B.C. Agriculture Minister meets with Okanagan industry leaders

When “a local legend like orchardist Fred Steele is there, it is time to listen…”

Agriculture and food production contribute to the fabric of British Columbia in terms of food supply, economic activity and community strength.

The question is clear: How can B.C. continue to build its agriculture industry?

For the past two days, Agriculture Minister Lana Popham has been providing her vision to local leaders, and hearing their ideas on ways to ensure British Columbia has secure farmland and secure farmers in the future.

“Agriculture has a way of bringing people together and I have been sharing my exciting ideas to Grow BC, Feed BC and Buy BC,” Popham said.

“However, when you walk into a room and a local legend like orchardist Fred Steele is there, it is time to listen. I want to thank Fred and all the growers in the Okanagan for their leadership and advice during my visit.”

The British Columbia government is building opportunities for the province’s tree-fruit sector with programs that will encourage new growers, and increase production and a higher consumption of B.C. tree-fruit products today and for future generations.

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The tree-fruit replant program received another successful intake for the 2018 planting season. It is helping growers replace fruit trees with new, high-value and high-quality fruit, such as Ambrosia and Honeycrisp apples, as well as late-season cherries.

The replant program has been so popular that the B.C. government has provided an additional $300,000 in funding for fiscal year 2017-18, so even more growers can take part in the tree-fruit replant program.

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“Whether it’s a freshly picked apple from an orchard in the Similkameen, tasty Oliver cherries, a fruity glass of award-winning Okanagan wine or a jar of local honey, agriculture is for everyone,” Popham said. “The Okanagan is a vital part of our food system and part of B.C.’s heritage, and I look forward to continuing to work with people in this region and building B.C. agriculture.”

British Columbia is Canada’s largest fruit producer, with over 296,000 tonnes of fruit valued at $397 million in 2016.

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