Opposition Committee Fields Cariboo Farming Concerns
Williams Lake, BC – Farmers and ranchers in the Cariboo were given first crack at airing their ‘beefs’ on what’s happening and what’s not when it comes to BC’s agriculture industry.
The Opposition Standing Committee for Agriculture and Food held its inaugural meeting in Willliams Lake this past Thursday to hear about the challenges facing area farmers.
“The Cariboo was chosen as our first stop because we recognize that this region must be a critical part of a long-term agricultural plan for our province,” said committee chair, Saanich South MLA, Lana Popham. “The food production capacity of the Cariboo is enormous, but its potential is being thwarted by a government focused on other things.”
Popham said committee members heard from presenters concerned that, with the division of the Agricultural Land Reserve into two zones, the Cariboo is seen as less valuable for BC’s food security. She said others raised concerns about the tens of thousands of acres of farmland being taken out of agricultural production for foreign carbon sequestration projects, which, they felt, have left the local ALR land with no opportunity for economic return for the next century.
Meat regulations were another point of contention. “The Minister of Agriculture thinks (the government) has fixed BC’s meat regulations, but we heard the opposite,” said Popham. “There are incredible problems for meat producers and processors. People are still walking away from meat production, or sending the opportunities outside our province.”
The NDP MLA says committee members will be bringing the issues raised during the meeting into the legislature over the coming weeks.
The standing committee’s next stop is scheduled in the Comox Valley in May.