While it cut funding to the agriculture ministry this year, the BC NDP is pledging to expand many of its existing initiatives for agriculture if re-elected in the October 24 election.
The three planks of BC NDP agriculture programming – Grow BC, Feed BC and Buy BC – will be “strengthened,” according to the platform released October 6.
“We’ll expand these programs with new worker training, land acquisition supports, and new processing hubs,” the platform document claims.
The platform also proposes a “Regenerative Agricultural Network” that combines natural systems of production with agri-technologies such as “robotics, precision farming, and mesh networks.”
The proposal echoes a report of the province’s food security task force, which drew fire earlier this year for recommending a 28,500-acre agri-industrial zone within the Agricultural Land Reserve. While agriculture minister Lana Popham downplayed the proposal, emphasizing the importance of protecting food producing lands, the emphasis on agri-tech reflects the priorities of the government’s most recent economic plan.
The six-point agriculture platform offered by the BC Liberals promises to reform the Agricultural Land Commission, rescinding policies it claims “unfairly discriminate against farmers.” These includes changes the BC NDP made to the governance of the ALC and permitted uses of the ALR.
The top priority is amending the province’s Trespass Act to protect the properties and livelihoods of farmers.
Overall, the BC Liberals pledge to ensure the “security and longevity” of local food systems by enhancing the self-sufficiency of the industry. It makes no reference to new programs or spending, focusing primarily on the removal of obstacles that make it tough to be a farmer in BC.