Farmers persevere in face of challenges

Farmers are facing more challenges than ever before, at a time when it’s never been more important to grow our own food.

Farmers are facing more challenges than ever before, at a time when it’s never been more important to increase our ability to grow our own food.

From mass bee die-offs that are driving small honey producers out of the business, to the undermining of the agricultural land reserve by the provincial government, farmers face a bumpy ride into an uncertain future.

The need to fight for our agricultural land reserve has never been so clear. Food prices are on the rise as California, from which we import a huge portion of our food, is devastated by years of drought.

Transit costs to transport food long distances are bringing into question the continued feasibility of our current practices.

Yet our province weakened the reserve instead, fundamentally changing the rules by allowing economic considerations (think resource development and urban sprawl) to influence the future use of farmland for non-agricultural purposes.

It’s a move in exactly the wrong direction.

T.W. Paterson tells us that it was agriculture that drove the Cowichan economy 100 years ago, and it’s still one of the most important economic drivers now.

In the future, we predict that it will only increase in importance, as the trip from field to table, by necessity, shortens.

There are bright spots. These come in the form of our innovative, driven farmers who never cease to move forward, putting down roots and flourishing in the Warmland.

Whether it’s producing some of the best wine on the continent or bringing a business raising flowers into full bloom, Cowichan’s farmers are right there in the forefront, carving out a niche for themselves.

Then there are the small seed growers resolutely pushing back at consolidation of the international seed market, as an ever-decreasing few seize control of the world. After all, what is more fundamental to life than food?

Already the market is dominated by only a handful of powerful corporations, and that number is only getting smaller by the day.

The thought of that much control over a basic necessity of life in the hands of so few, with the sole focus of making money for themselves, is terrifying.

Every small seed producer is a seed of hope.

From raising emus to brewing our own beer, there is much potential in the Cowichan Valley to be a food leader.

It’s never been more important to support our local industry.