Over 50 people turned out for a meeting in Armstrong this week with MP Mel Arnold. He says he wanted to hear their concerns and ideas regarding the agriculture industry.
“It was positive to see a wide range of sectors from the agricultural community represented, as well as local governments from within the North Okanagan-Shuswap,” said MP Arnold. “I value the thoughtful input that was provided, and as Member of Parliament for this riding, I will take the messages constituents shared with me back to Ottawa.“
Some in attendance shared concern for the ongoing North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiations, and other trade talks affecting Canada’s agriculture industry. Supply management was also discussed with attendees speaking both in opposition and in favour.
One attendee, a local dairy farmer, expressed the need for greater education around supply management to address misconceptions and increase public awareness. MP Arnold said he is open to considering all information surrounding the effects of supply management, and related to growing up on his family’s dairy farm in Notch Hill where he witnessed the positive change the system provided.
Cannabis was also a topic of interest with debate amongst the crowd as to whether its production should be permitted on Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) land regulated by the provincial government. One local mayor commented on the pressures local governments face and the need to amend the provincial Right to Farm Act to address cannabis production.
MP Arnold encouraged attendees bring forward policy ideas with the potential to strengthen Canada’s agriculture industry. One such idea was Institutional Food Procurement that would see food in local institutions—such as hospitals, senior care homes and schools—supplied by local producers to support local economies.
“It was great to connect with farmers and other concerned citizens to discuss our agriculture sector that not only produces world-class food, but drives our local economies,” said MP Arnold. “The gathering was very productive and informative, and I look forward to hosting more public forums in the near future to discuss matters of importance to the constituents of the North Okanagan-Shuswap.”