November 29 - Making Food Matter! An Important Event for South Island Foodies  

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Making Food Matter! : Taking the Next Bite

A Local Food Gala @ the Atrium

1321 Blanshard Street

On Tuesday November 29th from 7pm to 9pm the Vancouver Island Community Research Alliance (VICRA) will showcase the findings of the Vancouver Island Local Food Project Report entitled:

“Strategies for Increasing Food Security on Vancouver Island”

Two years of research and collaboration has resulted in a plan for action focused on four themes: Climate Change, Indigenous Food Systems, Urban Agriculture and Institutional Food Purchasing. The project included all 5 Vancouver Island campuses, 20 researchers, 58 students, 18 food and community groups.

This event is also a fundraiser for the Lifecycles Project Society, a local non-profit society that works to cultivate awareness and initiate action through innovative projects around food, health and urban sustainability.

The evening will be hosted by Carolyn Herriot, a broadcaster, organic gardener and the bestselling author of The Zero Mile Diet: A Year-Round Guide to Growing Organic Food.

Keynote Speaker is Corky Evans, a former municipal councillor, MLA and Minister of Agriculture, who has dedicated large parts of his life to trying to make farming pay, both in the public sphere as public policy, and, as a farmer himself.

Short presentations by our Guest Speakers include:

Linda Geggie (VICRA LFP Coordinator) Highlights of VICRA LFP findings

Peter Keller (Dean of Social Science UVIC) The power of collaborative research

Ken Babich (Director of Purchasing Services UVic) The power of institutional food purchasing

Come for a great evening of inspiration, tasting, sharing, and early holiday shopping!

  • Sign the Local Food Pledge and commit to the local food movement
  • Hear how Vancouver Island institutions can dramatically reshape the food chain
  • Watch star chef Cosmo Meens prepare apples from the simple to the sublime
  • Bid at the silent auction (including an original painting of three butternut squash by local artist Phyllis Serota)
  • Buy at the kitchen shop, Cook Culture – percentage of the evening’s sales will go to Lifecycles
  • Taste a stellar line-up of the world’s finest artisan fair trade chocolate bars with chocolate guru, David Mincey
  • Check out displays of local collaborations and groups making a real difference to food security
  • A great networking & learning opportunity

The use of the stunning Atrium Building is by generous donation of the Jawl Foundation

Admission by Donation ($20. suggested) / Cash Bar & Local Food Tastings

Please RSVP (to anticipate numbers): email ocbrreg@uvic.ca or phone 250-744-9304

See the Local Food Project report at: http://mapping.uvic.ca/vicra/local_food

For more information contact:

Penny Murray email ocbrreg@uvic.ca Cell 250-744-9304

After a year of waiting....  

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After a year of waiting for the Minister of Agriculture to release a report written by the Chair of the Agricultural Land Commission, we finally got to see the ALC Review.

The review was released coincident with an introduction of legislation to make amendments to the Agricultural Land Commission Act. This legislation, Bill 19 - 2011 Miscellaneous Statutes Amendment Act had its second reading yesterday.

I was grateful to have the opportunity to rise in the Legislative Assembly to speak to this Bill - I pointed out the positive, yet small, steps that it represents. I also pointed out some truly glaring challenges - the Government side of the house sure didn't like it.

Watch for yourself.



As always, you can read the Hansard for all debate, questions and statements that are on the record. The record of my comments on Bill 19 - 2011 can be found at this link.

Agriculture deserves more support  

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My BC agricultural tour with Opposition Leader Adrian Dix continues. See the CTV news coverage by following the link below.



Also, the Comox Valley Record released the following article.

A8dix4x4.jpg


If there is a transportation or food supply crisis - One day of food on Vancouver Island is NOT food security.

Lana

To the BC Liberals: Release the ALR report & Protect ALR land now!  

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Yesterday in the BC Legislature, I asked a key question to the Minister of Agriculture....





L. Popham: Yesterday I raised the issue about the Agricultural Land Commission report that the minister has had on his desk for almost a year. This week I stood on a farm that has had over 10,000 loads of construction fill dumped on it. This farm is now unfarmable. While the Minister of Agriculture spends his time shuffling his papers on his desk, farm after farm in British Columbia is being covered in construction fill.


Will the minister commit today to putting a hold on fill dumping in the agricultural land reserve until the ALC report has been released and a provincial fill dumping strategy is in place?

L. Popham: I can tell you it's very disappointing for me to watch the Minister of Agriculture joke his way through question period. I am the critic for Agriculture, and I take this issue very seriously.
This minister has kept the ALC report hidden for almost a year. We know — we both know, Mr. Speaker — that the ALC is underfunded. We know that. The enforcement agency is doing the best it can, but it doesn't have the money to do the job. We know that. The public would know that if he released the report. From what I have heard from stakeholders, I estimate that over the years this report has been hidden, as many as one million dump truck loads of fill have been deposited on to British Columbia farms.
This minister needs to get to work. While he's sitting on his hands, farmlands are turning into wastelands. Will the minister commit today to a moratorium on fill dumping on ALR land until that report is released and a provincial fill dumping strategy is in place?


Question Period - October 19 & 20, 2011  

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Dear Agricultural Community,


Today, during Question Period, I put two (2) questions to the Minister of Agriculture.

Below, I have posted the text of each question. You can go to the Hansard website to view a video clip, if you wish to witness the full exchange, recorded by Hansard Services.

1. L. Popham: Yesterday I raised the issue about the Agricultural Land Commission report that the minister has had on his desk for almost a year. This week I stood on a farm that has had over 10,000 loads of construction fill dumped on it. This farm is now unfarmable. While the Minister of Agriculture spends his time shuffling his papers on his desk, farm after farm in British Columbia is being covered in construction fill. Will the minister commit today to putting a hold on fill dumping in the agricultural land reserve until the ALC report has been released and a provincial fill dumping strategy is in place?

2. L. Popham: I can tell you it's very disappointing for me to watch the Minister of Agriculture joke his way through question period. I am the critic for Agriculture, and I take this issue very seriously. This minister has kept the ALC report hidden for almost a year. We know — we both know, Mr. Speaker — that the ALC is underfunded. We know that. The enforcement agency is doing the best it can, but it doesn't have the money to do the job. We know that. The public would know that if he released the report. From what I have heard from stakeholders, I estimate that over the years this report has been hidden, as many as one million dump truck loads of fill have been deposited on to British Columbia farms. This minister needs to get to work. While he's sitting on his hands, farmlands are turning into wastelands. Will the minister commit today to a moratorium on fill dumping on ALR land until that report is released and a provincial fill dumping strategy is in place?




Critic makes case for farm support  

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By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star
Published: October 16, 2011 1:00 AM

Agriculture was vital to the early development of the Okanagan, but some politicians believe bureaucracy is placing the industry’s future at risk.

Lana Popham, the NDP’s agriculture critic, says farmers are struggling largely because Liberal government policies have made it difficult to operate.

“There are lots of promises of supporting agriculture but there was no mention of it in the throne speech or the jobs plan,” said the Saanich MLA during a stop in Vernon Wednesday.

“Agriculture has been cut as far as the ministry goes. We’re at a critical stage and it can’t be cut more.”
Popham says programs for farmers are not a case of taxpayers subsidizing private business and points out that farmers are tied to their property because of the provincial Agricultural Land Reserve.

“They don’t want handouts. They want policies that support the industry,” she said.
“We’re the least supportive of any province in Canada in terms of agriculture.”

The NDP is pushing for the government to reinstate the Buy B.C. program which urges the public to buy food items grown or processed in B.C.

“That was really helpful and people have been calling for it to come back since it was cut in 2001,” said Popham.

Popham also wants regulations that prevent farm-gate meat processing sales to be eased. “There is less meat being produced because of Liberal policy,” she said.

The NDP also wants government agencies, such as school boards and health authorities, to buy B.C. food items and launch direct support programs for farmers.

“There are market opportunities and incredible land to cultivate,” said Adrian Dix, NDP leader.
Dix says the other issue the government must address is the high cost of land which prevents young people from entering the sector.

“We don’t want the ALR to be a museum,” he said. “We want active farmers, young farmers. There’s a generational issue in farming.”

Eric Foster, Vernon-Monashee MLA, insists the Liberal government considers agriculture important economically and socially.

“Last month, the rural members of the caucus met with the agriculture minister four or five times on issues. The tree fruit industry is a big issue,” he said.

Foster says it is time for the NDP to be constructive and reduce the rhetoric.

“It’s easy to be in opposition. What kind of agricultural plan have they come up with except to criticize?” he said.
 
http://www.bclocalnews.com/okanagan_similkameen/vernonmorningstar/community/131928553.html

BC Farmers take another slap in the face  

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Once again the BC Liberals are demonstrating their disregard of BC agriculture.

Just look at the facts. In the last two years, three different Ministers have been shuffled in and out of the portfolio and the budget gets cut every year. There have been five Auditor General recommendations with “no action taken”. And the icing on the cake: the throne speech this week did not even mention agriculture once!

With more than 20,000 farms and over 1100 food processing businesses, the agriculture and agrifood sector provides direct employment for over 54,000 people and generates over $2.3 billion in farm cash receipts.

Agriculture contributes greatly to the provincial economy and provides solid local jobs, yet it was completely passed over in the throne speech. And just a day after the throne speech, the Auditor General issued a follow-up report that shows the Liberals have failed to make any progress addressing significant problems with the Agricultural Land Commission.

The reason why progress has stalled on addressing issues with the Agricultural Land Commission is because the government has been keeping a solutions-based report from their Agricultural Land Commissioner under wraps for more than a year. The public has a right to see the document but the Liberals have refused to release it and dismissed my FOI request for the document earlier this year.

The provincial cattle herd continues to shrink, apple growers are struggling because they get just pennies a pound for their product, young farmers can’t afford access to land even as older farmers retire, many processing facilities have disappeared, and the Liberals made a mess of meat regulations. This government has had a decade to work with farmers to strengthen our agriculture industry and has failed in every way possible.

All too often B.C. families go to the grocery store and see nothing but apples from Washington and beef from Alberta, when we produce a fantastic product right here in our province. Yet, instead of working with farmers to highlight their products and help get them on grocery store shelves, the Liberals cancelled the all-inclusive Buy B.C. program, made life harder for B.C. farmers, and took choices away from B.C. families.

Agriculture is an important contributor to the B.C. economy, yet we see the Liberals cutting extension services and successful marketing initiatives like Buy B.C. which helped create jobs, and made it easier for B.C. families to purchase healthy local food. Unfortunately, the Liberals seem more interested in hiding their failures from the public than in taking real action to develop this industry.

New Democrat leader Adrian Dix and I have been traveling the province, talking to farmers about how we can work together to strengthen agriculture through initiatives like sourcing local food for our public institutions. We will continue to listen to farmers and push for investments in this green, sustainable industry.

I will continue to call on the government to work with the agriculture industry to market local food and create more opportunities for B.C. food to supply the B.C. market. And I won't rest until the BC government takes on its responsibility to strengthen agriculture and improve food security.

Lana Popham

Public Input ends Sept 30 - National Food Strategy  

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The Federal Agriculture Department is setting the direction for the next Federal/Provincial/Territorial agricultural policy framework.


If you are interested in having your voice heard, please participate in this web-based discussion by following these links.

For an overview of the 3 phases of this policy development:

Discussion Document: Charting the Way Forward to 2020

On-line Feedback Form - until September 30, 2011

Thanks all.
Lana

One Month Left to Comment  

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Many of you will have already seen this as it has been bouncing around the agriculture online community; but better safe than sorry, I say.

The Ministry of Agriculture is developing a draft Minister’s bylaw standard for residential uses in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR). It is intended to provide criteria to local governments across the Province as they develop their own bylaws.

The link below will take you to a Discussion Paper containing the bylaw standard for residential uses in the ALR, proposed by the Ministry of Agriculture. The associated survey asks questions specific to the Discussion Paper.

The comment period on the Discussion Paper closes at midnight, Pacific Time, July 14, 2011.

I strongly encourage Saanich residents to review the paper and tell the Government what you think of their proposed bylaw standard.

Link to online survey:

http://www.agf.gov.bc.ca/resmgmt/sf/residential_uses_in_ALR_consultation/index.htm.

BC government delays report while agricultural commission suffers: NDP critic  

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By Andrew MacLeod June 2, 2011 11:20 am 

The New Democratic Party's agriculture critic Lana Popham is questioning the government's delay releasing a report on the needs of the Agricultural Land Commission, an agency she says lacks the budget to do its job properly.
Agriculture Minister Don McRae says the "pretty comprehensive" report has been on his desk since he became minister and he hopes it can get cabinet approval and be released soon.
"I think it lays out exactly what they need to function," said Popham. "Right now they don't have enough money to fulfill their mandate and their mandate was to protect agricultural land and promote agriculture. It's at a point where they have no budget to do any of those things. It's a skeleton commission."
ALC Chair Richard Bullock submitted the report to the government last fall, but it just keeps getting shuffled around on the minister's desk, she said.
Meanwhile, farm land in the province is threatened by things like the dumping of fill from construction sites, she said. There are rules against it, but the ALC lacks the staff to enforce them, she said. "They can't keep on top of it, there's no budget and they're doing the best they can."
Burying farmland in fill can be lucrative, she said, citing the example of a Saanich farm that recently took 10,000 truck loads of fill at $70 each from the Uptown mall project. "It begins to be more profitable," she said. "It destroys the farmland."
McRae said he's trying to get the report in front of cabinet and hopes it can be released within the next two weeks.
"It's something that's really important to me, obviously," he said. "We want to make sure we go down a path that's going to be acceptable to government, and I think it's one of those areas we don't want to make any mistakes on."
Premier Christy Clark made McRae the minister on March 11. "It was there when I got to the ministry, so it's definitely been there for awhile," said McRae.
"Sometimes the wheels of government don't move as fast as we all would like, but at the same time the last thing I want to do is bring out something premature and find it's not going to meet the needs of farmers and British Columbians," he said.
Popham has made a request under freedom of information legislation for the report and other communications between the ALC and the ministry. "It would have been much easier if he would have released it months ago and we could have talked about what were the needs before we're going into another farming season," she said.
She's 'ticked' the agricultural sector doesn't have a stronger champion at the cabinet table, she said.
Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here
.

Growers abandoned?  

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Don Plant, The Daily Courier, 2011-05-17
http://www.kelownadailycourier.ca/stories_local.php?id=357431 

The B.C. government has turned its back on Okanagan fruit growers and failed to provide British Columbians with enough domestic food, the province‘s agriculture critic said in Kelowna.

Lana Popham said the government is focusing too much on selling B.C. food to other countries and doing too little to stimulate local markets. In the Okanagan, fruit growers are suffering while four million British Columbians rely increasingly on imported food, she said.

"We‘ve abandoned agriculture in B.C.," Popham said Monday. "We have the lowest support for agriculture of any province in Canada. The government doesn‘t think it‘s a priority. They believe agriculture here is a cost and not an investment." 
Popham joined Adrian Dix on his first swing through the Valley since he won his party‘s leadership last month. Dix repeated the agriculture policies he touted during his campaign to replace outgoing Carole James - provide grants to fruit growers, feed B.C. fruit to hospital patients and revive the Buy BC marketing program.

"There‘s so much at stake. This is a critical issue for the economy of this region and we can‘t afford any more delay," he said. "I‘m challenging the government to act right now."

The cost of growing apples last year outstripped what growers earned - an average of 22 cents a pound compared to 14.5 cents a pound. After three years of poor returns, hundreds of growers are in debt. Banks are forcing some to sell their properties and many can‘t afford to buy what they need to harvest a crop this season.

Their representatives with the B.C. Fruit Growers Association have asked the government for $7.5 million worth of grants to cover equipment, supplies and credit to grow a crop this year. Agriculture Minister Don McRae has yet to give an answer. 
"Growers need assistance in purchasing inputs," said BCFGA President Joe Sardinha. "It‘s critical growers have the ability to purchase fertilizers, sprays, nutrient sprays, and have the means to afford production insurance."

The proposed program is too small to be deemed a subsidy, which can trigger countervailing duties at the U.S. border in retaliation, Sardinha said. He thanked Dix for taking up the growers‘ cause, but added he‘s working with all parties to acquire a lifeline.

Growers and the NDP support contracts that would deliver Okanagan apples to Valley hospitals and other health regions in the province to boost their sales. Patients would benefit from healthier food; procurement contracts would still align with trade agreements as long as it‘s a local food service, said Popham. 

Restoring Buy BC, which ended in 2001, would encourage British Columbians to buy locally grown food. Growers would partner with restaurants and add value to their fruit, she said. 

"I hope the government‘s listening . . . Otherwise we won‘t have growers any more."

The B.C. government has said the deficit is too high, most revenues are going toward health and education, and there‘s no extra money. The consequences of doing nothing would damage a fruit industry that provides thousands of jobs and is a linchpin of the Okanagan‘s economy, said Dix.

Because Premier Christy Clark is vague on when the next election will be, the party is campaigning as if it will happen soon, Dix said. 

"We encourage the government to take action now. It can‘t wait until 2013," he said. "Both parties should . . . support the package. . . I don‘t care who gets the credit." 



Supreme Court of Canada says it is fair to deny farm workers the right to unionize  

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This is a very concerning set-back for farm-workers rights in Canada. You can read the Supreme Court Decision here.


And here is an April 29/2011 article about it by Sharon Hill in the Vancouver Sun.

Lana.


Supreme Court denies right of farm workers to unionize

WINDSOR, Ont. — The Supreme Court of Canada has abandoned Ontario's farm workers and the charter of rights has failed them, UFCW Canada national president Wayne Hanley said Friday after the union lost a 16-year court battle to allow agricultural workers to unionize.

"We are shocked that the Supreme Court of Canada has treated agricultural workers differently here in Ontario than any other worker," Hanley said at a Toronto news conference after the ruling was released.

In an 8-1 decision, the Supreme Court sided with the province, ruling its Agricultural Employees Protection Act does not infringe on the charter. At issue was the freedom of association. The act allows workers to form associations to take complaints to employers and if needed to a tribunal, but it doesn't allow collective bargaining.

"The Supreme Court of Canada has abandoned agriculture workers here in Ontario in their plight for dignity and respect," Hanley said.

Without protection under the Labour Relations Act like other workers, farm labourers may then be second-class citizens, said Stan Raper of the UFCW.

"This is just wrong. It's unjust and this decision is not really worthy of the paper it's printed on. It's not even fertilizer."

Joining UFCW officials was Mindy Leng, who worked at a Kingsville, Ont., mushroom farm seven years ago.

"I'm sure right now a lot of farm workers are very, very disappointed," said Leng, 29, who is now studying to be a nurse.

"The condition that we work in is really harsh," Leng said of her former mushroom picking days. "The employer did not take care of us or protect us, so that's why we had to run to the union, They listened to us. We want to be heard by somebody."

The UFCW said it will continue to fight for farm labourers but it seems their court options after two trips to the Supreme Court are done. The union could lay hundreds of thousands of complaints under the act upheld by the Supreme Court and lobby the province to allow collective bargaining.

One of the justices in the Supreme Court ruling said: "The decision to impose a duty of collective bargaining should be made by the legislature and not by the court."

The provincial government has no plans to change the act, said Sarah Petrevan, a spokeswoman for Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Minister Carol Mitchell.

"The decision means that farm workers maintain the right to form associations to represent and communicate their interests and employers under the act are also obligated to address the workers' issues or concerns and that is what the court agreed with," Petrevan said.

Farm groups are delighted with the ruling, said Ken Forth, chairman of the Ontario agriculture industry's labour issues co-ordinating committee.

"The ruling still protects the rights of workers under the Agricultural Employee Protection Act. It's a good outcome for agriculture, in our view."

Ken Wales, a vegetable grower who is the committee's vice-chairman and the vice-president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, said the act needs to be given a chance to work.

Wales said farmers are glad to hear a clear decision that the act is constitutional and "that we can get on. This issue has gone on for too long."

The union battle started in southern Ontario. In 1995, the UFCW unionized about 200 workers at Highline Mushrooms in Leamington under 1994 NDP legislation that gave collective bargaining rights to farm workers for the first time in Ontario.

When the Conservatives came to power in 1995, they repealed the law and the union appealed. The union took the case to the Supreme Court. In 2001, the court ordered the province to make a new law.

The new legislation, the Agricultural Employees Protection Act, did not allow collective bargaining so the UFCW challenged it.

In 2008, the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled the act violated the charter right to freedom of association and the province was ordered to come up with new legislation. Ontario appealed the case to the Supreme Court and won.

Read more: http://www.windsorstar.com/business/Supreme+Court+denies+right+farm+workers+unionize/4697807/story.html#ixzz1Lam4NAI8

Four Remarkable Women  

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Organic farming on Southern Vancouver Island owes a great debt to four remarkable women: Mary Alice Johnson, Tina Fraser Baynes, Marti Martin-wood and Rebecca Jehn.

Today - in honour of the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day - it is my pleasure to re-release a documentary about their early efforts.

It was directed and filmed in 1995 by Helen Rezanowich of the Media Network Society. I know that it inspired a number of women to begin farming… including myself!

The film captures the challenges that women face if they want to farm. But it is also about the joy and value that comes from growing food for yourself and others. I know many women farming today will relate to the feelings and ideas expressed in this film.

Many of the projects these women helped start – such as Moss Street Market – remain vibrant and successful to this day. I’m also very happy to report that all four women are still actively farming.  

Mary-Alice Johnson, for example, has transformed land in Sooke into a highly-productive and successful farm, ALM Farm. She and her business partner Marika Nagasaki grow a full range of vegetables, including fifty types of heritage tomatoes, and coveted salad greens. They also have poultry and pigs, run a busy seed company (Full Circle Seeds) and protect wild natural spaces on the edge of the farm. The whole operation is certified organic, employs several people and grosses over $100 000 a year!

Tina Fraser Baynes also continues to farm organically at Corner Farm in North Saanich. She has a busy farm-gate stand, and has helped start the North Saanich Farm Market. She also teaches a popular course at Camosun College about how to start a farm.

Marti Martin-Wood runs Two Wings Farm in Metchosin with her husband Bernie. Their seed company was founded in 2000 and continues to provide high-quality, certified organic and open-pollinated seeds.

Rebecca Jehn operates Rebecca’s Garden, a certified organic market garden in Saanich. She is also well known for her preserves and seeds. She continues to hold workshops on seed saving, plant propagation, harvesting and marketing produce, as well as canning and preserving the harvest.

I asked Mary Alice if she had a word of advice for young women considering farming. Her answer? “Well, I worry about people being too idealistic about it. It is very hard work. But it can be done – there is a huge demand for local and organic. People will thank you and value your efforts. It’s an extremely rewarding way to make a living.”

I hope you will enjoy this video and join me in celebrating four remarkable farmers for this year’s International Women’s Day.



BC Farmworkers deserve better  

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Four years ago today a transport van carrying farm workers crashed on the highway near Abbotsford, injuring fourteen people and killing three women: Sarabjit Kaur Sidhu, Sukhwinder Kaur Punia, and Amarjit Kaur Bal.

A wooden bench without seatbelts was being used in place of seats, the vehicle was in poor repair, and was carrying 17 people, more than it could safely hold.

A 2009 coroner’s inquest made 18 recommendations but the government has failed to act on some of the most important ones, including improvements to road-side and on-site vehicle inspections.

As the Opposition Critic for Agriculture, I will continue to speak out about this tragedy until the government does more to ensure farmworker safety and restore employment rights for B.C. farmworkers.

I’d like to thank my colleagues New Democrat interim leader Dawn Black and labour critic Raj Chouhan for joining the deceased women’s families at a candlelight vigil in Abbotsford last night.

As Ms. Black said: “It’s time for [the BC Liberals] to stop treating farmworkers like second-class citizens. And it’s time to restore full rights to them under B.C.’s Employment Standards Act.”

And I echo Mr. Chouhan’s words as well: “Ms. Clark has said she’ll put B.C.’s families first. If she means what she’s promised, she must act for farmworkers and their families today.”

You can read more about the vigil here:

http://www.theprovince.com/news/Five+years+after+farm+workers+Abbotsford+crash+coroner+recommendations/4393227/story.html


Local Beekeepers are fighting to keep our precious island pollinators safe  

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Here is a letter I sent today to BC Agriculture Minister Ben Stewart regarding the inadequate protection of island honey-bees.

February 25, 2011

Dear Minister Stewart,

I am writing to draw your attention to a matter requiring your action. As you are likely aware, the owner of Babe’s Honey, Mark Pitcher, is now facing several fraud-related criminal charges. I assume he is innocent until proven otherwise in a court of law. Having said that, it is important to revisit how your Ministry has handled the Vancouver Island bee file.

My understanding is that the policy to lift the quarantine on the importation of bees and of bee equipment on the island was based in large part on input from Mr. Pitcher.

In contrast, hundreds of Island beekeepers – including substantial honey-related business owners – were denied input in the decision-making process. They were and are presenting a consensus on what steps are necessary to safeguard our island pollinators and improve honey bee health on the island.

Experts, concerned individuals and myself, have been speaking out strongly about this situation since the quarantine was lifted. We have warned your ministry repeatedly of the danger of this course of action. Our input was ignored.

At this point, it is important to ensure the safety of hundreds of millions of bees recently brought onto Vancouver Island by Mr. Pitcher. I have questions regarding the health and maintenance of these hives. As the Official Opposition Critic for Agriculture, I am asking for answers.

I want to know what course of action you are recommending and what steps you are taking to ensure the situation improves.

This issue affects all of us on the island because if these bees become diseased and spread their disease, our already-decimated precious island pollinators could be further harmed.

As you know, pollination is a very important part of our food security and pollination is fundamental to our island agriculture industries.

I look forward to your earliest reply.

Sincerely,

Lana Popham

MLA Saanich South
Official Opposition Critic for Agriculture

And check out this Times Colonist article for more details: Concern for Babe's Honey bees as company enters receivership.

Response to the Budget - Agriculture Focus  

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Today I rose in the Legislature to call the BC Liberal government to account for its failure to support agriculture.


RETURN THE SOUTHLANDS TO THE AGRICULTURAL LAND RESERVE  

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Five Shiny Purple Seeds  

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Scarlet Runner Bean Seeds
I hold in my hand five shiny, purple, seeds. They have come from inside an old medicine bottle that my grandmother Mavis gifted to me many years ago. With the seeds came a small handwritten note.

“These seeds are from your great grandfather’s garden. He saved the seeds from his Scarlet Runner beans each year. I thought you might want to try them out in your own garden. Love Grandma Mavis”.

I started with eight of these purple seeds and I tried to germinate them one seed at a time over three years…careful not to waste the chance to grow the exact beans my family had feasted on two generations ago. Each year the bean seed failed in some way and after the third failure I felt that just having the seeds themselves would have to satisfy me.

These days I keep those five seeds in my desk at the BC Legislature to remind myself of my connection to agriculture and why I entered politics.

If you are like me, this time of year is even more exciting than the holidays because in your mailbox you will be receiving, not Christmas cards, but the 2011 Seed Catalogs. Nothing is better on a cold winter afternoon than having a hot cup of tea, a stack of seed catalogs, and the thrill that comes from planning the current years’ harvest. Fabulous!

The value of local seed and the importance of supporting local seed companies is becoming more significant these days. As the climate changes and our growing conditions change, local seeds are changing too. They are evolving to conditions and hopefully adapting to the changes in our environment. This is all part of the sustainability equation.

It troubles me that a few major corporations have control over the majority of our seed supply. This is not healthy for our communities, for our local economies or for the diversity and health of our seed banks. Supporting local seed companies is investing in our future. Supporting local seed companies also supports the economic development of our local economies. Money spent at the local level is re-spent at the local level. Plus it helps farmers diversify their incomes.

Our local seed savers are playing a critical role as far as food security goes. As my friend Dan Jason of Salt Spring Seeds says “save seeds like our lives depend on it”…because they really do.

This time of year brings one of my most favorite events into our communities. Seedy Saturday! Below are some of the BC Seedy Saturday locations and dates. Maybe I will see you there!

Lana.
  • Qualicum Beach, Feburary 5th, at the Qualium Beach Civic Centre (10am-4pm) Visit their site for information on an array of topics from speakers to vendors and more!http://qbss.bravehost.com/
  • Salt Spring Island, Feb. 12, 2007 Held at the Farmers Institute, Salt Spring Island from 10-3pm
  • Victoria, Feburary 19th, at the Victoria Conference Centre, 720 Douglas Street Victoria (10am-3pm)
  • VanDusen Botanical Garden, Feburary 26th, 37th and Oak Street Vancouver (10am-4pm)
  • Sooke, Feburary 26th, Sooke Community Hall (10am-4pm)
  • Nanaimo, March 6th, at the Bowen Park Auditorium (10am-4pm)
  • Cobble Hill, March 12th, at the Cobble Hill Hall (10am-3pm)