Home Business & Economy Food & Agriculture BC food security direction includes watchful eye on California

BC food security direction includes watchful eye on California

"A whole list of measures" regarding food sustainability in BC are coming forward soon, says House Leader Ravi Kahlon.

drought, california, farmland
Cracked land and damaged plants in a California soybean field.[Web 2021]

Monday February 6, 2023 | VICTORIA, BC [Updated February 7, 2023]

by Mary P Brooke, B.Sc. | Island Social Trends

Food security is being addressed by the BC government as a “top priority for us in our economic plan” and with a watchful eye on California.

Today Minister Ravi Kahlon — speaking as house leader in the absence of Premier David Eby (who is in Ottawa for the Council of the Federation meeting about health care) — said that California is losing “a lot of farmable land because of drought and fires”.

ravi kahlon, house leader
House Leader Ravi Kahlon after the Throne Speech, Feb 6, 2023. [Hansard video]

“This is going to have real impacts on food prices as well as our supply chains here in British Columbia,” said Kahlon in response to a question from Island Social Trends.

BC and other parts of Canada import fresh fruits and vegetables and other food products from California.

“So we need to prepare. The food security piece is going to be critically important for us both on ensuring we’re supporting our farmers to produce food closer to home and process food closer to home,” said Kahlon in the 3:15 pm media briefing that followed today’s BC Throne Speech 2023.

“Also that communities have access to food and that young people have access to food. I’m looking forward to the initiatives,” said Kahlon about food security directions in BC.

pam alexis, agriculture
Agriculture and Food Minister Pam Alexis, on Feb 3, 2023 in Mission, BC. [government media session]

The BC Agriculture and Food Ministry under direction by Pam Alexis the new Minister of Agriculture and Food is reviewing food security. Kahlon says Minister Alexis has been “working overtime since she got the portfolio to bring a whole list of measures forward”.

“She looks forward to making those public in the very near future,” said Kahlon.

Supporting farmers to produce and process food closer to home is part of the direction under Premier Eby’s leadership.

Previous agricultural directions:

Under the previous Agriculture Minister Lana Popham (under then-Premier’s John Horgan’s leadership, summer 2017 to fall 2022) there was an approach essentially focussed on the “Buy BC” branding, expanding out the farmers market network and capacities, building a food hub in the Greater Victoria area, and helping to rehabilitate Fraser Valley farming operations after the major flood of November 2021.

Vancouver Island food sustainability:

It’s been known for years that here on Vancouver Island we produce only about three percent of our population’s food requirements. That was a focus of the federal candidates during the Fall 2021 federal election in Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke.

sooke, food chi, seedy saturday

Being on an island, all incoming food supplies are transportation-dependent (by air, ferry and truck). This adds to the cost of food in retail grocery stores.

Farmers and food-growing enthusiasts on Vancouver Island often also contributing to developing a local seed supply, as one of their own local initiatives. Local BC farmers markets are often managed or supplied by local growers.

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mary p brooke
Mary P Brooke, Editor, Island Social Trends

Island Social Trends emerged in mid-2020 from a preceding series of publications by founder/editor Mary P Brooke and published by Brookeline Publishing House Inc, covering news of the Vancouver Island region, BC and national issues through a socioeconomic lens.

Among other credentials, Mary Brooke holds a B.Sc. in Foods and Nutrition.

The publication series began with MapleLine Magazine (2008-2010), then morphed to a weekly print newspaper Sooke Voice News (2011-2013), and then into the weekly PDF/print West Shore Voice News (2014-2020). The news at IslandSocialTrends.ca (2020 to present) is entirely online.