Food Security Task Force formed to strengthen B.C.'s farming sector
Minister of Agriculture Lana Popham (centre) with Peter Dhillon at an Ocean Spray cranberry farm. (Province of B.C./Flickr)
A new task force in B.C. is hoping it can find new ways to strengthen agriculture in the province through technology and innovation.
The three-person Food Security Task Force was first mentioned in the 2019 throne speech and is intended to help B.C. produce more food while reducing waste.
"By helping farmers put more B.C. farmland into production, our government is supporting the province’s agricultural industry and strengthening food security for all British Columbians," said Minister of Agriculture Lana Popham in a news release.
"We are always looking for new ideas as we continue to help farmers produce more, grow new crops and develop thriving businesses. I know the task force will identify further innovations to support the sector and I’m looking forward to receiving their recommendations."
The task force will be led by Peter Dhillon, the chair of the Ocean Spray board of directors and president and CEO of Richmond-based Richberry Group of Companies. Dhillon will be joined by Arvind Gupta, former president of the University of British Columbia and Lenore Newman, who holds a Canada research chair in food security and environment at the University of the Fraser Valley.
Together, the trio will assess the B.C. farming industry and provide advice.
"B.C. has an opportunity to be the best in the world when it comes to innovation in our agricultural sector," said Dhillon.
"At a time when climate change and technology are rapidly changing how we grow food, it is more important than ever that we make sure B.C.’s agritech sector has the support it needs to thrive. On behalf of the task force, we look forward to preparing a report for the government on how B.C. can help make that happen."
During the task force's first month, B.C. residents can give their feedback in an online survey, indicating what they think the task force should focus on.
Questions include if food security should be a priority in B.C., effects of climate change on agriculture, B.C.'s competitive advantages and possible barriers.
The deadline to submit feedback is Aug. 16 and the task force will give a final report to the ministers of Agriculture and Jobs, Trade and Technology by Dec. 31.