By Shaun Haney
This week I am on holidays and have been enjoying the fresh BC fresh air and boating on the lake at any chance we can. Even though we are on holidays there is always time for a great half day field tour of some of the local agricultural production. On top of the recently new role of canola seed production in areas of BC, there are also many native agricultural activities to the area.
As we toured fields it was a great reminder that BC has its own special role in agriculture in Canada. Due to the size of corn, wheat and soybeans in Canada we tend to not talk about some of the production or industries in BC that are vital to agriculture in Canada. BC has a vital role in the ranching industry, dairy production, grape growing, wine making, and greenhouse production.
So why do we focus so much on wheat, soybeans, corn, canola and cattle? Even I am guilty for not thinking enough about some of the less main stream sections of agriculture. It would be interesting to poll farmers across the country on whether or not they thought greenhouses were a section of agriculture. I am betting the results would surprise us. Many of these smaller sub-industries with ag full fill tremendous needs to the consumers of this country.
When I think of BC, I think of the feeder cattle market. Large spread ranches that set in the most beautiful of settings. In fact it is probably the perception that we most try to fill in the brains of the urban beef consumer. We love to market the green pasture in front of the ice capped rocky mountains. But that is really just the tip of BC agriculture.
In many ways BC is more like Ontario than its neighboring western prairie friends. There is a strong dairy industry, cropping is on a relatively much smaller scale than the western prairies and a very strong wine grape growing region. Although the amount of farmers in these more fringe sections of agriculture are small, it is still imperative that we remember how agriculture policy affects them and why they are significant to this great industry of agriculture in Canada.