Agriculture


The prosperity of the OBAC region has long been reliant on its timber resources. However the mountain pine beetle epidemic is expected to create challenges for the traditional forest sector for several decades. OBAC is developing sector strategies that provide recommendations which are

The agriculture strategy is important to the region for the following reasons:

  • The agriculture industry has historically been very important to the region. However, over the past decade the productivity and diversity of the region’s industry has declined relative to the province as a whole;
  • The capability of the region to ‘cost-effectively’ produce food for local and other markets is not being fully realized;
  • A renewed interest in enhancing regional and local food security, and accessing locally produced foods matches well with an interest in diversifying the region’s economy. This will create new opportunities;
  • A renewal of the sector, which includes development of new products and new markets is now needed; and
  • Focused and collaborative efforts by the agriculture sector, business and senior and local governments are required to explore available opportunities and return the sector to profitability.

The communities of the region envision a future with an active, diversified, and profitable agriculture sector that is supported by regionally situated, responsive education and training, and effective research programs. The sector emphasizes food production that is sustainable and responsible; a sector that collaborates with health agencies, educational institutions, local governments, community groups, and others to develop measures to expand and diversify the industry. Using multiple strategies, the agriculture sector will be successful in local markets, be profitable with established products, develop new specialty and other products, and grow to serve broader provincial, national, and international markets.

The region has a strong agriculture community and many members were consulted to develop this strategy. This strategy will position the sector for short-term growth targeting local markets while laying the foundation for product diversification and growth to eventually reach provincial, national and international markets.

Four objectives have been developed to help achieve the regional vision.

Objective 1.

Diversify and strengthen the agriculture sector.

Objective 2.

Form stronger partnerships across the agriculture sector.

Objective 3.

Increase the capacity to train and recruit the required work force.

Objective 4.

Increase public support for the sector and interest in locally produced high quality food.

 
 

To achieve these objectives, the following five recommendations have been developed:

Recommendation 1.

Develop infrastructure that supports the agriculture sector and removes barriers to its further development and diversification.

Recommendation 2.

Attract new entrants to the industry and enable access to training and education for existing and new members of the sector.

Recommendation 3.

Strengthen the industry by increasing collaboration across the sector and by forging partnerships and communication links with First Nations, local communities, governments, heath, and education agencies.

Recommendation 4.

Support value-added and specialized product development and the development of provincial, national, and international markets for these products.

Recommendation 5.

Increase the demand for locally and regionally produced foods.

The required actions to implement each of these recommendations are presented in Section 6. Some key actions include:

  • Establish agriculture support officers that would support business planning and economic development in the sector;
  • Examine the feasibility and interest in establishing a “beef cluster” in the region that would include beef production, processing, and shipping of finished products;
  • Establish new and expand existing training and education programs relevant to the region’s agricultural opportunities and potential;
  • Establish measures to increase the production of and demand for local food;
  • Establish a regional agricultural advisory committee to engage with local education and research facilities;
  • Establish a regional agricultural resource centre in cooperation with the region’s post-secondary institutions;
  • Provide the BC Ministry of Agriculture and Lands with additional staffing to increase its level of direct farm outreach and related activity in the region;
  • Examine the business case for establishing a regional brand for marketing;
  • Convene regional forums to review ways to partner on agriculture initiatives;
  • Provide funding to support existing projects and undertake new pilot projects, crop trials, and other activities designed to increase the range of crops produced in the region;
  • Undertake market research to identify the potential market for products that are currently grown or may be grown or processed in the region; and
  • Assess the potential for expanding the greenhouse industry in the region.