Letnick: 2015 a record year for agriculture in B.C.

The $6-million Buy Local program has helped B.C. companies find new customers locally.

With the fall session of the Legislature now complete, I’d like to reflect on a top highlight for me as MLA for Kelowna-Lake Country and Minister of Agriculture. It’s an issue that pertains to both my constituency and my ministry—and most importantly, to the provincial economy that sustains the services that are most important to us, like health care and education.

I’m talking about the day in early November when I was joined at the Legislature by B.C. farmers and food producers to note a record year for B.C. food sales. We saw $12.3 billion in sales of B.C. food products in 2014, the highest ever— and up 5.9 per cent over 2013. That success comes from a combination of efforts on the part of industry, government and of course—you, the supporter.

The first set of contributions come from industry which includes primary production in agriculture, aquaculture and commercial fisheries, and processing of food and beverages. These operations are run by entrepreneurs and family businesses that pour their hearts and souls into ensuring B.C. products are of the highest-quality. We wouldn’t be celebrating these record sales if the products weren’t up to those high standards and continually driving more demand. These folks also keep issues of B.C. food security top of mind, ensuring the production of delicious, nutritious local food for generations to come.

On the government side, our job is to create a positive economic climate and help build domestic and export markets for B.C. foods. British Columbia has among the lowest income tax rates in Canada, and enjoys strategic investments in innovation and infrastructure that facilitate trade, opportunities and sales for our businesses.

What’s more, the $6-million Buy Local program has helped B.C. companies find new customers locally. Further afield we see a network of 13 international trade offices, trade missions, and innovation and market development funding that have all played roles in growing our province’s exports– which at $3 billion in 2014 set a record of their own.

The final partner in this success is you, the consumer. Supporting our local farm families puts food on your table as well as theirs. From mouth-watering Okanagan fruits and wines, to fresh Fraser Valley dairy and poultry, to Vancouver Island seafood and artisanal cheeses—you’ve shown your appreciation for our local bounty and helped support our economy at the very same time.

That’s why I can’t encourage you enough to keep up the good work by buying local this holiday season. From the Christmas meal you’ll be serving to loved ones, to the gifts you’ll be giving to co-workers and friends—there are lots of opportunities to support local farmers, growers and producers. And with more than 200 primary agriculture products and about 100 species of fish, shellfish and marine plants produced in our province, there’s certainly no shortage of items to choose from! Enjoy the best B.C. has to offer this holiday season.

Just Posted

Registration opens for Okanagan Singer-Songwriter competition

Lake Country - The seventh annual competition auditions are held around the Okanagan

Youth athletes get $22k from Kelowna builder

Mission Group supports a group of ten elite cyclists and triathletes from around Kelowna

UPDATE: Tsunami warning cancelled for coastal British Columbia

Warning issued following 7.9 earthquake off Kodiak, AK

Coordinated search finds missing Kelowna boy

All available police resources were called in to help find a missing boy Monday afternoon

Kelowna students leave for downhill challenge

A group of students from UBCO is ready for annual concrete toboggan race

Testing the Google Arts & Culture app

Going face to face with art

‘The tsunami alarm failed my household’: North Coast residents concerned over sirens, alerts

People living in northern communities share how they learned about Tuesday’s tsunami warning

Flying squirrel touches down inside Salmon Arm home

Rodent jumps around residence before homeowers encourage it back outdoors

Snowboarder dies at Vancouver Island ski resort

Death at Mount Washington Alpine Resort

Taylor: Humans the theory makers

Lake Country columnist Jim Taylor writes weekly in the Calendar

Man faces 48 charges in string of random Toronto shootings

The string of unprovoked shootings began Jan.9, say police

Slayer adds Penticton to North American tour

Slayer adds the South Okanagan Events Centre as a stop on their last tour

‘Shape of Water’ producer, Christopher Plummer among Canadian Oscar nominees

Guillermo del Toro film about merman romance earns 13 nominations

Vancouver Canucks confirm participation in NHL Young Stars

Canucks confirmed participation, at least for this year, in the NHL Young Stars event in Penticton

Most Read