New Democrats propose strengthening B.C. farming, reversing damage from B.C. Liberal policies

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Lana_AG_press_conf2_small-fileVICTORIA — New Democrat agriculture spokesperson Lana Popham will introduce legislation to improve food security, strengthen our economy, and support B.C. farmers in the face of the B.C. Liberal attacks on the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR).

“The B.C. Liberals aren’t effectively supporting B.C. farmers and protecting B.C. farmland,” said Popham. “Instead of strengthening and capitalizing on the ALR, their strategy has been to weaken it, from the changes brought in through Bill 24, to the unceremonious removal of the independent chair of the Agricultural Land Commission.”

“The legislation we are tabling this week would begin to reverse the damage the Liberals have done by protecting our farmland and making the most of its production and economic potential.”

Popham will introduce the British Columbia Local Food Act, which returns the ALR to a single zone and empowers a legislative committee to help determine the chair and other board members for the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC). It also mandates the Committee to work with the agriculture minister to prepare a plan with targets to boost agricultural production. Under the act, the minister would be required to give annual progress reports on this B.C. Local Food Strategy, and to re-establish the Buy BC marketing program encouraging people to buy locally sourced foods.

Popham joined with Origin Bakery owner Tara Black and Kildara Farms owner Brian Hughes to talk about the direct results that the proposed legislation would have on their businesses by having the government’s support for local procurement and reinstating and expanding a competitive and healthy government supported agriculture market.

“Even though it can be difficult to source, I buy a majority of my ingredients from local farmers,” said Black. “Buying in B.C. means I’m supporting the local economy while getting more premium-quality fresh, flavorful, and nutrient-abundant ingredients for my bakery’s creations. The proposed Local Food Act would give back the necessary support that B.C.’s farming industry had taken away when the government passed Bill 24, making it easier for me to source local ingredients.”

“When the B.C. Liberals passed Bill 24, they began dismantling any strategy of capitalizing on B.C.’s agricultural land,” said Popham. “B.C. has an optimal climate to grow healthy foods and contribute to a healthy economy, so we need to fix the government’s mistakes and make the most of our province’s abundance.”

Popham will also introduce legislation this week which would monitor, regulate, and protect the ALR from attacks such as afforestation through a strengthened role for the ALC.

Copy of the bill – British Columbia Local Food Act 2015