Lana Popham calls for next B.C. NDP leader to defend Agricultural Land Reserve  


Reprinted from the Georgia Straight.

By Matthew Burrows

The B.C. NDP’s agriculture and lands critic believes the gap at the top of her party provides an opening for her to demand that the next party leader protect the Agricultural Land Reserve.
Popham said.

Island Pollinators  


There is a crisis right now on Vancouver Island: about 90% of the honey bees on the island disappeared last winter! We aren't sure why, but the provincial government is making the situation worse by failing to investigate what's happening and allowing people - for the first time in 22 years - to import honey bees from the mainland.

Kudos to Greg Horne for making this documentary! Watch it and you'll know why island bee-keepers swarmed the BC Legislature this fall...and why it is so important that we protect our precious island pollinators.

I also want to acknowledge the resolution adopted at the recent BC Honey Producers' Association AGM:

The BC Honey Producers' Association [shall] send a letter to the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands stating that we have lost confidence with the Apiculture Program and are seeking change, with more consultation, to enhance communication and increase the sustainability of beekeeping in British Columbia.

Please take a moment to support my efforts to persuade the Ministry of Agriculture to address this serious situation: click here.

Thank you,

Lana Popham, MLA Saanich South

Agriculture and health on critic's mind  


Reprinted from the Invermere Valley Echo

NDP Agriculture Critic Lana Popham
 speaking to students at 

DTSS in Invermere.
Darryl Crane/echo photo
By Darryl Crane

Published: November 16, 2010 1:00 PM

Students and residents of the Columbia Valley had a special visitor when MLA for Saanich South and NDP critic for Agriculture and Lands, Lana Popham came to the area.

Popham was elected MLA for Saanich South on May 12, 2009 and is a well-known environmental and community activist, businesswoman and organic farmer.

Popham was on her first visit to the area and took the time to learn more about concerns locals have in the agricultural industry.

“I have not had the opportunity to come into this area and see what is going on agriculturally. I am very committed to sustainability. This area is amazing for what it is doing. I tour many towns that have the vision but the action here takes my breath away,” Popham said.

Popham started her tour in Cranbrook before moving on to Kimberley where she met with some local ranchers.

She then came north to Invermere to visit farmers who are involved with aspects of agriculture that are close to the MLA’s heart.

“They are doing things in a similar setup to what I used to do and it made me want to get out there and help them because I missed it so much,” Popham said.

Popham said she has heard that some people feel that there are fewer new farmers but she is of the belief that people do want to become involved with the industry but they want to do it in a new style that is concerned about sustainability and local food.

“This is a teachable moment where consumers are begging for local food and we have people who want to produce it. The problem is that we do not have the provincial support in agriculture right now to make it easier to do that,” Popham said.

When looking at the future of agriculture in British Columbia Popham had some ideas on what could be done by the government to help.

“We had a great program up to eight years ago. It was a buy BC program. Farmers want our products to be marketed to us. They want to have labelling so we know where products are from. It was very successful.

"The Ministry of Agriculture is so ill-funded right now that there is no money for that but it is hard for me to understand why we would not invest in a program that is going to give some strength to our domestic economy,” Popham said.

Another idea that the MLA has involves looking at the way the food in B.C. is being distributed and the possibility of better using the rail-system to move food throughout the province.

As Popham continues to talk to people in B.C. about the issues surrounding agriculture in the province she is working on a document to highlight both the issues and ideas on how to make the industry more efficient.

While in Invermere Popham stopped in to talk to students at David Thompson Secondary School (DTSS) and see some of the programs which involve food at the school.

“The greenhouse and the chefs' program were the attraction. Connecting kids to food is critical right now. We are seeing skyrocketing Type 2 diabetes in kids and that is related to what they are eating. We are feeding them sugar-laced, fat-ladened, highly processed food. That has to raise alarm bells,” Popham said. She added that she was very impressed with the chefs' program and the food that they are making.

She also passed on a great deal of credit to the teachers at DTSS who are responsible for helping students in their lives.

In the end Popham said she was grateful to have had the chance to visit the area and for all the hospitality shown to her during her trip.

Thank you Cranbrook, Kimberley and Invermere!  


Thank you Cranbrook, Kimberley and Invermere!

From food security to renewable energy - here are some pictures of amazing British Columbians doing the hard work to plan for the future! I was on agriculture tour of the area this week and was really impressed! Click to the right to see the photo album.

One of the highlights of the tour was learning about successful efforts to connect kids to healthy local food. There is a Chef's programme in Invermere bringing good food back into the school system. I was even treated to a lovely lunch with freshly harvested salad greens from the school greenhouse. Here is a recipe of the (delicious!) tofu burritos we had for lunch.

Don't knock it until you've tried it!

Tofu Burritos

Yield 12 Burritos

375 ml. Onions, finely diced
15 mL Canola oil
30 mL Garlic, minced
20 mL Chili powder or Chipotle puree
1 L Red or green peppers, finely diced
10 mL Paprika
30 mL Cumin, ground
10 ml Oregano leaves
500 ml Corn
2 pkg Extra firm tofu
150 mL Tomato Paste
30 mL low-sodium soy sauce
125 Chopped Black Olives
12 Whole wheat tortillas
Pepper to taste


Sauté the onions, garlic, and chili powder or chipotle paste in oil for three minutes.

Add peppers and continue cooking on medium heat until the onions are soft. Add the paprika, ground cumin, oregano leaves, corn and crumbled tofu and continue to sauté.

When the vegetables are tender, stir in the tomato paste, low-sodium soy sauce, olives and pepper to taste.

Place 250 ml of filling into the centre of each tortilla and form into a burrito. Place seam side down onto a parchment-lined hotel pan or baking dish.

Bake at 180 C, covered with foil for 20 minutes, or until heated through.

Recipe modified from the Moosewood Restaurant Cooks for a Crowd.

Weekend Reading!  



Two very interesting reports have recently been released - excellent weekend reading for everyone interested in agriculture, sustainability and food security!


"Every Bite Counts", by the CCPA:

And a draft strategy for a regional food system in Vancouver:

Poultry Health for Small Flock Owners, Free 2 day Course in Duncan, Nov 16-17  


A snapshot of what’s happening this month in the local island agriculture community, courtesy of the Islands Forage Committee.  


A snapshot of what’s happening this month in the local island agriculture community, courtesy of the Islands Forage Committee.

Used to be anybody could farm. All you needed was a strong back. . . but nowadays you need a good
education to understand all the advice you get so you can pick out what’ll do you the least harm.
~ Vermont Saying, Mid-1900s

Foxglove Farm
Centre for Arts, Ecology & Agriculture Salt Spring Island, BC
October 2, 2010
Field to Plate: Fall Roots & Squashes with Chef Heidi Fink
October 24, 2010
Foraging for Fungi

Upcoming Food Safety Planning Workshops on Vancouver Island
(registration fee $20, includes lunch and coffee breaks)
• Thursday, September 30 – Courtenay (Courtenay Community Futures, Suite 200–580 Duncan Avenue, Courtenay)
• Friday, November 5, 2010 – Victoria (Saanich Fairground, 1528 Stelly's Cross Rd, Saanichton)
Jane Kelly
FSSI (Processor) Program Outreach Coordinator
Small Scale Food Processor Association
1-866-619-7372 or direct 250-951-9945
Register on-line at:

Foxglove Community Garden & Culinary School
Cooking in the Barn
October 3rd.
“Art of Canadian Heritage Cuisine”
In this first class of the series, Pat Germschied will take us back to the beginning when Canada was being settled. She will teach the art of preserving  and “putting by” the produce  and fruit from our gardens. Time 1:30 – 3:30 m.   Cost  $35 with lunch
October 17th.
“The Art of Chinese Cuisine”
Li Ping, originally from China will take us on a  culinary journey to China as she creates her countries cuisine in this first series. Time 1:30 – 3:30 pm Cost, $35 with lunch
October 24th,
The Art of Coast Salish Native Cuisine”
Using her Native culture as her guide, Gloria Norris, will teach the art of preparing and smoking a salmon. Time 1:30 – 3:30 pm. Cost $35 with lunch
November 7th.
“Art of Canadian Heritage Cuisine”
In this second series Pat Germschied will teach the art of making soups and stews.
Time 1:30 – 3:30 pm.  Cost $35 with lunch.
All classes are limited to 12 students. Please call Nancy at (250) 246-4967 for information and reserve your space.
Foxglove Community Gardens and Culinary School non-profit Society, 8035 Vye Road, Crofton BC V0R 1R0

Vineyard Workshop
Wine Islands Growers Association
Saturday October 2nd
Topics:      Botrytis Control,  and Determination of Grape Maturity                                
Where:     begins at Rocky Creek Winery
1854 Myhrest Rd, Cowichan Bay
Time:                2 – 4 p.m.

Sunshine Coast Stakeholders Meeting: 
Thursday October 28th
Land managers, stakeholders, interested organizations and landowners are invited to attend a meeting in Sechelt on Thursday October 28th.  The objectives of this meeting are to: increase awareness of invasive plant issues and coordinated management approaches along the Sunshine Coast, share information about invasive plant activities already occurring in region, discuss areas for improvement and identify the level of interest in joining with or forming a regional invasive plant committee. 
Where: Seaside Centre 5790 Teredo Street, Sechelt 
When: 9:30am - 3:30pm on Thursday October 28th (refreshments and lunch to be provided)
RSVP: Melissa Noel, CIPC Coordinator at: or 250-857-2472 by Tuesday October 26th
There is no cost associated with attending the meeting. 

Farm Credit Canada – Upcoming Free Workshops
Farm Financial Management – Profitability and Budgeting in Abbotsford on November 9
Farm Financial Management – Statements and Ratios in Langley on November 10.
Maureen Hari
Customer Service Manager / Directrice, Service à la clientèle
BC Coast & Interior District
Farm Credit Canada / Financement agricole Canada
#301 – 5460 152 Street
5460 152 Street, bureau 301
Surrey, BC  V3S 5J9
Tel/Tél: (604) 575-4268   Cell: (604) 722-6891   Fax/Téléc: (604) 575-4260

Building Sustainable Communities Conference
November 15th-18th, 2010
Delta Grand Resort & Conference Centre, KELOWNA, BC
Hosted & Facilitated by the Fresh Outlook Foundation
EMAIL:  • PHONE: 250-766-1777

The Island Agr-food Initiative is Open for Business
The Islands Agri-Food Initiative (IAFI) was started in 2001, to encourage the development of a viable and sustainable agri-food sector on Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and Powell River. Funding is available to groups, societies and organizations based in the areas served by the initiative for projects that fit at least one of the initiative’s four strategic priorities:
1.      To enhance market and product development and promotion of the agri-food industry.
2.      To increase the agri-food stakeholder knowledge base (including stakeholder communication, economic potential, statistical data, marketing skills and product development).
3.      To facilitate the development of strategic partnerships and alliances that enhances the long-term sustainability of the agri-food industry.
4.       To support increased agri-food processing as a catalyst for rural community development
IAFI funding is provided by IAF through the federal-provincial Agri-Food Futures Fund.
Jamai Schile
Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC
Program Manager
Direct Line: 250.356.0119

Farm Business Advisory Services Program
Are you considering changes to your farm business? Do you have the financial information and plans you need to make the best decisions for you, your family and your farm business?
Up to $5,000 is now available for both new and established farms to answer these questions.  Check the link below for all the program and eligibility details or contact:
Toll Free: 1 877 702-5585 Email: for more information.
BC Assessment Authority Farm Classification
Application Deadline October 31st
Janice Weninger
Farm Appraiser
Vancouver Island Region
300 - 125 Wallace St,
Nanaimo BC V9R 5B2  
Tel 250.753.6621 x 228
Toll-free 1.800.977.2775

Island Ideal Meats
Class A custom meat processing service
Operated by: Vancouver Island Heritage Foodservice Co-operative
located at Valley View Farm, 2322 Gomerich Rd. in Nanaimo
Now Open August 2010 offering slaughter and custom cut-and-wrap services
All enquiries should be directed to:
Grant Henry,
250 6680-8718

Agriculture and Water -  Waterbucket website for information on drought management, irrigation scheduling, drainage and more

Provincially Licensed Meat Plant Establishments

UPDATE Spotted Wing Drosophila (Fruit Fly)
Attention: Berries, grapes and stone fruit producers
Spotted Wing Drosophila been found in all fruit growing areas in BC where traps have been placed including Southern Vancouver Island
Information on sanitation New
Canadian Horticulture’s Council CanadaGAP On-Farm Food Safety program
Annette Moore, recognized trainer
Quality First in Agriculture Inc.
T: (604) 859-5962

BC Good Agricultural and Collection Practices
Keith Hunter, recognized trainer
phone 250 720-8907

Agri-Food Trade Service Funding Opportunities for BC Producers, Processors, and Associations
For a print copy of this publication please contact:
BC Regional Office
Market and Industry Services Branch
Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada
420 – 4321 Still Creek Drive
Burnaby, BC
V5C 6S7
Telephone: 604-666-6344
Fax: 604-666-7235
ISSN 1923-0060
AAFC No. 11160E

Farm Centre Agriwebinar’s

Soil Nematodes with Rosy Smit

Canadian Organic Growers Vancouver Island Chapter (COGVI)
Meets monthly every third Thursday of the month 7 p.m. at Haliburton Farm, 741 Haliburton Road, Victoria.
Please see  for map."

Comox Valley Farmers' Institute
Meets at the Dove Creek Hall, Courtenay the third Tuesday of every month.
Contact:  Gerry 250-334-4562
Cowichan Agricultural Society & Farmers Institute Meeting
Come to our meetings and learn from other growers during the “Farmers Soap Box”
Meets the first Wednesday of every month at 7:00 pm. 5855 Clements St. Duncan, BC
Contact:  David at 250-748-8089
Meetings from June to September will be at member farms hosting tours!

Cowichan Exhibition Society
Meets at 5855 Clements St in Duncan on the fourth Tuesday of each month at 7:00 pm.
Island Farmer’s Alliance

Nanaimo-Cedar Farmers' Institute
Meets at the Cedar United Church Hall (1644 Cedar Rd) on the second Thursday of October - June. 
Contact Joanne at 250-722-3397
Peninsula Agricultural Commission (PAC)

For more information please contact:
Isobel Hoffmann Secretary to PAC
Shawnigan Cobble Hill Farmers Institute
Meetings are the fourth Monday of the month at 7:30 P.M. in the Cobble Hill Hall.

Vancouver Island Goat Association Meetings
Contact:  Marion 250-752-8526 e-mail

Wine Island Growers Association 
A majority of our 2010 Conference Presentations are now available on our website under Events and News
VEGGIE, POULTRY AND SMALL ANIMAL SWAP that has started up at the Lighthouse Community Center on Lions Way in Qualicum Bay. There is an indoor swap meet and Pancake Breakfast from 9am - 1pm and an outdoor farmers market (including live poultry) that runs from 10am till 1pm. The contact person is Sheena McCorquodale 250-757-9991

Farm Animal and Poultry Swaps
Courtenay - South Country Feeds - 2rd Sunday each month 11am - 1pm
Courtenay - SharKare Feeds - 3rd Sunday each month 11am - 1pm
Duncan, (Cowichan Feather Fanciers) at Buckerfields - 4th Sunday each month 11 am til 12:30 pm starting Feb 28 til Oct
Coombs, Farm Animal & Poultry Swap, Coombs Fairgrounds - 1st Sunday of the month 11 am - 1 pm starting March 1 until November. Contact 250-752-1703  "Subscribe to free eNewsletter"

BC HST Information
Canada Revenue Agency – Technical Questions: 1 800 959-5525
B.C. Ministry of Finance: 1 877 388-4440
BC Crop Production Guides
 Home and Garden Pest Management Guide for B.C. is now available!
Ordering information available at the following link
Courses being offered through Vancouver Island University Continuing Ed.
Call today to register! 250-746-3519
G.R. Paine Horticulture Training Centre

Courses being offered through North Island College Continuing Ed.
Campbell River 250-923-9750
Comox Valley 250-334-5005
Port Alberni 250-724-8705

Courses being offered through Camosun College Continuing Ed.

BC Farmers Market Association “Find A Market”
Farm and Ranch Safety Association (FARSHA)
Provides ongoing safety courses, safety materials and helpful advice to the farm and ranching community of BC

Agriculture Labour Pool (based in Abbotsford but does the Islands as well)

Western Agriculture Labour Initiative

Federal - Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) 2008

Federal - Youth Employment Strategy

Bee Information
Apiculture Inspector Vancouver Island
Brenda Jager
Canada - British Columbia Environmental Farm Plan Program

Multispecies Grazing Articles

Farm Vehicles on the Move
A guide to licensing and insuring farm vehicles in British Columbia

Farm Structures and Fencing Information can be found at:
To apply for Farm Status you would contact BC Assessment in Nanaimo or Courtenay.

Leasing options for farmers and rural land owners

Dam Safety in BC

Food Safety Systems
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada - Programs and Services

Investment Agriculture Foundation

Ranchers look for government help after fires  


By Erin Hitchcock - Williams Lake Tribune

Published: September 21, 2010 8:00 AM

Ranchers hope the B.C. government will help assist them with forage and fence rehabilitation in the aftermath of the forest fires in the Cariboo Chilcotin.

Ranchers met with Cariboo North MLA Bob Simpson and MLA Lana Popham, the Opposition critic for the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, last week to discuss the help they need.

Duncan Barnett, president of the Cariboo Cattlemen’s Association, says one of the biggest issues is forage and fence rehabilitation.

“Without those fences, ranchers have no ability to manage their livestock,” Duncan says, adding that not only does a loss of fencing cause herds to mix with each other, but it also causes forage issues. “You can’t manage the livestock so they use the forage properly.”

He says ranchers want the provincial government to help get the fences rebuilt, otherwise ranching businesses will be put at risk.

“They’ve lost a lot of their fall forage this year,” he says, adding that unless fences are replaced for next year, ranchers will face major problems.

He says there is emergency response funding in place, but it’s not yet known if the funding can be used to help the ranchers replace the lost fences.

“We basically have businesses that have lost the infrastructure that they need to operate, and if we can’t get it replaced, then obviously those businesses are in serious trouble.”

He says the government needs to either provide some funding to rebuild the range infrastructure that’s been lost or emergency/disaster relief funding needs to be used.

Ranchers are also dealing with lost forage that was burnt up in the forest fires. Not only does the grass need to be re-seeded so there is forage supply, but also so invasive weeds don’t move in.

Ranchers also have a number of suggestions for the future, he says, including using local people who can provide equipment and their knowledge of the area and dealing with fires when they start. Barnett says ranchers and the ministries of forest and environment also need to work together to ensure ecologically sound seeds that also suit the natural environment are planted.

Cariboo Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett attended a meeting two weeks ago in Alexis Creek, where she met with ranchers to hear their concerns about the devastation caused from the fires.

“We are working on the analysis on what has happened to the fencing, the cattle, to the grasslands, all of those types of things,” she says. “We are working with the communities on a mitigation plan.”

She says she also went on a two- to three-hour tour to see the devastation for herself, and has also met with individuals throughout the Cariboo Chilcotin to discuss the forest fires and other issues.

Simpson and Popham, who had also met with the Ministry of Forests and Range in Williams Lake, said they will discuss the issues with the Minister of Agriculture.

“We heard (from ranchers) that the Minister of Agriculture needs to champion this,” Popham said. “We can make a push for that.”

Simpson said the loss of forage could be the last straw for ranchers already suffering challenges to the industry.

Alexis Creek resident and rancher Bev Madley is the president of the Chilcotin Stockmen’s Association, an organization that falls under the Cariboo Cattlemen’s Association.

“Out here, there were seven members of our association that were affected by the wildfires,” Madley says. “In the run of all of these fires, we lost a lot of fence.”

She says the government has agreed to reseed and rehabilitate the CAT guards that were built on the ranges in the Bull Complex area.

She says the ranchers also want the fences replaced, soon.

“These are boundaries between people with different breeding programs,” she says, adding the fences also provide barriers between pastures that are rotated to keep the range in good condition.

She notes the firefighters did a good job, but says the management of the fires could have been done differently.

“Those fires were allowed to run, and they didn’t get anybody on them to put them out until they became quite large and quite dangerous and somewhat unmanageable,” she says.

If and when money is provided to replace the fences, she says ranches would like them built on large right-of-ways so there is exposed soil that would serve as fire breaks.

A meeting between the ranchers and government field officials was to be held at Madley’s home last night, after press deadlines.

Report by Auditor General shows BC Government not protecting ALR  


A new report from the Auditor General shows how the B.C. government is undermining the Agricultural Land Reserve and leaving B.C.’s valuable farmland at risk of being lost forever.

As we face an increasing population and the impact of climate change, it is more important than ever to promote local food production and develop the green jobs that our agricultural sector has to offer.

But instead of listening to British Columbians who are saying they want to see more local food in their grocery stores, this report shows the B.C. Liberals have been undermining the Agricultural Land Reserve.

Graph from Report
The report notes despite the fact that 95 per cent of British Columbians support the ALR, the amount of agricultural land in the ALR on the south coast has declined by eight per cent and the amount of agricultural land in the ALR on Vancouver Island has declined by 13 per cent since the reserve was created by the then-New Democrat government in 1973.

Less than five per cent of British Columbia’s land base is suitable for agriculture, which is why we must protect the farmland we have, especially in the face of an increasing population and a changing climate,” said Popham. “British Columbians want access to fresh food from local farmers. It’s time for the B.C. Liberal government to listen up and stop undermining the ALR.

The Auditor General’s report also notes that the B.C. Liberals have cut the budget for the Agricultural Land Commission by more than 28 percent since 2002.

The commission doesn’t have the resources it needs to ensure it fulfills its mandate of preserving productive farmland, let alone the staff to dedicate to enforcement and evaluation of the hundreds of applications that come to the commission every year.

If protecting our agricultural resources was important to the B.C. Liberals, they’d start by ensuring the commission had the resources it needs to protect the ALR.

Check out these media links for more information:

Let's Swarm the Legislature!  


The bees need your help!

Last year more than 90% of the honey-bees on the island died!

And what is worse, the provincial government's response has been to weaken the protections for our precious island bees.

Bee-keepers from across Vancouver Island ask you to join them for a rally:

Wednesday September 22nd at noon at the BC Legislature.

We are calling on the government to consult with island bee-keepers and strengthen the regulations.

This is about more than honey. Bees are critical pollinators, and without pollinators more than a third of our food plants will die.

We are asking everyone who supports local farming and food security to join us.

Visit for more info.

Comments at ALC Meeting, Aug 30 2010  


Comments at public ALC hearing regarding Hudson's Bay Farm, August 30, 2010.

Hi, my name is Lana Popham, I’m the Agriculture Critic and the MLA for Saanich South.

Before I was elected, I worked on my farm for over a decade…while at the same time fighting for food security and sustainable food production.

I left a job that I loved and that inspired me every day to enter provincial politics and to take on the role as Agriculture Critic. A job that disappoints me every day…because I don’t understand why we have to fight for farming in British Columbia.

Building capacity for vehicles at all costs will never stop unless we stop doing it. Our quality of life will continue to decrease as we increase the capacity for vehicles. To remove productive agricultural land to make room for cars is unacceptable.

The ALR was put in place to protect our food growing capacity. Without it we would see little to no farming in this area [Langley] and we wouldn’t be here tonight fighting for the Hudson’s Bay Farm. Because it wouldn’t exist.

Why was this land so important back when the ALR was created but not now? It’s because the creators of the ALR - like Harold Steves - looked at our future with unselfish eyes. Agriculture has seen the lowest level ever in BC history in the past provincial budget. And that includes the budget for the ALC.

Agriculture and food production are the lowest priority for the BC government and vehicles and carbon-emitting modes of transportation are one of the highest. With this equation, It’s hard to see when these types of proposals will stop.

At a time when we know climate change will affect our ability to source food, we don’t have a made-in-BC food security plan. We seem to be setting ourselves up to be absolutely dependent on imported goods. Why? We have so much potential. The BC food self-sufficiency study that the government produced – showing that we need to increase our food producing capacity – was shelved. We have a BC Agriculture Plan, but we can’t use it because the Ministry is under-funded.

Without a plan, will we end up developing every last acre of farmland? Decisions like the one that is before us tonight, the decision to split up this valuable farm, has far-reaching implications that must be seriously considered. We have a responsibility to our future generations to ensure that we have food security in this region and Hudson’s Bay Farm is part of the solution.

We need to look at these problems with the same eyes that the creator of the ALR used. I want the ALC to fulfill its mandate to preserve farmland and not to take away our ability to feed ourselves.

My final point is a question: what is the end-game? What is the final outcome that we expect from chopping up farmland to make room for vehicles?

It is about our future survival or is it about a short-sighted plan that is unsustainable and irreversible.

Link to Langley Times news article on the ALC meeting.

Bees! Can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em,  


Hundreds of people up and down Vancouver Island are speaking out about... bees!

As you know, bees are pollinators and without pollinators a third of our food plants can’t reproduce naturally.

There is a crisis right now on Vancouver Island: last year, 90% of the honey-bees on the island died. We aren't sure why, but the provincial government is making the situation worse by a recent change which allows people to import hives from the mainland. There had been a 22-year old quarantine in effect which protected us from the even worse situation (diseases and pests) facing bee-keepers off the island. But that has been lifted in error and we now need your help before the situation gets any worse.

Almost every single bee-keeper on the island agrees that the Agriculture Minister's actions are worsening the situation for honey-bees on the island. You can read many of their comments by clicking here.

Please help by taking a few minutes to write a letter to your Mayor and Council. This is, in part, an island issue, and so we need our municipal leaders to take action.

Thank you,


Quick Letter Writing Tips and Info
1. Find the mailing address for your Mayor. Click here for an up-to-date list of Mayors on Vancouver Island.(Note: the Mayor from Metchosin has already written an excellent letter.)
2. Address your letter to ‘Mayor and Council’.
3. Include a little personal information so they understand why this is important to you.
4. A very modest improvement would include a Motion asking the B.C. government to immediately halt the importation of used bee-keeping equipment and/or honeycomb.

If you want to be fancy, you can even take the time to c.c. the BC Minister of Agriculture, Steve Thomson. PO BOX 9120 STN PROV GOVT, Victoria, BC, V8W 9E2

Believe me, every single letter has big impact.


The $1.8B agri engine  


By Grant Granger - Abbotsford News
Published: June 18, 2010 4:00 PM 
Updated: June 21, 2010 11:10 AM

David Hull couldn’t quite believe the numbers the computer spreadsheet was producing as he and Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce staff were punching in results from their survey on the economic impact of agriculture to Abbotsford.

“Hang on, hang on,” said the astonished executive director.

The survey, conducted jointly with the city and the provincial Ministry of Agriculture, said the industry generates $1.8 billion in economic activity annually in Abbotsford.

“It was a lot larger than we thought,” said Hull. “That’s a massive number in our town.”

And there were more impressive numbers:

The $1.8 billion is about 35 per cent of the city’s gross domestic product.

Primary agriculture produces in total revenues $20,400 per hectare, the highest in Canada, and three times more than that of the next most productive region, the Niagara Peninsula in Ontario.

Agriculture generates more than 11,300 jobs in Abbotsford, which is about 25 per cent of local private-sector jobs.

The average hourly wage per farm employee is $16.75, while the average annual salary in the agri-business is nearly $50,000.

There are more than 1,200 farms in Abbotsford
Hull said the city is the de facto hub of agriculture in the province. It’s more than just getting milk, picking berries and raising chickens because there are so many industries, industry organizations and government offices connected to agriculture that are based in Abbotsford.

The city is currently working on producing an agriculture strategy to help the industry grow even further.
“It does represent the very essence of what we do,” Jay Teichrob, the city’s economic development manager, told a chamber agriculture symposium Wednesday. “It drives the work in our city on a daily basis. It’s in our DNA.”

It’s why, Teichrob said, there’s a concentration on densifying the city core at the same time as protecting the 74 per cent of the land that’s inside the Agriculture Land Reserve.

“We want to be a sustainable community. We don’t want to be a bedroom community to anyone else,” said Teichrob.

Our Bees Deserve Better!  


Today in the Legislature I made a two minute statement about the `Day of the Honeybee`.

As you know, the government recently ended a twenty-two year old quarantine on importing bees from the mainland, and did so without consulting local bee-keeping communities and associations.

During Question Period, I raised the issue directly with the Minister responsible, asking him to pull back from this short-sighted decision and provide the protections our island honey bees desperately need.

More information is available on my website,

You can watch both videos below, transcripts follow.

"Day of the Honey Bee" - Two-Minute Statement in the Legislature

Honey Bees in Question Period, May 27, 2010


L. Popham: May 29 has been proclaimed the Day of the Honeybee in British Columbia. Honeybees are a big part of our pollinator population and play a critical role in the production of many B.C. crops. In fact, much of B.C.'s agricultural production is dependent on honeybee pollination. Without them, our food systems will fail.

Our proclamation was signed recently, and within our proclamation, the virtues of B.C. bees as well as the threats they face were brought to light:

"Whereas the honeybee has, through its role as pollinator, been an important part of agricultural efforts since ancient times; and whereas the honeybee plays an essential role in the success of agricultural enterprises in British Columbia; and whereas the honeybee has been under serious threat due to disease and environmental conditions that ultimately threaten the future of agriculture in our province; and whereas the government of British Columbia has worked with the agriculture industry to improve production and the honeybee has been under serious threat due to disease and environmental conditions that ultimately threaten the future of agriculture in our province. Whereas the government of British Columbia has worked with the agriculture industry to improve production and stabilize the industry. Whereas it is in the interest of furthering that goal to raise awareness of the role of the honeybee and the plight it faces."

In early May, a 22-year-old policy restricting the importation of bees to Vancouver Island was lifted. This significant decision is of grave concern to the Vancouver Island bee-keeping sector. Bee keepers are especially concerned because last winter on Vancouver Island almost 90 percent of honeybees died, largely because of the varroa mite which was introduced to island hives when an individual contravened our island quarantine.

I am wondering, given recent decisions, if the day of the honeybee will become a day of memorial for honeybees on Vancouver Island in our near future.

L. Popham: Beekeepers on Vancouver Island are reeling from a recent decision to change the policy around the import of bees to Vancouver Island from the mainland — a policy that has been in place for 22 years. This was done without consultation, and the results may be devastating to our bee industry. The test results, which were the basis for the government to lift the quarantine, are not being made public.

Will the Minister of Agriculture commit today to listen to all island beekeepers and ensure that there will be no honeycomb and no used equipment brought onto the Island from the Lower Mainland?

Hon. S. Thomson: The member opposite is aware that we've equalized the restriction for imported bees onto Vancouver Island with federal standards. Vancouver Island beekeepers were able to import bees from Australia and from Chile before. We've equalized those standards with federal standards so that they can import bees from the Lower Mainland, providing those opportunities for the Vancouver Island bee producers.

I'm fully aware of the concerns of Vancouver Island. The member opposite knows that I've met with the presidents of the associations. For bees to come onto Vancouver Island, they require inspection, and they require a permit. We've committed to continue to work with the associations to make sure the inspection protocols are in place so that we can protect the health of the Vancouver Island bee population.

Mr. Speaker: The member has a supplemental.

L. Popham: I understand that the minister has met with the local Island bee clubs, and so have I. It's not the bees that are a problem and that they're worried about. They're worried about the honeycomb and the used equipment. The minister has been claiming that there is science to back up the decision that was made. If he believes this is true, then there should be nothing to hide. Will he commit today to release the provincial test results to the Island beekeepers?

Hon. S. Thomson: I have met with the presidents of the associations, and I've committed to continue to meet with them. As I said, it requires inspection. It requires permit for bees to come on to Vancouver Island. We're going to continue to work with the associations around the inspection protocols to make sure that we protect the health of the Vancouver Island bee population.

Coming from the agriculture industry, I understand the importance of the bee industry to both the agriculture industry and to value-added production for small-scale farms on Vancouver Island and in British Columbia. We'll continue to work with the association to make sure that those inspection protocols and those permits are in place to protect the health of the Vancouver Island bee population.

Anger, relief at new B.C. meat-slaughter regulations  


Producers in three remote regions can conduct 'farm-gate' sales to consumers

By Glenda Luymes, The Province May 6, 2010 7:31 AM

The provincial government is making it easier for farmers in remote communities to sell meat at the farm gate, while those in the Fraser Valley must continue to find innovative ways to sell direct to consumers.

Recent changes to B.C.'s meat-inspection regulations now allow farmers in three remote regions — Bella Coola, Haida Gwaii and the Powell River Regional District — to obtain a licence to kill a limited number of livestock on site and then sell them to consumers in their region.

Elsewhere in the province, animals must be sent to a government-inspected slaughterhouse.

The new rules have met with both relief and criticism in an industry still struggling to deal with changes brought on by the mad-cow crisis.

"It's a ridiculous piece of nonsense," mobile-abattoir owner Lars Jongerdon said Tuesday.

The former executive chef left Vancouver to homestead near Fort St. John several years ago. When the mad-cow crisis led the province to require all meat for human consumption to go through a licensed slaughterhouse, he responded with B.C.'s first mobile abattoir.

The $400,000 machine is designed to travel to remote regions, giving farmers a butchering option that doesn't involve driving hours to the nearest facility. An on-site inspector ensures food safety.

"We've spent the money to build this, to respond to what the government said farmers needed, and now we're going to be left with egg on our faces," said Jongerdon. "You can't have one set of rules for one person and another set of rules for another."

Farmers in northern B.C. also continue to feel the effects of the changing regulations. Some have formed co-operatives, sinking hundreds of thousands of dollars into abattoirs and meat-processing plants that only operate a few times a year and continue to accumulate debt. A clause in the new regulations says farmers within 100 kilometres of a licensed slaughterhouse or mobile abattoir can't receive a licence to do their own butchering.

NDP agriculture critic Lana Popham said the government's "mishandling" of the regulations has led to turmoil in the industry, pitting producers against processors.

"The regulations have failed in all aspects," she said Wednesday. "The government says this ensures food safety, but we don't see people getting sick from farm-gate sales."

Popham urged the government to take advantage of a consumer demand for local products.

"That's what's going to make or break agriculture in this province and we should be embracing it."

Ida Chong, Minister of Healthy Living and Sport, said the licences will protect food safety while adding stability for licensed facilities, with ticketing by local health authorities to ensure farmers' compliance.

"The province is recognizing the importance of existing provincially licensed facilities and the investment they have made to comply with the regulation," she said in a statement.

Queen Charlotte Islands veterinarian and rancher Don Richardson called the new regulations "a breath of fresh air." Since the government began requiring animals to be killed at licensed facilities, he's had to make a 20-hour trip, including a ferry crossing, to bring his cows to the nearest slaughterhouse.

"It's a ridiculous amount of cost and time," he said.

In the Fraser Valley, farmers don't have to make a long trip to have their animals killed.

Chilliwack organic farmer Mary Forstbauer sells her meat at farmers' markets after it's returned from a nearby slaughterhouse. While she supports the new regulations for farmers in remote regions, she's content to bring her animals to a government-inspected facility.

"It's close by, so it's not a real hardship," she said.

"I don't know that we should relax the rules all over. Some of the people we meet at the farmers' markets want to know that their meat has gone through a facility."

Private Member's Motion in the Legislature: We need a food security plan for BC!  


We need a made-in-B.C. food security plan right now.

Private Member's Motion, April 19, 2010.

If the video isn't available above, click here.

Private Members' Motions
L. Popham: I move: 

Be it resolved that this House debate and discuss a made in BC food security and production plan.

What is a food security plan? A food security plan refers to the availability of food, one's access to it and a comprehensive plan to make sure these things are addressed. The necessity of having such a plan is becoming more crucial year by year, as we understand the effects of climate change on agricultural capacity around the world. 

In B.C. we have been neglecting our food security plan because we have had easy access to imported food. As a result, up to this point we have almost abandoned our potential for self-sufficiency. We are becoming more and more reliant on imports. 

The places we are importing from are regions that will be first affected by the devastating impacts of climate change. In fact, we see this happening already. We see California facing water shortages, the salinity issue. We see Florida wrestling with temperature fluctuations that destroy their crops. In other areas of the world we are seeing extreme weather as well. 

B.C. is not immune to climate change effects, but we have resilience, given our diverse topographies. This doesn't mean, however, that we have the luxury of sitting back and doing nothing. We should be taking the time to develop a made-in-B.C. food security and production plan. 

The government released a study in 2006 called B.C.'s Food Self-Reliance. The goal of this study was to get a perspective on total food production and food self-reliance using farm-gate production values. There was an interesting disclaimer at the beginning of this report which states that this "report is an information piece and does not necessarily represent current or future policy direction." 

It continues to establish that "the statistical data in the report is factual and will be used to develop benchmarks for further research and study." This disclaimer is relevant to my motion, because there is information in this report that leads me to question why the B.C. government is not fully committed to making sure B.C. has a food security plan in place. 

Sustainable B.C. is a vision of our province. As B.C. politicians, we need to be dedicated to building a sustainable society that nurtures us, and food security is a large part of that vision. Healthful food for consumers and increased local and provincial food self-sufficiency are essential for a sustainable society. This requires a protected agricultural land base, environmentally sustainable farm practices and economic viability for B.C. food producers. 

To produce a healthy diet for the projected B.C. population in 2025, B.C. farmers will need to have 2.78 million hectares in production, of which 281,000 will need access to irrigation. This means that to produce a healthy diet for B.C. in 2025, given existing production technology, the farmland with access to irrigation will have to increase by 92,000 hectares, or 49 percent over the 2005 levels. That's one of the undisputed facts from the report that this government released. 

Where should we look for leadership, and what ministry should we work with in order to make a food security plan a reality here in B.C.? We could look at our communities, we could look at our grass-roots organizations, and we could look at our consumers for leadership. They are demanding more priority be put on local food production. 

It seems we cannot look at the current government. This government fails to make food production a priority, even though they commissioned a study to prove it was critical for British Columbia. The budget for agriculture in B.C. has dropped year after year, and it's at a level now that I believe makes the Ministry of Agriculture ineffective. When we look at a massive decision in our province that we are facing right now — all decisions — we need to continually visit our food security situation as a province. A decision to take away most fertile land at a time when the facts tell us we need to add to our land base works against the idea of food security. 

When will food security be a priority? Sadly, food security around the world becomes important when food supplies are not secure and access to food is threatened. The B.C. government has an opportunity to plan for our future, and this should be a future where food security is not in doubt. We need a made-in-B.C. food security plan right now.