VICTORIA— New Democrats are taking the unprecedented step of convening an Opposition Standing Committee on Agriculture and Food after well over a decade of B.C. Liberal neglect of the B.C. agriculture industry.
“New Democrats believe that agriculture deserves a place in the legislature and we fully intend to give it the attention it deserves.” said New Democrat Leader John Horgan.
“Agriculture is a multi-billion dollar economic generator that has enormous untapped potential. This is an industry that can unlock prosperity in communities throughout the province. That’s why I’ve asked our New Democrat agriculture spokesperson Lana Popham to work with her colleagues to bring this conversation to people across the province.”
New Democrat agriculture spokesperson Lana Popham noted that a Standing Committee could help reverse the age gap in B.C.’s agriculture industry by developing strong agricultural policies that incent young people into agriculture, and allow them to make a good living.
“Retaining young farmers is critical to having a strong agricultural future. The B.C. Liberals have not taken the steps needed to encourage young people to get into the industry. In 15 years they haven’t developed a long-term agriculture plan and they have put our provincial food security at risk,” said Popham.
Popham has worked for the last six years to get the B.C. Liberals to bring back the Select Standing Committee on Agriculture, which hasn’t met since 2001. She says that although the Opposition Standing Committee on Agriculture and Food will be operating without legislative supports such as Hansard, the committee has support across the province.
“I have heard tremendous support for a legislative committee from all parts of the agriculture industry,” said Popham. “We have support from small farms and big farms, conventional farmers and organic farmers, and from entrepreneurs and food security advocates.
“Although we would prefer a Select Standing Committee with legislative support and both sides of the legislature participating, we believe we can accomplish important work.
“British Columbians can’t afford to wait for action on agriculture in the face of climate change and missed economic opportunities. We must have a long-term, sustainable agriculture and food plan in order to be resilient.”
The members of the committee are:
- Lana Popham, MLA Saanich South
- Raj Chouhan, MLA Burnaby-Edmonds
- Katrine Conroy, MLA Kootenay West
- Robin Austin, MLA Skeena
- Nicholas Simons, MLA Powell River-Sunshine Coast
A schedule of committee meetings, a public website and information on how the public can participate will be released over the next month.