Farmers and growers in the Creston Valley will have an opportunity to learn about a new policy agreement on April 15, when the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture hosts an information session at the Downtowner Motor Inn from 7-9 p.m.
Growing Forward 2 (GF2), officially launched April 1, is a $3 billion investment by federal, provincial and territorial governments and the foundation for government agricultural programs and services over the next five years.
“It is a program that helps farmers when they have financial stresses due to market issues, or non-weather-related issues,” said Nicole Ramsey, AgriStability representative for the South Okanagan and Kootenays, from her Oliver office.
For example, she said, Okanagan farmers couldn’t sell their cherries for cost when cheaper Washington cherries flooded the market. Mad cow disease (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) has, not too long ago, caused severe financial losses in the cattle industry.
Ramsey’s presentation will also inform locals of the changes to the AgriStability and AgriInvest programs as a result of the GF2 agreement, show them how to fill out harmonized forms and offer an opportunity to have questions answered. A limited number of one-on-one sessions can also be arranged for the following day.
“It’s their opportunity to meet their rep because we don’t get meet face to face,” said Ramsey. “Sometimes when dealing with someone over the phone, you can’t get your point across. It’s nice to be able to have that one-on-one.”
This will be the first time an AgriStability representative has visited Creston since 2011.
“I am really looking forward to coming out and meeting with the producers,” said Ramsey. “We are trying to let them know they’re not a number.”