BC Agriculture Council representatives stormed Victoria this week for meetings with cabinet ministers and MLAs as part of the annual Ag Days lobbying event.
This year’s event was the first in-person meeting since 2019, following two years of Zooming in to make the case for agriculture to government.
“This year’s discussions will focus on producer-led solutions to address rising input costs, farm classification, environment and climate change, and farm trespass,” BCAC said in a press release announcing the agenda for the two-day event.
A reception that brought industry representatives together with MLAs and government staff took place Monday night, kicking off the two-day marathon of meetings.
The issue of farm trespass took centre stage three years ago during the last in-person event, with government pledging to strengthen protections for farmers at the opening reception.
But three years later, no greater penalties have been adopted to deter trespass. Indeed, while a judge felt 60 days was an appropriate prison sentence for the two convicted in the invasion of Excelsior Hog Farm in Abbotsford two years ago, extenuating factors resulted in a sentence of merely 30 days. An appeal by the two parties convicted means the sentences will not be served immediately.
Nevertheless, BCAC president Stan Vander Waal was looking forward to productive discussions with government this year to address the ongoing and emerging issues facing the farm sector.
“We believe there is strong alignment between industry and government priorities that would bring innovation, and rejuvenation to the next generation while creating jobs for resilient rural communities and enhancing provincial food security and economic growth,” he said in the BCAC press release.
BCAC executive director Danielle Synotte indicated the meetings were productive and BCAC’s board is discussing the results.