British Columbia’s agriculture industry has a proud history and an even stronger future. From family farms operating for more than a century to new farming activities driven by technology revolutionizing the global food supply. I believe this is just the beginning – with the right leadership and direction, our agriculture industry has nearly unlimited potential ahead of it.

As the next leader of the BC Liberal Party, and next Premier of British Columbia, I will…

Recognizing The Changing Face Of The Agrifood And Agriculture Sector

The agriculture, agrifood, and seafood sectors are evolving quickly. We need to continue to protect farmland and traditional farming operations, but at the same time help new agriculture and agrifood activities grow and prosper. That means being more flexible with farmland when it comes to allowing other agriculture-based activities such as agri-tourism, hosting events, building a restaurant, or even craft breweries and distilleries that make use of locally sourced products as part of their operations. All of these activities support agriculture and help better connect British Columbians with where their food comes from while not taking away from legitimate farming activity on the property. That’s why I support updating our agricultural rules and regulations to remain relevant and promote agriculture in this changing landscape.

Supporting And Encouraging The Next Generation Of Farmers

Our Agricultural Land Commission has done an excellent job of protecting farmland across our province, but we must do more to support and encourage the next generation of British Columbians to become farmers and use that land. That means motivating more young people to get involved in agriculture from an early age through 4H and other programs and then finding innovative and creative ways to help them find the farmland needed to set up operations. I would also support the “BC Fairs” movement, to bring more community awareness to the vibrant local agrifood and seafood sectors.

International Trade Opportunities

The export of fresh or frozen BC Agrifood and seafood products is creating thousands of jobs and supporting local economies in communities across BC. We need to continue to help local producers expand their markets by improving both business and transportation connections.

This is particularly true for Northern BC where we need to better connect local producers with the export potential offered by the Port of Prince Rupert. BC agrifood products leaving Prince Rupert for Asia will arrive days earlier than products leaving from Seattle or Los Angeles. We need to take advantage of this competitive advantage.

Trade expansion to Asia is generating vast opportunities to produce fresh and processed food for sale in those markets. We need to expand our BC Trade Offices in Asia to maximize the potential for BC’s highly varied and increasingly high value food sector to take advantage of Asia’s growing middle class.

Supporting Technology In Agriculture

While there is a growing demand worldwide for our agrifood and seafood products, we also have a unique opportunity to use technology to produce these products in the most efficient manner possible, both in terms of cost and limiting the environmental impacts.
We will invest in and partner with these sectors to make sure they are developing and utilizing the most updated technology as part of their operations.

Other Measures

  • Support the construction of a community “Agriplex” in Comox and review the potential benefits of similar facilities in other communities.
  • Support further research into the viability of closed containment finfish aquaculture.
  • Provide a further $5 million to the BC tree fruit industry for a replant program in the Okanagan Valley.
  • Working with BC Hydro and Fortis to develop an agricultural hydro rate that better accounts for seasonal power usage.
  • Encourage British Columbians to grow and buy locally grown food by doubling the “Grow Local” program and by making the program permanent.
  • Increase the level of compensation funding for crop losses due to wildlife.
  • Increasing the “Buy Local” program by $1 Million per year.
  • Stand up for British Columbia ranchers who lost livestock during the recent fires in the Interior.