Time, money and good intentions... upfront


he road to hell is paved with good intentions,” someone said, way back when. There

are differing opinions as to who that someone was, and there are differing interpretations of what it means. One is that wrongdoings or evil actions are often masked by good intentions, or even that good intentions, when acted upon, might have unintended consequences. Another meaning is that individuals might intend to undertake good actions but fail to do so. Not that I fear Lana Popham is hellbound, certainly not, but as you'll read in Associate Editor Judie Steeves' exclusive interview with the province's latest agriculture minister, she's got a basketful of good intentions. It's been more than 16 years since

her New Democratic Party has held the reins of power in B.C., having lost them in May of 2001 when the NDP suffered what was easily the worst defeat of a sitting government in provincial history, winning just two of 79 seats in the legislature. The party hasn't had an opportunity

to set agricultural policy since the affable Corky Evans had the ag portfolio, which he held from 1996 to about six months before the election disaster. The intervening years have seen a revolving door of BC Liberal ministers, several of whom actually had real backgrounds in agriculture and at least one who was a total misfit. The door stopped spinning with the appointment of Norm Letnick, who has devoted some quality time and effort to the job, although I'm not sure his photo-op black cowboy hat qualifies as genuine farm garb. But back to Ms. Popham, whose government has a tenuous grip on power that it could lose if Andrew Weaver and his two fellow Green Party MLAs should so decide. How much action she'll be able to

take during what could only be a matter of months remains to be seen, of course. Not everything she talks about in the interview has a large dollar figure attached to it, but some of it is bound to. And provincial government expenditure on

4 British Columbia Berry Grower • Fall-Winter 2017

agriculture is a sore point in many quarters.

According to the

most recent figures from Agriculture and Agri-food Canada (for 2015-16), B.C. ranked sixth among the 10 provinces in terms of

provincial government spending, behind — in order — Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Total government expenditures expressed as a percentage of agriculture GDP, were lowest in B.C. at 14.3 per cent, and highest in Alberta, and Newfoundland and Labrador at 35.6 per cent. Money isn't everything, of course.

But it goes a helluva long way toward helping the agriculture sector be the best it can be. I don’t think Ms. Popham will be

able to pursue many of her good intentions, never mind extract enough money from Treasury Board to do so, before we’re into another election.

Elsewhere in this issue, you’ll read

about how two relatively small berry operations are finding success with polytunnels (also known as polyhouses, hoop greenhouses or

hoophouses, grow tunnels or high tunnels). Our winemaking guru, Gary Strachan, provides advice and tips on how to get maximum quality from berry wines, and we have details on work by entomologist Paul Abram at the Agassiz Research and Development Centre to find biological controls for insect pests such as the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug. For the birds, learn about the use of

laser technology to provide a silent scare device. There’s a feature on Vippen Joshi,

longtime pathologist in the Ministry of Agriculture’s plant health laboratory in Abbotsford, and another on work by a professor at the University of BC - Okanagan to have agriculture have a more significant place in land-use planning. And we have a berry industry spin

on figures released a few months ago from the 2016 agriculture census which show, perhaps not surprisingly, that berry acreage has increased across the country, led by blueberries and cranberries. Enjoy!

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