My partner Susan and I recently had the privilege of attending the annual Erste August Party hosted by Franz and Louise Feldman at their ranch right here in the East Kootenays.
The Feldman Ranch is a truly amazing place encompassing thousands of acres of some of the most beautiful land and scenery in the world. The event was a celebration of Swiss culture and the pioneer families who opened this area to ranching and farming. Along with an amazing buffet of food that included a BBQ of traditional sausages and mouth-watering desserts, the gathering gave us a unique glimpse into Swiss culture, with folks dressed in traditional garb and a long list of songs enjoyed in the Swiss language accompanied by an accordion and guitar.
As we sat fully embracing the experience, a realization hit me like a hammer blow; if tourism represents the Columbia River Revelstoke ridings bread and butter, then the ranching and agriculture industries represent our ridings meat and potatoes and as such are as equally important.
As I reflected on this realization, and as a B.C. Liberal, I was proud to know that since coming to power our government has supported ranching and agriculture and our achievements are notable and ongoing.
Under the B.C. Liberals, land in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) had a net increase of over 39,000 hectares while within a six year period in the 1990s the NDP removed over 20,000 hectares. We ended the NDPs 1990s record of overregulation of the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) by creating six regional panels around the province, ensuring that ALC decisions are made in the best interest of local communities. We have implemented many pieces of legislation guaranteeing farm worker safety and our Agricultural Plan continues to prioritize the promotion of local food production and to build agricultural capacity, which includes B.C. ranchers.
The B.C. Liberal government has provided more than $210 million to cattle ranchers through provincial and federal programs and we continue to provide millions of dollars for the Wildlife Damage Compensation Program. We have invested over $11 millon in the Meat Transition Assistance Program, helping producers comply with meat inspection regulations, and we partnered with Thompson Rivers University to develop new techniques and technologies so that B.C.s cattle industry remains sustainable both economically and environmentally.
Like all those attending the Feldmans celebration, we realize and understand that these industries need our continued political and personal support. In the end its all about great food and the great people who produce it; and yes, maybe a couple of great beers to go with it all.
President, B.C. Liberal Columbia River Revelstoke Riding Association