B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham.                                 (Steven Heywood/News staff)

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham. (Steven Heywood/News staff)

B.C. 4-H clubs get $87,000 from the province

Saanich Fair announcement benefits around 2,500 people in 135 clubs

B.C. NDP Agriculture Minister used this weekend’s Saanich Fair as the backdrop to announce $87,000 for provincial 4-H clubs.

The money is the province’s annual financial commitment “that ensures B.C.’s future agricultural leaders are being supported today,” stated a ministry media release.

Jean Stevens, Vancouver Island Director of 4-H B.C. said she’s been in 4-H for 30 years.

“I’m watching my grandchildren coming into 4-H and it’s just the best program going,” she said. “I’m honoured to share the stage with Minister Popham … I’d like to express our sincere gratitude for your continued support for the 4-H program.”

Popham said she’s been coming to the Saanich Fair “for more years than I can count. I’m a committed Saanich Fair goer.”

Popham said she was appointed Minister of Agriculture by NDP Premier John Horgan in July as said it was “a dream come true.”

“Before I became a politician, I was a farmer and I farmed right down the road here on the Saanich Peninsula.”

Popham said the government has a new mandate and within that is a program called Grow BC, which she calls a way to connect young farmers to the land and to help ensure “farmers don’t have to fight to farm.”

“The access to land is getting more difficult … Our government is pledging to make sure that the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) is not a land bank for housing development, but for food security, as it was supposed to be.”

She said her intent will be to push very hard for stability and consistency in farming as the minister responsible for agriculture. As for 4-H, she said it teaches four main pillars: Head, Hands, Heart and Health, and those youth in the program are the future of agriculture.

“The B.C. government is honoured to have a close partnership.”

Popham said she encourages people to support local and provincial farmers — more so now than ever following the devastating wildfires that have impacts on many agricultural producers. She said the government plans on stepping up and helping those interior communities — and farming communities — recover.