Norm Letnick, BC Liberal candidate for Kelowna-Lake County, says the party’s election platform includes a number of policies designed to boost and promote agriculture, including further funding to the Buy Local campaign.
The BC Liberals agriculture plan has three strategies. One, focus on high-quality high-value products; two, expand domestic and international markets; and three, stay competitive on taxes and regulations.
“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 is proud to offer them our continuing support,” said Letnick.
Letnick says that almost half of the food we consume is produced in BC, 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 BC agricultural producers.”
Specific measures the BC Liberals will implement to help the agricultural sector include:
- Re-introduce Balanced Budget 2013 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;
- Begin work on a permanent and sustainable tree fruit replant program, to be implemented following the current three year, $2 million program;
- Add a further $2 million to the Buy Local campaign, building on the original $2 million commitment in August 2012. This will encourage consumers to think about where their food comes and promote 50- and 100-mile diets;
- Introduce a new meat inspection system effective January 1, 2014 and work with the B.C.; Association of Cattle Feeders to develop and promote their “Certified BC Beef” brand.
- Continue to work with other provincial governments to break down barriers that prevent the movement of B.C. wine across provincial borders;
- Create a Centre of Excellence for Agriculture at the University of the Fraser Valley; and
- Work with the organic farming industry to develop a BC Organic brand to promote the provincial organic food sector.
The agrifoods sector provides more than 61,000 jobs and generates over $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.