OPINION: Farmers and producers must be treated fairly and given support they need


NDP MLA for Richmond Queensborough

IN recent weeks, many people have written to me expressing their concerns about the reaction to peaceful protests by farmers in India. Many people in B.C. have friends and family who farm in India, and it has been extremely distressing to watch these events unfold and to worry for the safety of our loved ones and their communities.

Everyone has the right to protest peacefully. And we must use our voices to call for this right to be respected. People have been gathering in Surrey, Vancouver, Victoria and elsewhere to show their support for and solidarity with Indian farmers.

Our provincial government has heard these concerns from British Columbians, and we take them seriously. That is why Premier John Horgan has written a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, to convey to him the anguish and worry felt by many people in this province. Premier Horgan has urged the Prime Minister to continue to encourage the Indian government to seek a peaceful resolution to this issue through meaningful dialogue with the farmers. I strongly believe in dialogue and the democratic process, and I know that is the only way this issue will be resolved.

At the heart of this issue is the question of respect for farmers. Those who grow and produce food are a vital part of every society. Having access to fresh, nutritious food makes everything we do possible.

And yet, it is easy to forget just how much work goes into every meal we eat. When our food comes from other parts of the province, the country, or the world, we do not get a chance to meet the people who produce it. But behind every ingredient is a farmer or producer who deserves to make a fair living.

As a provincial government, we recognize that we also have a duty to ensure the farmers and producers in our province are treated fairly and given the support they need.

We know that the COVID-19 pandemic has created many challenges for business owners in B.C., including farmers, ranchers, and food producers. As we plan our economic recovery, we are making sure that they are not left behind.

As part of our government’s $10 billion COVID-19 response, we have invested $5.6 million in expanding B.C.’s Food Hub Network. Food Hubs provide shared food processing space, equipment, and services in communities across the province. By sharing the cost among several businesses, smaller food processors can bring their products to market more easily. This means there will be increased demand for local ingredients, giving farmers more chances to sell their food.

When these new Food Hubs are opened, people all over the province will have more chances to buy delicious products that are grown and made in B.C.

Our food system is made possible by hard-working people who deserve our support, gratitude, and solidarity.