The new NDP government in British Columbia has appointed Lana Popham (Saanich South) as minister of agriculture, effective July 18. She’s an obvious choice with both practical farming experience as well as political experience as opposition critic for agriculture for four years.
Twenty years ago, she started the organic grape orchard, Barking Dog Vineyard, which became the first certified organic vineyard on Vancouver Island in 2000. Her support for local and organic food is well-known through her community activities.
“The agriculture industry, including the tree fruit sector, is set to grow its major economic contribution to the BC economy,” said Fred Steele, president of the BC Fruit Growers’ Association. “We will work with Minister Popham to deliver on agriculture’s potential in the BC economy. Let’s start by getting some BC cherries to the hardworking firefighters! ”
The BC Agriculture Council also welcomed her appointment, having worked together on preserving the Agricultural Land Reserve.
The new government has stated that priorities for agriculture include: employment; the Grow BC, Feed BC, Buy BC initiative; plans to revitalize the land reserve and Agricultural Land Commission; plans to bring back an enhanced Buy BC marketing program, expansion of markets for vintners, brewers and craft distillers; encouraging leadership and innovation.
The environment portfolio will also affect agriculture. The NDP’s election platform promised to increase the current $30-a-tonne carbon tax by $5 a tonne per year starting April 2018.
In related news, the new deputy minister of agriculture is Wes Shoemaker, a previous employee of the agriculture ministry before moving to the environment ministry.
Source: BC Agriculture Council & BC Fruit Growers’ Association July 18, 2017 news releases