Farmers are the heart of B.C. food production

Guest editorial; Norm Letnick, Minister of Agriculture

In honour of the Third Annual BC Farmers Appreciation Week, I would like to recognize the importance that farmers have to British Columbia’s economy  and to the health of everyone who lives here.

Farmers are the heart of B.C. food production, and nine out of 10 farms are family owned and operated. Almost 50  per cent of the food consumed in B.C. is produced right here in the province.

Building the local market for B.C. foods is a key component of the government’s  agrifoods strategy, a component of the BC Jobs Plan, to lead the agrifoods  sector growth into a $14-billion-a-year industry by 2017.

Our agrifoods sector provides more than 61,000 jobs and generates close to $10.5  billion a year in provincial revenues so farmers are critical to the province’s  future growth and development.

The B.C. government recently announced that we are investing $2 million to help  B.C. farmers and food processors promote local foods. This funding will support  government’s clear commitment to build local demand and support for B.C. foods  and our farming community.

Government has a record of encouraging British Columbians to support local  agriculture by providing funding to organizations including the B.C. Association  of Farmers Markets and supporting programs such as ‘Behind the Beef’ which is  run by the B.C. Cattlemen’s Association.

This week, please make a special effort to show your appreciation to B.C.  growers:

•  Stop by your local farmer’s market and buy some local produce.

•  When you shop for groceries, look for B.C. foods. If you can’t find the B.C. product you’re looking for, encourage your retailer to bring it in.

•  Go to a fall fair and meet your local 4-H members; they are the future of  farming. The 4-H program is well known for teaching young British Columbians  about agricultural activities and helps young people build life and jobs skills,  guiding them to successful careers in agriculture and beyond.

Farmers ensure that food production in B.C. will continue to grow and support  valuable jobs and healthy communities for centuries to come. Show your  appreciation today.

Connect with the Province of B.C. at www.gov.bc.ca/connect