EDITORIAL: Agriculture minister needs to visit region

Pat Pimm is still finding his way around the office after being named B.C. agriculture minister.

Pat Pimm is still finding his way around the office after being named B.C. agriculture minister. However, as important as becoming familiar with his portfolio is, he needs to hit the ground running.

That means he needs to get out of Victoria and meet face-to-face with the producers of B.C.’s diverse agricultural commodities.

And first stop needs to be the North Okanagan as there are significant issues here that remain unresolved by the Liberal government.

Specifically, is the matter of meat processing regulations and the fact that five farm gate licenses, as part of a pilot program, are insufficient to meet the needs of local producers who have taken a huge financial hit under the onerous rules. Five licenses also can’t address the demand from North Okanagan consumers to buy meat right from the source.

Pimm needs to sit down with local farmers and the Regional District of North Okanagan and hear directly from them about what changes are required to ensure some industry stability.

While here, Pimm also needs to meet with Vernon’s Jeet Dukhia, president of the B.C. Fruit Growers Association. That sector also continues to face challenges and a provincial commitment for support, such as funding for tree planting, is required.

The Liberal government speaks often about how it is committed to creating jobs and revitalizing the economy. But the entire focus can’t be on oil and gas development.

Agriculture plays a critical role in regions like the Okanagan and Pimm needs to roll up his sleeves and get to business.