Despite the austerity talk in Victoria, new agriculture minister Pat Pimm says there wasn’t a reduction in the budget for his new ministry from that presented in February, when the new budget came down last week.
That means both the Buy Local program and the School Fruit and Vegetable program are still there, but that there’s no new money for an orchard replant program.
However, he maintains that the orchard industry is important and he intends to pursue items the former minister was working on.
The last minister, Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, had committed to do what he could to come up with a longer-term replant program. “We will do our best to work some certainty into it. A long-term strategy is needed,” Pimm said.
He admits it’s a very diverse ministry and says he’s spent the first couple of weeks getting up to speed on some of the issues.
There are 200 commodities in the agriculture side of his portfolio and 100 on the aquaculture side of it, he noted.
“I’ve grown up in the Peace region and been around grain and cattle most of my life, and it’s a key interest in our community. I’m very excited to have the agriculture portfolio,” he commented.
Following a one-month session of the legislature this summer, he said he plans to tour the province and visit the various agricultural areas, including the Okanagan.
He has a small-business background and says he’s already started good relationships with some of the commodity groups his ministry works with, and he intends to continue.
He’s enthusiastic about the new agri-foods program and the federal-provincial Growing Forward program.
Pimm’s appointment makes eight agriculture ministers in just five years in B.C.; 12 in 20 years, but his outlook on that is positive: “It’s good to see some former (agriculture) ministers in cabinet.”