Recent History – 1998
By Mark Nielsen, Daily News Staff, Dec. 18, 1998
Food will be much more on the minds of British Columbians by this time next year if provincial Agriculture Minister Corky Evans gets his way.
Asked during a teleconference on Thursday what his big challenge will be in 1999, Evans said he wants to make B.C. residents more aware of the importance of food production to the economy.
“We have to make food a big, sexy exciting subject to the people of B.C. so that they understand why this industry matters,” he said.
Evans said he also wants to change the approach to marketing B.C.-grown food, so that quality is emphasized over price.
“We’re going to get people to buy the best food in the world because that’s the niche that we occupy,” he said.
Taking the other route of undercutting the competition will be pointless as we head into the new millennium. “We have no chance of competing in the next century after the next round of GATT if government and farmers have to solve the problems,” he said.
By quality, Evans means food with less pesticides, herbicides, and milk without growth hormones. Evans and Environment Minister Cathy McGregor have done everything they can inside the government to advance the issue, he said, now it’s up to the select standing committee on agriculture and fisheries.
The committee, made up of MLAs from across party lines, will be touring the province in the fall of 1999 as part of an effort to develop a provincial agri-food policy.
Already there have been extensive provincial and regional consultations with farmers, processors, distributors and retailers.
Evans expects that by next Christmas the committee will have a report completed. “When Cathy and I are sitting here a year from now we ought to have the vision for the millennium for agriculture in our hands,” he said.