Former British Columbia agriculture minister Norm Letnick has been re-appointed to the post, replacing Pat Pimm as the latter recovers from cancer surgery.
Letnick, the MLA for Kelowna-Lake Country, had served as agriculture minister from 2012 until last May’s provincial election, after which he was dropped from Premier Christy Clark’s cabinet and appointed as parliamentary secretary for intergovernmental affairs.
Pimm, the MLA for Peace River North and ag minister since last June, underwent surgery in January in Alberta for colon cancer but has continued as minister until now.
“The protection of farmland and support for farming families is a priority for this government, and Norm brings a wealth of experience as a former minister of agriculture,” Clark said in a release Friday.
Clark thanked Pimm for “leading an ambitious agenda to strengthen and grow B.C.’s agriculture industry,” but added that “right now, he needs to focus on his family, his health and recovery.”
Pimm, however, will continue to serve as an MLA, the province noted in a release.
“I’m looking forward to getting to work, and that starts with reconnecting with stakeholders, sitting down and working together on our common goal of a sustainable and thriving agricultural sector,” Letnick said in the same release.
Clark’s reference Friday to “protection of farmland” involves a package of legislative changes introduced last month to grant the province’s Agricultural Land Commission “broader flexibility” on specific land uses within shorter-season areas of the B.C. Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR).
The changes would allow the commission to consider allowing otherwise-protected farmland in those parts of the ALR to host home-based businesses “that might help farmers subsidize their farming operations, by supplementing their income,” as Pimm put it last month.
The province has said it’s open to discussion about further changes, even within more productive regions of the ALR, such as allowing on-farm processing operations. [Related story]
Letnick, as ag minister, will remain responsible for intergovernmental affairs and the francophone file, and also as chair of the government’s Okanagan caucus and vice-chair of the cabinet committee on “strong economy.”
First elected to the legislature in 2009, Letnick was previously an associate professor in the business program at Okanagan University College. He was a city councillor in Kelowna from 2005 to 2008 and sat on town council in Banff, Alta. from 1992 to 1998. — AGCanada.com Network