On Nov. 13, BCAC hosted and organized a session with our members and members representatives to help focus our strategic direction for the upcoming election year. Many of the issues included the need for BC agriculture industry to be on a level playing field with other jurisdictions. A summary of the meeting has been circulated to our members for final review. BCAC has also drafted up some suggested questions to ask political candidates, including:
What are your party’s commitments in regards to developing a long term provincial food strategy for the province of BC?
What will your party do to reduce the tax burden on the agriculture sector?
What will your party do to help promote BC food and agriculture for both domestic and international markets?
What is your party’s intention regarding changes to the agricultural labour legislation?
What will your party do to reduce the increasing public responsibilities and regulations being put on the agriculture sector?
BC's 1st Forum on agriculture and the environment, part of ARCORP's Agriculture Environment Initiative was a success. This invitation-only event, held in Richmond, BC on Oct. 30 was filled to capacity.
If you are a part-time farmer who has reported restricted farm losses in the past, a recent Supreme Court Canada decision may be in your favour.
On Oct. 2, BCAC made a presentation and a written submission to the Provincial Budget 2013 Consultation through the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services. A summary of our recommendations included:
· Reducing the cost of doing business in BC, increasing investment in BC.
· Increasing sales of BC food products by educating consumers on the broader societal benefits provided by BC farmers and ranchers.
· Supporting membership in farm organizations to assist in the effective transfer of knowledge to producers.
· Implementing a GST like rebate approach to the PST system and income tax linked incentives, such as tax credits or accelerated depreciation rates to increase investment
· Increasing economic activity in agriculture while discouraging land speculation by strengthening the ALC and linking agriculture programs to active farmers.
· Exempting agriculture from the Carbon Tax.
· Allowing farm workers to bank some hours during busier season to reduce dependency on EI programs when work is not available.
Packaging Stewardship – for farmers who sell packaged product into the BC Retail system
As part of the on-going discussions regarding packaging stewardship, a meeting with industry representatives and Multi Materials BC was held on Dec. 3. Participants focussed on the practicalities of packaging in BC agriculture. Participants support recycling, but agreed the administrative costs for small farm businesses under the current proposal is prohibitive and puts BC agriculture producers at an uneven playing field with other jurisdictions. Implementing a single approach was identified as a challenge to the BC’s diverse agriculture industry. Clean Farms’ experiences in other provinces are being used to identify best practices that could be used in BC.