Our government is committed to supporting and strengthening our province’s fruit growing industry. We’re very fortunate here in B.C. to have a diverse and productive industry. The proposed program will cover 3 areas to promote the growth and sustainability of our agricultural industry. See below for a transcript of my statement to the house on Monday October 23, 2017.
First: Grow B.C. – Encouraging B.C. agricultural operations with grants, and other incentives. For more information, please visit: http://iafbc.ca/values-mission/
Second: Buy B.C – Encouraging B.C. residents to purchase locally grown options, at the grocery store, and at markets. Stay tuned for more information about the month-long celebration of B.C. food in May 2018. http://www.eatdrinklocal.ca/
Third: Feed B.C – Encouraging the food service industry to use B.C. ingredients, and increase the use of B.C. foods in hospitals and other government facilities.
Thank you so much to the member opposite. I really appreciate his acknowledgment of all the work that has been going on in the fruit industry and all the British Columbians who are affected.
Our government is committed to supporting and strengthening our province’s fruit growing industry. We’re very fortunate here in B.C. to have a diverse and productive industry. In 2016, B.C. fruit growers produced more than 128,000 tonnes of apples, cherries, peaches, pears, plums, nectarines and apricots. The total represents close to one-third of total Canadian production.
B.C.’s tree fruit industry represents 800 growers operating orchards across B.C. that generate $130 million in wholesale revenue, contribute $900 million in economic activity and directly employ 1,500 in person-years at the grower, packer and processor level.
I do also recognize that many of B.C.’s fruit growers have been devastated by this summer’s wildfires. We are committed to helping the agriculture industry to recover. B.C. ranchers and farmers can now access the $20 million 2017 Canada–British Columbia wildfires recovery initiative to help rebuild their livelihoods. This funding is available through AgriRecovery, a federal-provincial-territorial disaster relief framework.
I’m going to talk about how our government is building even more opportunities for the province’s fruit sector with a three-pronged approach through Grow B.C., Feed B.C. and Buy B.C.
Buy B.C. will offer a recognizable brand on local products and help B.C. food and beverage businesses expand their sales in the province. The highlight of the campaign will be a month-long dining promotion in May 2018 offering consumers the experience to learn about and enjoy fresh dishes made with local ingredients.
The campaign will also feature the return of the Buy B.C. logo, making it easier for people to support B.C. farmers and food processors with an easy-to-identify brand on food products grown and made in B.C. We know that British Columbians are excited about the products that are being grown and produced in our province and are ready to celebrate the success of B.C.’s agriculture industry. It’s time to get the buy-B.C. conversation going.
Feed B.C. will help increase the use of B.C. foods in hospitals and other government facilities while creating opportunities to start or expand a farm or food business in communities throughout the province. The benefits are obvious. Not only will we be working to increase the sale of B.C. food products; we’re working to increase the processing of B.C. foods as well. Creating a market demand for year-round B.C. food products in government facilities and communities around the province brings stability to our domestic market and supports opportunities to start or expand a farm or food business in communities right across the province.
For example, in 100 Mile last year, at the height of the fruit season in the Okanagan, the 100 Mile Hospital was serving fruit cups imported from another country. Our own Minister of Agriculture reported that here to the House — during our own fruit season. She went and talked to some food processors and asked if they would expand their business to meet a B.C. market. They said: “Having a stable market to sell into is all we need. We just need the opportunity, and we would absolutely process B.C. product.”
Grow B.C. will centre on policies and programs that support farmers and help B.C. producers expand local food production as well as support young British Columbians who want to farm. It will include policies that support new entrants and young people getting into farming. British Columbians are so keen to grow local products, and we’ll create opportunities to help people do just that. We’ll support young people who are identifying farming as their chosen livelihood. We’ll encourage them, and we’ll support them.
This program is an important part of our commitment to create good jobs across the province. We know that for every dollar in farm receipts, $2 are spent in local municipalities. When our B.C. food producers succeed, we all succeed. A healthy and striving agriculture industry is critical in creating good jobs and, quite literally, growing our economy, especially in rural British Columbia.