On Oct. 29, a few days ago, I attended part of the event at the BC legislature called, BC AgDays.
Led by the BC Agriculture Council (BCAC), which is the biggest agriculture organizations representing 28 member groups, this is the day that agriculture leaders converge at the seat of government to deliver a message and engage government elected members and senior officials hoping to build on the relationship with government.
These days it is no secret that those producing farm products have to be shrill to get through to the ever increasingly urban political representatives and citizens.
A little poll my wife and I did a few weeks ago, telling servers in restaurants in Vancouver where we were from, astounded us. Only one of the many we spoke to knew where Williams Lake was although some of them knew about Kelowna, but not Prince George.
Successive generations of British Columbians and migrants don’t know this big back yard called rural and coastal B.C. They need a constant reminder of the resources that support the food production.
Just knowing about our food system isn’t enough for a citizen of BC. They need to know that we are only about 50 per cent self-sufficient in food and therefore rely on other Canadian Farmers and farmers abroad.
Many would argue that our food security is threatened when food has to come from afar, since fire, flood and pestilence can interfere with supplies getting to us.
Attending the legislative precinct en masse to raise the awareness of the political leaders, is a great idea.
My part this year was to help delegates understand what it is like to be one of those political representatives and senior officials targeted for discussions about the state of agriculture in BC and the issues confronting farmers and ranchers.
The messages that delegates were to leave with the officials was threefold.
First: Ensure the Agricultural Land Reserve supports B.C.’s Farmers.
Second: Encourage Farming on Farmland through Government Policies.
Third: Help Farm Families feel safer on their Farms.
This third point was addressed by the announcement that activist groups protesting farm practices and breaking the laws by invading and threatening farm operators, can be prosecuted.
The other two points are definitely “works in progress” with a lot to do to make them a reality.
Bottom line: ensure farm and ranch viability and young people will want to take our places.
David Zirnhelt is a rancher and member of the Cariboo Cattlemen’s Association. He is also chair of the Advisory Committee for the Applied Sustainable Ranching Program at TRU.