"Buy local" programs coming to communities throughout B.C.

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

VICTORIA – B.C., Canada : Government funding is now available to support local food producers by encouraging British Columbians to shop for food produced in their own communities.

The “Buy Local Program” will offer applicants matching funds from $5,000 to $100,000 to launch or expand local food marketing campaigns. Eligible organizations include associations, co-operatives, marketing boards, Aboriginal groups, companies and non-profit organizations.

The campaigns can promote B.C. food, seafood, agricultural products, agritourism, and include in-store promotions, social media or web campaigns, traditional advertising and on-product labeling. All applicants must have a head office or be registered in B.C.

Funding is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Applications will be reviewed by an Industry Advisory Committee comprised of representatives from farming, manufacturing, seafood, restaurant and the retail sectors.

Building the local market for B.C. foods is a key commitment of government's Agrifoods Strategy, a component of the B.C. Jobs Plan, to lead the agrifoods sector growth into a $14-billion-a-year industry by 2017.

Minister of Agriculture Norm Letnick said: “Since being appointed minister, I have been meeting with farmers and food processors in communities right across our province, and I have been hearing some great ideas on how we can promote our diverse British Columbian food products. Now is the time to turn those ideas into new dollars for local food producers. I encourage those eligible and interested in promoting local products to apply for the funding that is available.”

$2 million are made available to support "buy local" programs in B.C.

$1.5 million will be administered by the Investment Agriculture Foundation for the marketing campaigns through the Buy Local Program. Eligible products include:

  • Any food, seafood or beverage product made with a minimum of 85 per cent of B.C. ingredients. In addition, all processing and packaging must be done in B.C.

  • Products made with less than 85 per cent B.C. ingredients are also eligible for funding, provided the processing company partners with a local farm or producer. All processing and packaging must be done entirely in B.C. and use B.C. ingredients when available.
  • Agriculture products such as pet food, floriculture and nursery products that are not consumed by people.

The complete application criteria and program information including application forms are available through: www.gov.bc.ca/agri/buylocal.html

The British Columbia Agriculture Council will administer $500,000 to promote the wide variety of benefits provided by a vibrant B.C. farm community, and is working to develop a program that will help build consumer awareness of locally produced foods.

While this is a great step in the right direction an extension of “buy local” should considered to include not just agricultural products but also other goods produced locally, from local products, and here the forestry industry also is one sector that should be included.

© 2012