EDITORIAL:: Time for action is overdue

Provincial government needs to provide assistance to North Okanagan farmers

Let’s hope the provincial government has finally got the message.

North Okanagan politicians lobbied the ministries of health and agriculture Thursday to pull back on the heavy-handed meat processing regulations that have crippled local farmers financially.

In fact, it’s believed the number of meat producers has plummeted from 1,200 to 300 since the regulations were launched in 2007. Local poultry farmers have lost $1.4 million.

“The policy has devastated the single-family farm in our region,” said Patrick Nicol, Regional District of North Okanagan chairperson.

Beyond this, the rules have meant North Okanagan residents have not been able to access food closer to home, even though Victoria continues to sing the praises of food sustainability.

Norm Letnick, B.C.’s new agriculture minister, says he’s aware of the concerns and is pushing his staff for options. That’s great, but one has to wonder what has taken so long?

RDNO has been demanding rule changes for years but that’s fallen on deaf ears. The government suggested that slaughtering licenses may be permitted  at one point but then absolutely nothing occurred.

Letnick says finding a solution is complex, but what’s more complex is a farmer trying to balance his books when his market base is eroding.

If the provincial government is truly interested in the economy and healthy eating habits, as well as the wellbeing of communities, then it needs to immediately reverse direction.

Letnick won’t promise when changes may occur, and that unfortunately, means other farmers are likely to quit before something is done.