NELSON B.C. - Andrew Weaver, Leader of the B.C. Green Party, released the BC Green Party’s platform on agriculture today in Nelson, B.C. Weaver made the announcement alongside B.C. Greens Nelson-Creston candidate Kim Charlesworth following a meeting with the Nelson Chamber of Commerce.
“Many British Columbians would be surprised to learn that B.C. gets 70 percent of its vegetables from the United States, with more than half of that coming from California,” said Weaver. “As the effects of climate change take hold, those regions are experiencing extreme weather that threatens our food security. B.C. has a tremendous opportunity to grow the food British Columbians need here at home, but actions by the current government are making us less food secure.”
Charlesworth, also the B.C. Greens’ spokesperson on agriculture and food systems, noted the Nelson-Creston riding as an example of the importance of B.C. agriculture.
“The people of Nelson and Creston know the vital role that agriculture serves in nurturing healthy communities,” Charlesworth added. “From the Nelson Food Cupboard to the recently formed regional Food Policy Council, food security is an issue this region takes to heart. I am delighted to be with Andrew as he presents the B.C. Green Party plan for supporting B.C. agriculture.”
Weaver noted that total farm area in British Columbia decreased 7.9% between 2006 and 2011 to 6.5 million acres and that 2014 changes made by the B.C. Liberal government opened up 90% of Agricultural Land Reserve land to other industrial activities like oil and gas exploration. He also noted that ALR land is threatened by real estate speculation and that the agricultural industry faces a labour shortage.
To support B.C. agriculture, a B.C. Green government will:
1. Invest $30 million to enhance the long term viability of the agricultural sector so that it can provide an increasing proportion of the food consumed by people of BC for generations to come. This will include incentives to produce food on Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) land, the establishment of agricultural apprenticeship programs at the secondary and post-secondary levels, and greater advertising and awareness of BC produce and products through expansion of buy-local initiatives.
2. Introduce new legislation to enhance the protection of agricultural land, and to increase the proportion of ALR land in use for agricultural purposes. The legislation will address property speculation, the use of ALR for non-agricultural uses and the construction of mega-mansions and country estates on ALR.
3. Provide $40 million to fund research, and establish regional agricultural bureaus to provide expertise and support to local farmers to adapt to a changing climate.
4. Collaborate with indigenous people, the not-for-profit sector and other land interests to enhance access to land for farming. Alternative land access models such as cooperatives and agricultural land trusts and land-sharing agreements will be explored.
5. Work with farm operators to introduce measures to address labour shortages in agriculture including improvements to remuneration for agricultural workers.
This is the third platform announcement the B.C. Greens have made leading up to the May 9 election. It follows the party’s Strategy on Innovation and Sustainable Enterprise released last week and a number of pieces related to electoral finance and lobbying reform released on March 7.
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B.C. Green Party
Jillian Oliver, Press Secretary
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