Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick addresses the B.C. Liberal Party convention in Vancouver, November 2016.

Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick addresses the B.C. Liberal Party convention in Vancouver, November 2016.

Letnick responds to Green visit

Kelowna-Lake Country incumbent responds to remarks made by Green leader Andrew Weaver

Norm Letnick says the Green Party hasen’t been talking to actual farmers about agriculture.

Green Party leader Andrew Weaver dropped into the Okanagan for a two day visit and blasted Norm Letnick for his handling of agriculture.

But Letnick came out swinging Wednesday, saying Weaver didn’t reference the facts, before heading back to Vancouver Island to shore up support for his flagging campaign back home.

“Mr. Weaver should be forgiven for not understanding the issues in the Okanagan. Unfortunately, that’s what happens when you only talk to the media rather than the people you are supposed to be serving,” said Letnick, BC Liberal candidate for Kelowna-Lake Country.

As the BC election campaign continued and with Liberal leader Christy Clark in Kelowna, Letnick sent out a press release quoting farmers who support him.

“Norm has supported our farming community,” said Phil Patara, president of the Okanagan Sikh Temple. “Farmers have been very happy with Norm as our agriculture minister.”

Letnick said the agriculture industry has grown during his time as minister with the industry responsible for some 63,000 jobs.

“Thanks to Norm we have a new farmers donation tax credit helping farmers and food banks and school meal programs,” said Domenic Rampone, family farmer and 40-year Kelowna resident. “We have the new grow local program helping British Columbians grow their own food. And Norm is leading the country in the discussion on food supply security.”

If elected, Letnick says he will continue to advocate for local farmers and ranchers as well as the agriculture industry province-wide.

“We have set ambitious targets of getting an additional 91,000 hectares into agri-production, reaching $15 billion in sales by 2020,” said Letnick. “Locally we have seen the power in Team Okanagan and agriculture with the strongly funded tree fruit replant program and wine in grocery stores which have helped to increase wine sales overall and returns to grape growers.”

As minister of agriculture Letnick says he helped pass legislation that will put an end to puppy mills in B.C. and has worked closely with the BC SPCA

“It’s important to me to elect people that are going to be supportive of the different ventures and evolution of business,” said Ria Kitsch, lifelong Kelowna resident and co-founder of locally-owned Kitsch Wines.