Representatives of agriculture organizations from across BC met with provincial cabinet ministers and staff today as part of a virtual BC Agriculture Day.
With meetings continuing past 5 pm yesterday, the event organized by the BC Agriculture Council was set to include 35 meetings over two days with more than 50 farmers, ranchers and agricultural representatives in attendance.
“Cultivating our relationships with key government stakeholders is critical to the success of our sector,” BCAC president Stan Vander Waal said in a statement ahead of the meetings. “Diverse as we are, we all share the same common goals and interests at the end of the day and bringing those messages on a united front demonstrates the sector’s significance.”
This year’s discussions are focusing on food security, water security and labour – three top priorities that have been top issues for both farmers and the public over the past year.
During the pandemic, supply chain disruptions highlighted the importance of having dependable access to food, in turn boosting interest in local production. But healthy food also depends on a healthy environment, putting the focus on protecting water and other natural resources. This year’s heat wave saw record water use on some farms. Next year’s March 1 deadline for existing groundwater users to obtain water licences and protect their rights also looms large.
Meanwhile, growers continue to work with government to address issues affecting access to both local and foreign talent.
Typically held in Victoria each fall, the meet-and-greet with government representatives was put on hiatus last year, making this year’s discussions that much more important.
BCAC communications manager Cassy James told Country Life in BC that the meetings are bearing fruit.
“[We’ve] been successful in securing follow up meetings on a number of key priorities,” she says.