Resource Diversification Key
Prince George, B.C. -When it comes to resource development, it isn’t all about mining, natural gas and forestry products.
B.C. is well position to take advantage of the burgeoning agriculture sector. With a diverse agricultural base, that ranges from berries to grains, there are many possibilities. Of course the access to ports to ship product to Asia is also a plus.
“We need to think long, broad and big” says Michael Hoffort, President and CEO of the Farm Credit Corporation “In the next 15 years the OECD says Canada will be one of only 6 countries that will produce more food than it consumes, That’s an incredible responsibility, that’s an incredible opportunity and I think we are up for the challenge.”
Certainly trade agreements are key to the growth in agricultural exports, “The Trans Pacific Partnership is huge for us” says Kevin Boon the General Manager of the BC Cattlemen’s Association. The TPP opens up export opportunities to the Asia Pacific rim
One of the challenges is to ensure those in the agriculture sector work with other uses of the land. Many ranches in B.C. utilize crown land for grazing. A cattle rancher could be using the same land that is also being used by a trapper, oil and gas companies or tourism.
Tourism is the second highest economic contributor to the province’s GDP, second only to mining. “Most tourists come to British Columbia for it’s natural landscape” says Evan Loveless, Executive Director of Wilderness Tourism Association of BC. That scenery needs to be preserved for the tourism sector to thrive. Loveless says all resource sectors are “important to BC economically and culturally, we are all reliant on the same name natural resources.” He says there needs to be more cooperation so the multiple users are not in conflict.
Co operation between multi- users of the same land is paramount “We have to understand what the other users are, and how we can enhance that” says Hoffort, he points to the wolf population, which has a negative impact on cattle ranching, but may be of benefit to the fur trapping industry “But how do we get the public to understand it’s not a sin to harvest them? But this something that has to come from the ground up, not the top down.”
Cooperation among multiple land users is something the Province is working on says Solicitor General Mike Morris.
Then there`s the matter of making sure those who are using agricultural lands, are using the land only for what they are permitted for.
Enforcement on lands in the Agricultural Land Reserve is difficult says Agricultural Land Commission Chair Frank Leonard “I ‘d like to get to the point where our compliance officers aren’t all in Burnaby, I’ld like to get them out of Burnaby and get them into the regions, so that they were in Prince George, one week a month and in Peace River one week a month so we get them out in the jurisdictions ’cause you can only get so much with a phone call or an email.”