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Posted: March 13, 2016

Giving B.C. a future in organics and farming

Letter to the Editor

In these past few weeks, the agricultural sector has been moving forward with great leaps and bounds into the future of farming and organic foods.

There are many highlights to choose from, but today I want to focus on three in particular: A new law that will allow for regulations limiting the use of the word “organic” only to foods that have been certified organic, a significant budget lift for the Agricultural Land Commission to help it safeguard good agricultural land for future generations and a new tax credit for farmers who donate their food to registered non-profits like food banks.

By 2018, after an appropriate transition period, all marked “organic” foods will be certified under either a provincial or national certifications program and offer certainty to shoppers. Government listened and is giving consumers the certainty they have been asking for.

The reality is the demand for organic products has increased rapidly in the last 10 years, and the requirements for businesses producing and marketing agrifoods products as organic need to reflect current consumer and business expectations. Regulations developed under the recently passed Food and Agricultural Products Classification Act will deliver that.

Requiring organic certification for products grown and marketed in B.C. will create opportunities and growth for small businesses, leading to more jobs and increased revenues. By becoming certified, new organic producers will be joining a brand of recognized standards that consumers can purchase with certainty. These changes will strengthen the awareness and reputation of B.C.’s organic food and beverages, locally, across Canada, and around the globe.

Your provincial government is committed to protecting agricultural land for future generations in order to allow our producers to deliver some of the best tasting, highest quality foods. An additional $1.1 million to the Agriculture Land Commission’s annual base budget is another step to ensuring there is a future for the next generations in B.C.’s farming industry. Your government continues to stand behind and support improving B.C.’s food supply security, our farming sector and those who work in it.

Not only is the agriculture sector being recognized with new legislation needed to provide certainty to the term “organic” and additional resources to support our Agricultural Land Reserve, but also for their generosity by helping those in need. By introducing the 25% non-refundable farmers’ food tax credit, we are assisting local farmers who donate produce to registered charities like food banks and school meal programs. The gift of agriculture should be shared with everyone and I encourage more famers to take part in this beneficial program.

As the world of agriculture changes and we move in to the future of farming, I am reminded of the great successes the agrifood industry is achieving and the sales records that keep on falling each year. Through the dedicated work of over 55,000 people directly employed in the agrifoods sector in British Columbia and most importantly with your support, by buying local, we are taking the industry to new heights and continued sustainability.

Norm Letnick,

B.C. Minister of Agriculture

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