MLA REPORT: Buy local this Christmas

Greg Kyllo urges residents to support North Okanagan agriculture

As we approach the Christmas gift-giving season, a common panic sets in — what to buy for loved ones and acquaintances.

How about a gift that benefits not only the recipient, but the community? I’m talking about buying local, which is a great way to support our local farmers and artisans.

Here in the Shuswap, we’re blessed with a number of farms that I recently had the privilege to show off to Agriculture Minister Pat Pimm.

We started the day at the Spallumcheen farm of the Veldhuisen family, who gave us an informative tour of their automated milking facility. We then toured the robotic milking facility at Bouwe Mediema in Trinity Valley, which was also an eye-opener. The folks at both farms showed us how modern technology is helping to get their delicious products out to more people.

We also visited the Blue Goose Cattle Company in Grindrod, the only federally-regulated organic abattoir in the province. Next up was a visit to the famous Dutchman Dairy farm in Sicamous, where the minister and I enjoyed a delicious ice cream cone!

For more than 30 years, the Dewitts have offered old-fashioned, hand-made dairy products with a focus on top-quality ingredients.

We ended our trip at Farmcrest Foods, a small family-run operation in Salmon Arm. Family members spanning three generations have collectively more than 150 years of experience in the poultry industry.

These visits spoke to the amazing knowledge, dedication, and hard work of our farm families who supply locals and visitors with high-quality goods. It was a great learning experience for us, but also a way for us to show our commitment to the local agriculture industry.

There has been a lot of discussion recently about the B.C. government’s core review process, and whether it will impact the Agricultural Land Commission. Our core review is looking at the ALC to ensure it is set up to provide the best possible services, at the best possible value for taxpayers. Now and in the future, the ALC will continue to be an independent decision-maker and will continue to preserve B.C.’s best agricultural land for future generations.

Our commitment to the Agricultural Land Commission remains strong. In last year’s budget, the ALC received an extra $4 million over three years to protect B.C.’s farmland, including increased enforcement capacity.

Government needs to continually look for opportunities to improve the delivery of services and ensure that they are meeting the needs of British Columbians — the ALC included. I hope we can work together to make that happen.

In the meantime, buy local and enjoy a yummy holiday feast courtesy of our hard-working local farmers.

Greg Kyllo is the MLA for Shuswap.