Two significant events in my life and the larger ranching/agriculture community during the past two weeks are worthy of commentary.
The first was the descent into Victoria, that somewhat isolated capital of our province, by 70 or so representatives of the various agriculture producer stakeholders and their council, the BC Agriculture Council (BCAC).
“Leading the way together” was the theme. Meetings between ministers, Members of the Legislature (MLAs) and senior officials were the main activities. The main ceremony saw Premier John Horgan and the minister of agriculture presenting the proclamation of B.C. Agriculture Day.
At these meetings, four themes were emphasized.
One, public trust in our food system is important. Good balanced information about food is critical to building trust amongst consumers.
Two, even small shifts in climate can have significant effects on food production. It is vitally important for government and industry to collaborate in the investment in climate mitigation and adaptation.
Three, farms need support from local and provincial government to ensure agricultural land use is supported. An inter-governmental and industry committee needs to work on ensuring the tax structure allows (along with industry generally) for young farmers to grow their businesses.
Four, all of these previous three matters require working together with government, in another word: collaboration.
It was encouraging to be part of the team of farmers and ranchers gathering and focusing, to celebrate good company, hard work and great food in the provincial capital. B.C. agriculture has a lot of competition in the globalized market place, both at home and abroad.
The second notable event, on an extremely positive note, the first graduating class from the local Thompson Rivers University(TRU) Applied Sustainable Ranching Program (ASUR) was celebrated last Saturday at the local campus.
To celebrate student success, the event featured a “Beef and Beer pairing.”
Six ranches from Spences Bridge to Redstone provided the meat for chili and local breweries from Kamloops to Barkerville provided samples of brews that they recommended to go with the creations of six chefs from food services businesses.
The 150 or so people who were there, included local ranchers, business people and citizen supporters of the program, a dean and a vice-president from TRU Kamloops, and many more VIPs.
The local food and beer were a big part of the festivities.
The excitement was palpable. For me, it was the student success embodied in the completion of the program for the first cohort of students. The address by two valedictorian students: Jamie Demers from Montreal and Sam Ballan from the 111 Mile area was the centrepiece of the evening.
Along with the nursing and other programs unique to this campus, the ASUR TRU ranching will help distinguish the City of Williams lake, the Cariboo and the Interior region. Tom Dickinson, dean of science says there is no other program in the world like this one.
Thanks to the scholarship providers, the university staff and instructors, the community, and especially the students, a good time was had by all. Have I forgotten anyone?