Farmers, ranchers and food processors in Yukon and northern B.C. may soon have more local customers, as the two governments connect to build food security and increase the supply and production of local food in the North.
“Working together is key to life in Canada’s north, and the partnership between farmers, Indigenous communities, experts and governments will help increase local food production and economic activity,” said Lana Popham, B.C.’s Minister of Agriculture. “Our co-operative efforts will encourage greater involvement and awareness of local food, and help more people in Yukon and northern B.C. enjoy the flavours and benefits of products from their communities.”
Ranj Pillai, Minister Responsible for Yukon Agriculture, said, “Yukon and British Columbia share common challenges and opportunities in our efforts to encourage local food production in northern communities. The new memorandum of understanding emphasizes that by working together and sharing expertise, we can better promote food security, promote agricultural production, develop sustainably and grow market opportunities for northern farmers and ranchers.”
The governments be partner with the agricultural sector, as well as academic and community leaders, to develop and share expertise specific to growing in northern latitude. Topics of discussion will include limitations in temperature and duration of seasons, offset by long summer days, as well as supporting business relationships amongst different farmers, food processors and agriculture service suppliers in both areas. Targets include:
- expanding local food and beverage production through a farmer/rancher forum that supports networking, knowledge transfer and business relationships;
- developing and sharing expertise around farm management in remote settings;
- partnering with academic institutions to help northern growers and food-processing sectors grow and commercialize products;
- reducing barriers to agricultural trade between neighbouring jurisdictions; and
- increasing producers’ access to processing and retail markets and shared inspection services. For example, increasing access to meat inspections through shared inspection services or mobile abattoirs.
The governments also committed to supporting a larger role for Indigenous peoples in northern agriculture and food production by working with Indigenous communities to:
- increase Indigenous involvement in sustainable food production and agricultural business opportunities; and
- facilitate Nation-to-Nation dialogue in and between both jurisdictions to build capacity and develop agriculture and traditional food-based activities and initiatives.
The strategies are described in further detail in a memorandum of understanding signed by Popham and Pillai.
Memorandum of understanding: http://news.gov.bc.ca/files/MOU_BC-and-Yukon.pdf
Yukon Agriculture: State of the Industry Report 2013 – 2017: https://yukon.ca/sites/yukon.ca/files/emr/emr-agriculture-state-of-the-industry-2013-2017.pdf
Local food strategy for Yukon: https://yukon.ca/sites/yukon.ca/files/emr/emr-local-food-strategy-for-yukon.pdf
Yukon Farm Guide: https://yukonag.ca/yukon-farm-guide/
Statistics about B.C. farms, seafood and food processing: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/agriculture-seafood/statistics/industry-and-sector-profiles
The Buy BC program: https://buybc.gov.bc.ca/
A backgrounder follows.