wednesday that the sessions will be public “because we believe Nova Scotians should have a say in how our prime agricultural lands are protected.”

The committee, in its review, is to determine if adequate protection for agricultural lands already exists or whether “additional steps” need to be taken to further protect land, he said.

“A number of issues have been raised as to whether all prime agriculture land should be preserved and how much land is actually needed for food production,” the province said in its release.

The committee is also to explore whether agricultural lands should be protected from non-agricultural developments such as for private homes, hospitals, daycares and recreational facilities.

The review is also expected to look at “the role society should play in any exercise to preserve land.”

Plans to form the farmland review committee were first announced in April under the previous Tory government, but were derailed when Darrell Dexter’s NDP won the provincial election in the summer.

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