In keeping with the Cariboo’s reputation as one of the B.C. bread baskets, and in keeping with her personal farming background, Coralee Oakes has been appointed to a key committee focused on the agri-food industry.
Oakes, the MLA for Cariboo North, has been named to the Select Standing Committee on Agriculture, Fish and Food. This group of MLAs from multiple political parties is a construct of the BC Legislature. It will have communications portals so the people of the province can submit their thoughts on the issues, concerns and ideas pertaining to food security and the agricultural economy. The committee will also hold public meetings online, so people can register to make a presentation. The committee is already anticipating some of the key themes being agricultural soil, carbon sequestration, and related technology in B.C., but the floor is open.
“There are a number of practices and technologies that agricultural producers can adopt to improve soil health and carbon capture,” said Rick Glumac, committee chair. “Committee members are interested in hearing about opportunities to increase carbon content in agricultural soils, support B.C.’s agritech sector, and encourage the use of made-in-B.C. innovations.”
Ian Paton, deputy chair, said: “Committee members look forward to hearing from British Columbians, including farmers, ranchers, producers, growers, processors, Indigenous organizations and agritech innovators. What we hear from land stewards and those working in the province’s agricultural sector will inform our recommendations.”
There are nine MLAs on the committee. Oakes, on a visit to Vanderhoof stockyards this week, issued a statement concerned with the state of ranching. Normally, in the month of July, the centralized auction facility there transacts 300-500 cattle but this July the number is 3,200 as cattle operations shed mouths to feed over winter, due to lack of hay and other forage. The provincial drought and wildfire damage to range areas are the main reasons.
“It’s an emotional day. A lot of families are having to make some tough decisions,” Oakes said, and added that ranchers urged her to tell constituents to “not forget how important the agricultural sector is to this province and to this country…We need to be valuing (food security and the people involved in ensuring food is being grown).”
Ideas such as these can be brought to the attention of the agriculture committee by submitting written presentations up to Nov. 17, or appear at an online meeting by signing up before Sept. 1. Do that via the committee’s website or call 1-877-428- 8337.