Fraser-Nicola MLA Jackie Tegart.

Fraser-Nicola MLA Jackie Tegart.

Victoria Report: Celebrating local agriculture

MLA Jackie Tegart looks at the importance of agriculture in our region and in our lives.

It’s not a stretch to say our lives are touched by the agricultural industry each and every day. The foods we reach for at the market and put on our table come from hard-working farmers, growers, processors, and manufacturers, many of them based right here in Fraser-Nicola.

This sector is also a huge contributor to our provincial economy. 2015 was a record year for B.C.’s agricultural and agri-food sector, with revenues topping $12.3 billion for the first time.

Locally we take great pride in our long ranching history here in Fraser-Nicola, and in the nutritious offerings of businesses like the Desert Hills Ranch in Ashcroft and Horsting’s Farm Market in Cache Creek. I’m also noticing a renewed interest in farming on the part of our young people, who are taking up the practice to serve the growing number of people interested in knowing where their food comes from.

It’s important that we nurture that interest in farming and ranching at a young age. Last year the province signed a 10-year memorandum of understanding with 4-H B.C., to help engage young British Columbians with careers in agriculture.

We’re also encouraging people to buy local. The $8 million Buy Local B.C. Program offers funding for B.C.’s agriculture, food, and seafood sectors to enhance local marketing efforts to increase consumer demand and sales of B.C. agri-foods.

We also provided a $4,000 grant to the Ashcroft and District Fall Fair Association to stage this year’s fair on Sunday, September 11 at the Drylands Arena in Ashcroft. This is one of the great events on the region’s calendar, celebrating our agricultural roots and showcasing a wide variety of locally-produced goods.

I encourage everyone to come out to the fall fair and support our agricultural community! And don’t forget to stop by one of the great farmers’ markets in the area operating weekly through October, such as the Lytton Two Rivers Farmers’ Market on Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Cache Creek Farmers’ Market on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., or the Spences Bridge Farmers’ Market on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.