Agricultural plan may take root

    The following write-up is a good example of the outcome of taking a proactive approach to promoting regional agriculture. I'm sure the North Okanagan isn't the only area of the province where agriculture is underappreciated. This tour, organized and put on by the Kamloops Dairymen Association, is the second one it has held in the region. The first was in the Salmon Arm area and, like with this one, local authorities were impressed and enlightened.

    Something not mentioned in this article is the fact that those who put on the tour did not limit their promotion to only dairy. The message was that dairy was but one example that demonstrated the relevance of agriculture in any given region.

    Here's the formula, for those who might want to consider doing the same thing: Hire a tour bus. Line up agreeable farmers willing to show off and talk about their operations. Invite local government politicians, planners, other farmers and merchants who do business with farmers along on the bus ride.Lots of informal chatter took place on the bus between stops. Provide lunch and a place to hear presentations and comments after the tour.

    Follow up with at least a nice letter thanking people for attending, or do what Lorne did, make a pitch to Council based on the tour. It'l lead to results.

    By Roger Knox - Vernon Morning Star

    Published: May 06, 2012 1:00 AM

    It’s good enough for the Columbia Shuswap Regional District, therefore the formation of an agricultural advisory committee and agricultural development plan should also take place in the North Okanagan.

    That’s the belief of Enderby dairy farmer Lorne Hunter of the Kamloops Okanagan Dairymen Association (KODA), who made a presentation to Regional District of North Okanagan board members Wednesday.

    “We would encourage the board to consider developing an agricultural plan and create an agricultural advisory committee,” said Hunter, who was part of two tours in the fall and last month introducing politicians to the area’s dairy industry.

    A tour of dairy farms in Salmon Arm in October was such a great success that Hunter figured it would be a natural to do the same thing in the North Okanagan.

    Tours of two Spallumcheen area dairy farms were conducted in April.

    “The Columbia Shuswap Regional District approved creation of an agricultural plan, and they are going to apply to the Investment Agricultural Foundation for the funding for the creation of the plan and advisory committee,” said Hunter.

    “I was very pleased to hear that.”

    One other thing that came out of the Salmon Arm tour was that Okanagan College’s Downtown Community Campus project coordinator Margaret Hardy vowed to make agriculture the flagship technology for a downtown campus.

    Hunter told RDNO directors that there are 90 dairy farms under KODA that produce 90 million litres of milk in the valley, and dairy farmers get paid 70 to 75 cents per litre.

    All of the businesses Hunter deals with in his operation is local, meaning Salmon Arm to Kelowna but mostly businesses in Armstrong and Enderby.

    “I deal with 61 businesses and of those 61 there are 360 employees,” said Hunter, who mentioned one such business, Mountview Electric in Enderby.

    “Mountview has 26 jobs and a million dollar payroll,” said Hunter.

    Because agriculture is a regional function, Hunter suggests a joint agricultural advisory committee be established between CSRD and RDNO.

    “Lots of work will go into it but I can see a lot of synergies coming from the work of both regional districts working together,“ he said.

    Mike Macnabb, director for BX-Silver Star, told Hunter the regional district has commenced with the process of setting up a regional agricultural committee.

    “We’ve sent information out to the electoral areas, municipalities and to the ALC (Agricultural Land Commission) for comment,“ said Macnabb.

    “This came out of our regional growth strategy. It’s grassroots. This is what the communities wanted. Agriculture is huge in this area. I’m really encouraged.“

    Hunter said KODA would offer its services to RDNO in assisting with making land use decisions and policies that will have an impact on agriculture and its viability.

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