VICTORIA - British Columbia's new agrifoods strategy, released under the BC Jobs Plan, charts a path forward to increasing local food production and processing, while supporting job growth and healthy communities.
"B.C. Agrifoods: A Strategy for Growth" is a five-year strategic plan based upon three priorities:
- Promoting B.C.'s high-quality and high-value products.
- Expanding both domestic and international markets.
- Enhancing industry competitiveness.
The agrifoods sector has great potential for growth and offers exciting opportunities to inject new dollars into the B.C. economy. The strategy builds on the 2008-11 BC Agriculture Plan, guiding the further development of B.C.'s agrifoods sector with a goal of increasing industry revenues from the current $10.5 billion a year to $14 billion annually by 2017.
Highlights of "B.C. Agrifoods: A Strategy for Growth" include:
- Promoting local foods and strengthening the domestic market through the interactive online initiative, Foods BC.
- Achieving full traceability for B.C. livestock and seafood, to enhance British Columbia's global reputation for safe, secure food production.
- Expanding international markets for beef, berries, seafood and wine.
- Reviewing regulatory and taxation levels.
Over the next five years, the agrifoods strategy will also support industry innovation, address the sector's labour market needs and ensure a sustainable land base for production.
B.C. has a competitive advantage over many other jurisdictions because of its worldwide reputation for producing safe, high-quality and high-value food products. As Canada's gateway to the Pacific, B.C. can leverage this advantage to access existing markets in the U.S. and Europe, as well as developing markets in Asia.
Premier Christy Clark -
"The agrifoods sector is critical to B.C.'s future. Our new agrifoods strategy will target economic growth and development which, in turn, will lead to increased jobs. We envision an innovative, adaptive, globally competitive sector valued by all British Columbians."
Minister of Agriculture Don McRae -
"2011 was a very successful, profitable year for many B.C. farm families. And with the BC Jobs Plan focusing on increased trade and market development, particularly in Asia, we expect that trend to continue through 2012, bringing new dollars and new jobs to our communities."
B.C. Agriculture Council chair Garnet Etsell -
"With the initiatives planned or currently underway, the agrifoods strategy helps to move the agriculture sector in the right direction. We support steps that the government takes to improve B.C.'s competitiveness, and encourage continued policy improvements to ensure a viable and sustainable industry."
Restaurant 62 executive chef Jeff Massey, Abbotsford -
"My philosophy has always been to create and maintain a menu where the food is locally inspired and ingredient-driven. The agrifoods strategy will encourage agricultural growth in the Fraser Valley and in other communities across B.C. That's good for our economy and our health."
- B.C. has the most diverse agrifoods industry in Canada, producing more than 200 agriculture commodities and 100 seafood species.
- Agrifoods currently employ over 61,000 people, and 14 per cent of the provincial manufacturing workforce.
- Approximately 50 per cent of the foods British Columbians eat are grown locally in B.C.
- The Province has more than 1,400 food-processing businesses, producing a variety of foods and beverages ranging from fruit juices and artisan beers to specialty pet foods and wild botanicals.
- B.C. exports over $2.5 billion in agrifoods products to 135 countries worldwide.
B.C. Agrifoods: A Strategy for Growth:
FoodsBC Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/FoodsBC
We want to hear from you. Please share your ideas at: BCJobsPlan.ca
Two backgrounders follow.
Ministry of Agriculture
Agrifoods strategy highlights
In 2010, B.C. producers generated over $716 million in farm sales from the production of over 50 different types of fruits and vegetables.
B.C.'s Agrifoods Sector has significant potential for expansion because of its strategic Pacific Rim location, a strong transportation and communication infrastructure, established supporting industries, abundant natural resources, and a diversified agrifoods base.
Promoting local foods and strengthening the domestic market through the interactive online initiative, Foods BC
- To help promote B.C. foods, the Province is developing a new interactive initiative to encourage retailers, chefs and consumers to buy more local agrifoods products.
- Promoting local foods and strengthening the domestic market through the interactive online initiative, Foods BC. For the first time, B.C. will now have a single, centralized source for up-to-date information on fresh, local food products along with select sector information, recipes, health information and events.
- A FoodsBC Facebook page was launched in early January, serving as the hub for other types of social media.
- A FoodsBC Twitter account shares information with a much broader audience and directs followers to the Foods BC site each time new content is added.
- The Province will be working with industry stakeholders to further develop domestic marketing programs.
Achieving full traceability for B.C. livestock and seafood, to enhance British Columbia's global reputation for safe, secure food production
- The Province is committing to support an integrated national traceability system, in partnership with federal agencies.
- The Province will implement a premise identification system to support traceability for livestock and poultry and a pilot program for B.C. seafood.
- Premise identification links livestock and poultry to their geographic locations for planning and managing emergencies.
Expand international markets for beef, berries, seafood and wine
- B.C. is Canada's largest producer of blueberries, raspberries and sweet cherries by volume.
- In 2010, B.C. exported $2.5 billion worth of food to 135 countries.
- As part of the strategy, the Province will increase promotion of B.C. exports abroad and work with producers to help them enter or expand their international markets.
- The BC Seafood Market Exchange links buyers from around the world directly with B.C. seafood companies. Developed by the Province in partnership with the B.C. Seafood Alliance, the exchange is currently expanding to support further growth and market development.
- B.C. produces enough wine each year to fill nearly 15 million bottles. To help expand domestic and international wine markets, the Province will investigate co-marketing opportunities between sectors (e.g. seafood and wine).
Reviewing regulatory and taxation levels
- The Province will establish a competitiveness committee made up of sector leaders and government to determine new ways to make the B.C. agrifoods sector more competitive, focusing on identifying and addressing barriers.
- It will also establish a mechanism to measure profitability and set a target, which the Province and industry will work together to achieve.
- The Province will also aim to provide relief for farm property tax by reviewing farm assessment policies.
- Over the next year, the government will undertake a comprehensive review of the carbon tax and its impact on British Columbians. The review will cover all aspects of the carbon tax, including revenue neutrality, and will consider the impact on the competitiveness of B.C. businesses such as the agricultural sector, and in particular, B.C. food producers.
Ministry of Agriculture
Public weighs in on agrifoods sector
Through the BCJobsPlan.ca website, the public has shared suggestions about ways to improve British Columbia's agrifoods industry. Below are examples of the online dialogue. (Both the suggestions and responses have been edited for length.)
"BC potentially has the natural resources to be a leader in jet biofuels (including) algae."
From Vi; also echoed by Victor - Mainland/Southwest
"Agriculture is advancing innovative solutions to agricultural waste management challenges, supporting the sector's participation in energy and carbon efficiency, and promoting the development of renewable energy and bioproducts.
"In the past six months, the Ministry has been involved in a number of activities that support emerging biofuels opportunities including:
- Review of alternative crops for B.C. including energy and multiple use crops;
- Building on a 2009 feasibility study for algae production in B.C., ongoing efforts have been made to support algae research, development and deployment;
- Supporting workshops for producers on Carbon Sequestration and Credits in Agriculture which included a presentation on algae production;
- Collaborating with Metro Vancouver to assess potential for algae production using waste water from treatment plants; and,
- Exploring opportunities with the federal government's National Research Council for an algae production pilot project in B.C."
"I would like some government support and opportunity to create a sustainable organic farm producing food for the island community."
From Kimberley - Vancouver Island/Coast; echoed by Kristy
"The organics industry is one of several sectors that are being supported by the actions in the Agrifoods Strategy. As part of this strategy, the province will enhance organic market access by promoting value chain development for the organics sector.
The Province also recognizes that new farmers need assistance to strengthen their businesses, create jobs and support economic growth. The ministry is exploring a number of activities to support new farmers to be successful. These include:
- Providing expert advice, tools and information to support farm succession planning, new farmers, business growth and diversification.
- Examining the feasibility of setting up a farmlink program connecting farmers to under-utilized land in their communities.
- Provide relief for farm property tax by reviewing farm assessment policies."
"Revise meat processing regulations and trade rules to allow for economical abattoir operations in the province of B.C., rather than squeezing B.C. processors out of the market and exporting those jobs to Alberta."
From Jillian - Nechako
"All abattoir operators that sell products within B.C., but not outside provincial boundaries, must be provincially licensed under BC's Meat Inspection Regulation, administered by the Ministry of Health.
In the spring of 2010, the B.C. Government requested a review of the meat inspection system in provincially licensed Class A and B abattoirs. At present, the Class A and B plants are inspected by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), under contract with the BC Centre for Disease Control. The CFIA has notified the B.C. Government that it will no longer provide meat inspection services after December 31, 2013. Therefore, B.C. is developing a provincially operated meat inspection system to replace the role of the CFIA by this date.
The Ministry of Health established a steering committee in 2010 to develop a report with options for a new provincial meat inspection system. This process, entitled the B.C. Abattoir Inspection System Review, was a collaborative effort of the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Agriculture, BC Centre for Disease Control and BC Food Processors Association. Maintaining or improving food safety, industry support, livestock health and welfare, and cost efficiency were key objectives for a new provincial meat inspection system.
A strong provincial meat inspection system will support BC's farming and meat industry jobs, particularly in rural B.C.
As a follow-up to the report, the ministries of Agriculture and Health are leading a consultation process with the B.C. meat industry and other stakeholders to gather implementation advice on the report's recommendations and options. Consultations will help inform the development and execution of a new provincial meat inspection system.
Details on the consultation process are posted on both the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Agriculture websites. Along with the consultations, written submissions can be forwarded until April 30th."
We want to hear from you. Please share your ideas at: www.BCJobsPlan.ca
Specifically, what action can you take to inspire people to buy BC food?
Ministry of Agriculture