OPINION: Helping farmers farm and families thrive

Premier John Horgan visits fruit stand at Mariposa Farms owned by Kulwinder and Kashmir Bengag, who have been farming in B.C. since 1987.

        
     

BY PREMIER JOHN HORGAN

ON my trip to the Okanagan in June, I stopped by Mariposa Farms fruit stand to buy some cherries. The owner, Kulwinder, has been farming in the Similkameen Valley since 1987. Every box of B.C. cherries or bag of locally grown apples she sells helps support her family and the families of her employees.

We’re helping farmers like Kulwinder so they can keep creating good jobs in B.C. and growing the high-quality, local food we depend on.

Farmers and ranchers are essential to our communities. They are important to B.C.’s food security, and they support a strong and sustainable economy. That’s why we are working to protect B.C.’s farmland, encouraging new farmers to bring farmland into production, and developing new markets for B.C. agricultural products.

We’re providing real opportunities to B.C.’s farmers and ranchers to grow their agricultural businesses, while also welcoming the next generation of B.C. farmers in communities throughout the province.

Through programs like our new Land Matching Program, we’re helping more people start farming by connecting new and young farmers with landowners around the province who want to see their fields in production.

To help keep farmers farming, we’re driving innovation and supporting producers through the challenges they face. We’re supporting tree fruit producers and processors to plant new, in-demand varietals, update equipment, and expand their marketing and research efforts. We’re helping hazelnut growers replant with more resilient trees and expand their operations.

In early July, we created a new Food Security Task Force to find new ways to use technology and innovation in B.C.’s agriculture sector. The Task Force will find new opportunities to help farmers enhance productivity, increase competitiveness, reduce waste and improve access to quality, healthy food for all British Columbians.

We’ve passed legislation to increase the independence of the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) and give it the tools it needs to support farmers and ranchers in every corner of B.C. This will stop the construction of mega-mansions and illegal dumping of garbage and construction waste on pristine farmland. It will also stop big developers from driving up the cost of land and support multi-generational farming families.

At a time when produce travels an average of over 3,000 km, buying from our local B.C. farmers is the better choice for both the economy and the environment.

Buy BC is helping farmers and producers market their products to reach more people looking for made-in-B.C. products. We’ve also kicked off a Feed BC pilot program to increase the amount of B.C. food in our hospitals. Feed BC also includes the launch of a food hub network to support B.C.’s growing food processing sector, with the first hub operating as a pilot in Vancouver.

As we head into the end of summer and get closer to back to school, there is no better time to hit your local farmer’s market or produce stand. Get to know your local farmer or food producer. Local food on the table means fresher and tastier meals, because B.C. grown products really do taste better.

7 COMMENTS

  1. He didn’t mention that Bill 52 although effectively hampered mega-mansions has inadvertently hurt small scale farms and family farms by removing the right to a secondary dwelling for immediate family. Now the farmer who has worked their land for 40 years can not move their son or daughter on to the land to take over farm responsibilities. Also young would be farmers who have pooled funds with their immediate family to make it more affordable to start a farm are no longer permitted. Perhaps they could make an application to the ALC but they would need farm status, their immediate family would have to be deemed essential farm help, and they can no longer make an application directly to the ALC so all requests have to be approved and submitted by local government body. While the province faces housing and climate crisis’ this legislation does nothing to encourage sustainable farming and food security.

  2. All this we are helping but where are the links to grants or loans for the farmers, what a bunch of political crap.
    Not one of these members know anything about farming or what it takes to run a farm.

  3. Yes I have seen the government seems to have time to put a positive spin in a lot media points lately but I am one of countless small ALR parcels caught . I am housing two university kids and my aging senior parents would like to have their own place on the property where they can have assistance as needed and they can CONTRIBUTE still in their senior years but this NDP government is removing that option from ALR parcels from here in forward . . Now my parcel is 10 acres and I pay full property taxes on it because it in no way resembles farmable land with steeper slopes and 60 percent of it is in steep watershed heavily forested ravines . These ravines serves to protect the water supplies to our valley and also the Fraser river , there is proposed to be a super well downstream to serve Abbotsford and Mission with water as well as fish bearing and fish farms downhill from my property . And we host abundant wildlife habitat and provide a corridor for bear , bobcat, cougar ,etc. which we work hard to establish room for them and protect our own production which is NO easy task . I pay carbon taxation based directly on my consumption but my forest trees provide carbon sequestering and oxygen production far benefiting others beyond ourselves as well, and there is zero recognition or credit given to that . The land we can actually use and occupy has restrictions due to the slope of it but we organically raise food for our family. All positive stewardship of our agricultural land we happen to have paid through the nose for since our government has allowed investment criteria for foreigners to gain citizenship buying land and farms for decades while removing any chance we had to use our parcels now to host our own families ! I don’t commercially farm but I am held to the same legislation and I steward the land I have as effectively as one could and if any credit were given for the less tangible benefits , I would say I produce more positive protection of the land , soils carbon sequestering and oxygen production and wildlife habitat and lesson the load that importing food places while trying to accomodate a multigenerational family which other wise would need senior care and be competing for rental housing . Now in the same agriultural belt around me the ALC has removed a tract of highly farmable land from ALR in deal so they can subdivide and drill a community well that will directly drain where surround properties draw from, to provide for 100 new parcels and 150 parcels down hill as well . Also nearby is a farm property that now has a vacant warehouse built over what was a blueberry field , intended for a marijuana grow that has already gone bust before it even began production so we have a big ugly warehouse sitting alongside the roadside , no setbacks of greenbelt just gravel fill and warehouse that serves no function that IS the state of what is considered agriculture now . So this leadership we pay for has given little consideration to what lands their legislation affects in my opinion .

  4. The changes actually are making it harder for established family farms. Owners have no rights or control over their lands. It will only get worse. Notice their is no mention of the amount of land on “land matching”. Because in two years it has amounted to only 50 acres. How much has that program cost us. Just more NDP propaganda to gain favour with the masses who have no idea about farming/ranching.

  5. The recently enforced Bill 52 does not “Support multi-generational farming families.” If anything it destroys family farming by invalidating and restricting the important role a family member, who isn’t directly involved with the day-to-day operation, still has for that operation. This statement leaves me wondering if the Premiere understands what’s happened with Bill 52. He either does and is misleading his supporters, or he doesnt and is unknowingly supporting bad policy, either way is cause for concern. Join the discussion on the Facebook group Changes to Bill 52

  6. Bill 52 and soon to be bill 15 are discriminatory and detrimental to the small scale farmer. If you are industrial cannabis or big ag this bought and paid for ministry of agriculture is working for you. If you are a small scale farmer raising healthy, sustainable and ethical food your opinion is not only ignored but your rights are being eradicated. Bill 15 removes farmers as persons under the law. Say good bye to food security, food sovereignty and diverse food crops in BC. Farmland is being taken over by industrial grow ops and big ag. It’s pay to play on BC farmland right now.

  7. The premier is either lying, along with his ag minister, or they are fools that have no clue. Either way, the small farmer is being directly attacked by Bills 52 and 15.

    The bills are also racist to the extreme. The majority of these “mega-mansions’ are in fact homes for multi-generational Indian families. Families who do farm the land and supply a great deal of food for us all.

    Jealousy isn’t attractive, but that is what is pushing these bills, not care about farmland.

    Farmers love the land, big ag doesn’t.

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