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

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

The Outdoor Recreation Council of B.C. says the province continues to invest too little in BC Parks, compared with public demand. (Special to The News)
Outdoor rec group decries parks funding

Golden Ears Park packed by record numbers of visitors

Community residents, businesses, and youth are all encouraged to complete economic development surveys. (The News files)
City of Maple Ridge asks for community input on economic development

Three surveys available online will help shape strategy for years to come

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Schools in Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows exposed to COVID-19

Davie Jones and Hammond elementary schools have confirmed cases

B.C. conservation officer Sgt. Todd Hunter said a black bear is believed to have killed local livestock. (THE NEWS/files)
Black bear believed to have killed miniature donkey in Maple Ridge

Trap set for predator that has been killing livestock near Webster’s Corners

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Lincoln Mckoen. (YouTube)
Anglican bishop of the central Interior resigns over sexual misconduct allegations

Lincoln Mckoen was elected as a bishop of the Territory of the People region last year

The former Kamloops Indian Residential School on the Tk’emlups te Secwépemc reserve. (Allen Douglas/Kamloops This Week)
Tk’emlups preparing for archaeological work at B.C. residential school site where remains found

The 215 graves are, to the band’s knowledge, undocumented deaths for which it is still collecting records

Fans watch the warm-up before Game 6 between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens in NHL playoff hockey action Saturday, May 29, 2021 in Montreal. Quebec’s easing of COVID-19 restrictions will allow 2,500 fans to attend the game for the first time in fourteen months. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Two-thirds of Canadians say governments shouldn’t lift all COVID-19 restrictions

Poll reports Canadians who gained pandemic weight say they have gained 16 pounds on average

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Paul Bernardo is shown in this courtroom sketch during Ontario court proceedings via video link in Napanee, Ont., on October 5, 2018. Teen killer and serial rapist Paul Bernardo is set for a parole hearing today. The designated dangerous offender, has been eligible for full parole for more than three years. Bernardo’s horrific crimes in the 1980s and early 1990s include for kidnapping, torturing and killing Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy near St. Catharines, Ont. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Greg Banning
Killer rapist Paul Bernardo faces parole hearing today; victim families opposed

Designated dangerous offender has been eligible for full parole for more than three years.

People look over the damage after a tornado touched down in Mascouche, Que., north of Montreal, Monday, June 21, 2021. Dozens of homes were damaged and one death has been confirmed. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
One dead and extensive damage as tornado hits Mascouche, Que., north of Montreal

Damage reported in several parts of the city, and emergency teams dispatched to sectors hardest hit

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

Most Read