Cariboo Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett and Minister of Agriculture Norm Letnick in Williams Lake during Letnick’s tour of the Cariboo.

Cariboo Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett and Minister of Agriculture Norm Letnick in Williams Lake during Letnick’s tour of the Cariboo.

Agriculture minister tours Cariboo

B.C’s Minister of Agriculture Norm Letnick said the province is developing regional adaptation plans in response to climate change.

B.C’s Minister of Agriculture Norm Letnick said the province is developing regional adaptation plans in response to climate change.

“What happens in the Peace is different than what happens in the South Okanagan,” Letnick said during a tour of the Cariboo last week.

The regional plans will look at the risks of longer hotter and drier summers, as well as opportunities, such as longer growing seasons, those changes might offer  different parts of province.

“We’re doing that analysis right now to see how different parts of the province adapt best to climate change over the next 30 years or so,” Letnick said.

Letnick said people are happy with the province’s “buy local program” and want to see the $6 million the government invested in the program continued.

Markets are being expanded locally in B.C. and Canada and into other countries, in particular the U.S. and China, he added.

“We exported about $3 billion last year out of Canada and $2 billion of that went to the U.S. and our next largest trading partner was China at about $240 million,” Letnick said.

A big part of his ministry’s mandate for the year is to look at a plan for B.C.’s food security and a part of that will involve encouraging people to buy local products.

Letnick said the province recently launched a new website — AgriService BC — a one-stop shop for farmers and ranchers to ask questions.

Recently the government changed the land reserve regulations to try and provide farmers and ranchers more opportunities to grow income on their land, Letnick said.

“We also wanted to reinforce the independence of the Agricultural Land Commission in making decisions.”

There are three people in each region sitting on the commission to make local decision.

Sitting on Interior Panel Region are Richard Mumford from the Chilcotin, Lucille Dempsey from Kamloops and Roger Patenaude from 150 Mile House.

Last year the issue of selling farm land to a foreign company for planting trees was brought to Letnick’s attention.

“The company has told us they won’t be doing that anymore,” Letnick said. “Maybe they will lease out the land they have bought to young farmers, they don’t know what they will do yet.”

However, the issue has forced government to look at the policy to see if anything needs to change.

“Before and if we make any changes in policy we will consult through our local MLAs with ranchers and farmers,” Letnick said, noting he disagrees that the amount of land owned by foreigners should be limited.

“We are a trading province and we encourage British Columbians to go out and trade and vice versa.”

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