Delta South MLA Vicki Huntington and Saanich South MLA Lana Popham toured the province speaking to farmers.

B.C. aims for $15B in farm product revenues

Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick says climate change may benefit B.C. agriculture, but more irrigation is a priority

The B.C. Liberal government and opposition MLAs both want greater success for the province’s farmers, but they don’t see eye to eye on how to achieve it.

Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick released the government’s latest strategic growth plan Wednesday, raising the target from $14 billion to $15 billion by 2020. Total revenues from farm and food products reached $12.3 billion last year, a record.

The plan suggests that as climate change creates warmer conditions, B.C. may benefit even as tropical food production declines. The province also expects new trade deals with Korea and the European Union, and the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership, to increase farm and food product sales.

Letnick said one strategy the government is pursuing to increase the amount of productive farmland in B.C. is to improve access to irrigation.

An opposition agriculture committee chaired by NDP critic Lana Popham and independent Delta South MLA Vicki Huntingon released its own report Wednesday after a province-wide tour to consult farmers.

Their report says the high cost of farmland is a major deterrent for new farmers to enter the industry. It calls for the establishment of a provincial trust to buy and preserve farmland for new B.C. farmers, as well as new rules to restrict sale of farmland to foreign buyers.

Popham and Huntington said they heard criticism from farmers about the decision to divide the Agricultural Land Reserve into two zones, with more non-farm uses allowed in the Interior zone. They renewed their call for the government to return to one zone and hire more compliance staff to make sure farmland isn’t being inappropriately used.

Letnick said it’s too early to tell what effect the two-zone ALR system is having on farmland, and he will report in the spring on the results of the new system.

Despite the B.C. salmon farm industry being targeted for years by environmental campaigns against it, B.C.’s top export food product is cultured Altlantic salmon, followed by “food preparations for manufacturing,” blueberries, baked goods and crab.

Farmed salmon is also the third most valuable product in total B.C. sales, after dairy and poultry products. Farmed salmon sales were $504 million, compared to $554 million for dairy and ahead of greenhouse and field vegetables, which had revenue of $449 million in the province’s latest figures.

The B.C. government’s plan also includes “supporting international media missions to increase awareness of the B.C. aquaculture industry and increase demand for B.C. seafood products to key markets.”

The province announced four new net-pen salmon aquaculture tenures this past July, after federal permits were issued, then announced no more tenures will be granted until a review of application and approval procedures is completed.

 

Just Posted

Castlegar council meetings will soon be online

Council chambers will be getting new microphones and cameras.

Slocan Valley to be ‘lit up’ with high-speed internet in 12 months

125 kilometres of fibre-optic cable to be laid from Nakusp to Playmor Junction

Vigil re-affirms belief in peace, acceptance in wake of New Zealand massacre

Nearly 100 show up for solemn event at Mir Centre for Peace

Police bust drug operation in Castlegar

Man charged, will go to court in August

Zoning mix-up nixes Shoreacres property sale

Man says the RDCK’s listings online don’t match his property’s official zoning

VIDEO: The ‘most cosmopolitan’ of butterflies could migrate to B.C.

The painted lady butterfly will likely arrive this summer from Southern California

Is it a homicide? B.C. woman dies in hospital, seven months after being shot

Stepfather think Chilliwack case should now be a homicide, but IHIT has not confirmed anything

Indecent caller handed 18-month conditional sentence

Vancouver Island man pleaded guilty to making indecent phone and video calls to women across B.C.

Sources say Trudeau rejected Wilson-Raybould’s conservative pick for high court

Wilson-Raybould said Monday “there was no conflict between the PM and myself”

First Nations public art piece stolen in Nanaimo

Spindle Whorl went missing over the weekend, according to Nanaimo RCMP

Father-son duo at B.C. Children’s Hospital helps new dads fight depression

The pair teamed up to introduce the only known research-based mindfulness workshop for new dads

Mexican restaurant in B.C. told to take down Mexican flag

General manager of Primo’s Mexican Grill in White Rock: ‘I’ve never heard of anything like this’

B.C. NDP moves to provide tax credits, tax cut for LNG Canada

Provincial sales tax break of $596 million repayable after construction

COLUMN: Smart phone too powerful a tool to yank from students’ hands

Rather than ban them from schools, let’s teach kids to harness their phone’s power and use it properly

Most Read