Fraser Basin Council wants to develop an agricultural plan for the North Thompson and District of Clearwater is endorsing the initiative.
Last Tuesday town council approved a recommendation from the District of Clearwater/Wells Gray Country joint services committee to provide letters of support for FBC’s application for funding to complete Stage 1 of a North Thompson Agriculture Plan.
According to background from staff, the plan would focus on a community’s farming/ranching sector to determine the strengths and weaknesses, identify opportunities, develop practical solutions to strengthen the industry and to work towards long-term sustainability.
Stage 1 would see the formation of an agricultural advisory committee to define terms of reference. There would be minimal in-kind contributions from stakeholders such as meeting space and staff time.
Stage 2 would be the actual development of a plan, which would require further commitment of $65,000 – $70,000. Cost to TNRD Areas A, B, O and P, the districts of Clearwater and Barriere, and Simpcw First Nation would be approximately $5,000 each.
In 2005 Community Futures, in partnership with Clearwater, Barriere and Blue River, developed a five-year economic development strategic plan for the Valley. In that plan, agriculture was identified as an industry that needed support and focus. At that time the region had 35,000 ha of agricultural land. Total sales were $5.9 million but expenses were $6.26 million.
Trends in agriculture that could benefit the Valley include:
• higher interest in the 100-mile diet;
• growing demand for agri-tourism;
• direct purchasing from farms and farmers’ markets;
• increasing demand for organic, pesticide-free and free range products; and
• increasing numbers of combined agriculture/tourism operatons.
BC Stats forecasts that agriculture will become the province’s largest primary industry employer as employment in the forest, fishing and mining industries declines.