Norm Letnick, the Liberal candidate in Kelowna-Lake Country and B.C.’s current agriculture minister, says a number of policies designed to boost and promote agriculture, including more money for the Buy Local campaign, have been included in this party’s election election platform.
“No matter where you go in British Columbia, you will find agricultural industries and farms that make a big contribution to their communities. Our party values all agricultural producers and are proud to offer them our continuing support,” said Letnick.
“Almost half of the food we consume is produced right here in B.C. and nine-out-of-ten farms are owned and operated by families. Our platform initiatives, such as enhancing the Buy Local Campaign, offering carbon tax relief, and introducing a new meat inspection system, will make a positive difference to B.C. agricultural producers.”
The Liberals agriculture plan has three strategies, he added. While it focuses on high-quality high-value products,it also expands domestic and international markets and stays competitive on taxes and regulations.
According to Letnick, specific measures include:
• Re-introducing the 2013 budget that provided $20 million in carbon tax relief for greenhouse and flower growers and ongoing $4 million in carbon tax relief for farmers who purchase coloured fuel for use in their farming equipment.
• Giving growers a tax credit of 25 per cent of the wholesale value of food donated to a food bank.
• Beginning work on a permanent and sustainable tree fruit replant program, to be implemented following the current three-year, $2 million program;
• Adding a further $2 million to the Buy Local campaign, building on the original $2 million commitment in August 2012. Letnick said this will encourage consumers to think about where their food comes from and will promote so-called “50-mile” and “100-mile” diets.
• Introducing a new meat inspection system effective Jan. 1, 2014.
• Working with the B.C. Association of Cattle Feeders to develop and promote its Certified B.C. Beef brand.
• Continuing to work with other provincial governments to break down barriers that prevent the movement of B.C. wine across provincial borders.
• Creating a Centre of Excellence for Agriculture at the University of the Fraser Valley.
• Working with the organic farming industry to develop a B.C. organic brand to promote the provincial organic food sector.
Letnick, who became agriculture minister late last year, said the agrifoods sector provides more than 61,000 jobs and generates more than $10.9 billion a year in provincial revenues.
“It is Canada’s most diverse agrifoods industry and has the potential to be a $14 billion powerhouse by 2017,” he said.