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Getting down to business


Letnick looking to forge alliances with industry as province’s latest ag minister.


By Judie Steeves B


ritish Columbia’s newest agriculture minister is a personal supporter of the


concept of buying local and eating organic, and he’s hopeful that having so many former agriculture ministers now in cabinet will be helpful in gaining support for the industry in the legislature. Okanagan-Lake Country MLA


Norm Letnick feels his business background is a good match for the portfolio because all farmers are in business as well. He has 20 years’ experience in


business and 10 years teaching it at the University of B.C. However, Letnick also is the


seventh MLA to be named agriculture minister in the past four years in B.C. and the 11th in the past 20 years. Former agriculture ministers who


sit with him around the cabinet table include Steve Thomson, Ben Stewart, Don McRae and Pat Bell. “They all know what I’m talking about,” commented Letnick. To highlight his enthusiasm for the


new post, the rookie cabinet minister invited industry to use his mug to promote their products. “I’m game,” he laughed. “I’m willing


to do blind taste tests on any B.C. agricultural product out there. I’ll do what I can to educate people about all the great products we have here,” he


16 JUDIE STEEVES


Happy to be a poster boy for farming, Norm Letnick says he is willing to do blind taste tests on any B.C. agricultural product.


offered. On a more-serious note, Letnick


said he is very supportive of industry co-operating to fund initiatives such as research and promotion. “Industry should be allies to expand


markets elsewhere. Growers have way more marketing strength working together than individually. Rising water raises all ships,” he commented.


On the issue of national councils,


Letnick expressed support for the apple industry’s efforts to form a national council so a levy per pound of fruit could be deducted from both Canadian and imported fruit to go toward an Apple Research and Promotion Agency. It’s already in place in Quebec and


Ontario, where the levy goes toward promotion of the apple industry.


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