Thanksgiving is often a time for families and friends to gather, and this week federal agriculture minister Lawrence MacAulay took the opportunity to visit BC for the first time since being reappointed to the portfolio in July’s cabinet shuffle.
“It was a relational visit,” said Danielle Synotte, executive director with the BC Agriculture Council, which met with MacAulay to discuss regional priorities on October 10. “We gave him a review of what’s happened in the agriculture sector since 2017.”
Wildfires topped the list, as well as drought and irrigation curtailments that underscore the importance of federal investments in water infrastructure and water security.
Cost of production was also a hot topic, given the pressures facing the livestock sector due to feed, fuel and labour costs.
MacAulay, for his part, had no update regarding the much-sought AgriRecovery program for livestock producers hit hard by this summer’s drought.
“He didn’t confirm or deny anything,” Synotte says.
“We’re still working through the AgriRecovery request,” MacAulay’s staff told Country Life in BC on background.
However, MacAulay did announce a national investment of $9.8 million in Canada’s horticulture sector during a stop at the farm of Marcus Janzen, vice-president of Fruit and Vegetable Growers of Canada (formerly the Canadian Horticultural Council), which will provide matching funds for a total investment of $17.5 million in research spanning five commodity groups. The research will support climate change mitigation, economic development, and sector resilience.
“It’s a commitment to equipping Canadian farmers with the innovative tools they need to produce world-class fruits and vegetables and ensure our sector’s sustainability,” Janzen says in a press release announcing the funding.