British Columbia’s government has released a new five-point agriculture plan to encourage residents to buy more locally grown food and farmers to adopt more environmentally friendly practices.
In announcing the province’s new Growing a Healthy Future for B.C. Families plan, Agriculture Minister Pat Bell said that the government’s commitment to a new direction for the local agriculture and food industry would see 16.8 million Canadian dollars being spent over three years to implement various projects.
‘The whole focus is on the family farm and ensuring it’s sustainable in the long run,’ Minister Bell stated. ‘The intent is to have our products labeled so consumers can make decisions when they purchase their groceries. We’re putting the details together, but expect to have it in place by the end of the calendar year. It encourages consumers to buy local.’
The plan focuses on five key themes that underlie the future sustainability of the region’s food production. One feature is the ‘food miles’ program that will provide consumers with information regarding how far food grown within the state has traveled and the associated greenhouse gas emissions.
The plan also concentrates on improving agricultural practices to address environmental and greenhouse concerns, supporting the development of innovative and profitable family farm businesses, building the agriculture capacity of First Nations and increasing urban agricultural possibilities through school programs and a review of zoning regulations.
The plan proposes the setting up of North America’s first urban agriculture research center. ‘Our goal is to use this research centre to find ways to make local agriculture more compatible with the urban environment,’ says institute director Deborah Henderson.
The research center would investigate the possibilities of utilizing smaller farm plots or even rooftop gardens for food production. ‘We’d also like to explore different ideas on land tenancy while using the research centre to teach people how to produce food in their own back yards,’ Henderson said.