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B.C. farmers, ranchers gather in Victoria to grow ag

November 3, 2015, Victoria, BC – Eighty farm and ranch leaders from all corners of the province arrived in Victoria Nov. 3 to kick-start Ag Day.

This semi-annual event – organized by the BC Agriculture Council (BCAC) – includes a series of meetings between B.C. farmers and ranchers, Cabinet Ministers, MLAs, senior government officials and other key stakeholders such as B.C.’s Agriculture Land Commission (ALC). The purpose? To discuss the sustainable growth of agriculture in British Columbia.

Investment in agriculture is cited by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization as “one of the most effective ways to reduce hunger and poverty, particularly in rural areas.” As British Columbia’s third largest resource sector, agriculture is a major economic contributor and a pillar for provincial food security, sustainable rural communities, agri-tourism and agri-food processing.

B.C.’s agri-food industry includes primary production in agriculture, aquaculture and commercial fisheries, in addition to the processing of food and beverages. British Columbia is Canada’s most agriculturally diverse province. In 2014, approximately 20,000 B.C. farmers and ranchers produced more than 200 agricultural commodities.

“Ongoing consumer trends demonstrate that the modern shopper has a desire to purchase high-quality products, and support their local community and local economy”, says Stan Vander Waal, BCAC chairman. “By purchasing locally-made agricultural goods, you’re doing exactly that and more and more consumers are getting behind this mindset.”

Increased development of export markets has also significantly contributed to market growth.

“Ongoing export market opportunities have opened up internationally over the past few years in a range of different sectors,” says Vander Waal. “Paired with the ongoing efforts of the provincial government in terms of their opening of trade offices and trade missions, our burgeoning industries have significantly expanded their yearly sales figures.”