Liberals Abandon Farmers  


NDP: Liberals abandon farmers
Thu, 2010-03-04 10:58.
Local News
The provincial NDP says this week's provincial budget is proof that the government has turned it's back on farmers.

Agriculture Critic Lana Popham says even though orchardists and ranchers have sounded the alarm, the budget promises no new investment in farming.

Popham says with the budget for agriculture cut 25% last year and 4% this year, BC invests less in the industry than any other province.

Critic Response to the Budget - Hansard Official Report  


I would like to address agriculture in our province. I am astounded by this government's lack of support for agriculture in a time when we need food security in B.C. This is not fluff and glitter. This is critical to our survival.

We have had the Premier's pal Arnold Schwarzenegger telling us that the world, as far as agriculture goes in California, is in really big trouble. Their groundwater is mixing with salt water, making it poisonous to irrigate the crops. No crops, no food and no exports into B.C.

The lack of support for agriculture is irresponsible. Not only is it abandoning our potentially strong economic driver in our province, it is also setting us up for

failure when we must turn to our province for sustenance. With another 4 percent cut to agriculture in this budget, it's obvious that this government has no plan for our future. They are setting us up to starve.

For the past decade this government has been chipping away at the agricultural land reserve. We see 14 percent cuts to the Agricultural Land Commission coming down the pipe over the next two years. Acre by acre, we've seen one of the most successful land use planning initiatives in the history of our province become relegated to the status of a dwindling bank account to be drawn upon at a whim yet never replenished. At the same time, they have pulled support for farmers — two more strikes against this government.

This government has failed to support agriculture time and time again. I'm not alone in my thinking. Just ask the fruit growers in this province or the cattle ranchers. Time and time again they have warned us about their demise, and the government's response is to cut the budget.

No better example demonstrates this government's agricultural malaise than the halting of the Buy B.C. program in 2001. Shortly before its demise there were over 1,200 companies and associations using the Buy B.C. logo in their advertising and promotional materials — over 5,000 Buy B.C. products identified at major grocery retailers throughout the province. Buy B.C. supported a critical industry that directly served the economic and physical health and well-being of our province.

The Minister of Agriculture has confirmed his belief that this government ought to bring back Buy B.C. Yet there was not one single mention of this program in the budget speech. In fact, it might as well be called the goodbye B.C. program.