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Surrey Develops New Plan to Protect and Enhance Agriculture Sector

chickens interacting on a farm!

April 22, 2013

Surrey – The City of Surrey has set out a comprehensive and coordinated action plan designed to protect and enhance the healthy growth, viability, profitability and sustainability of the local agriculture industry. The new Surrey Agriculture Protection and Enhancement Strategy is focussed on five key priorities: land base, innovation, infrastructure, agri-urban connections, and sustainability and resiliency.

“Agriculture has played an integral role in Surrey for more than 100 years and one-third of our land is agricultural. Our city is home to close to 500 farms that generate over $165 million in economic activity each year. This new strategy will build on our successful policies to further enhance our land base, encourage innovation, improve sustainability, and maximize productivity,” says Mayor Dianne Watts.

The strategy was developed following extensive consultation with the City’s Agriculture and Food Security Advisory Committee, and compliments the initiatives underway through the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, and Metro Vancouver.

“The strategy addresses some of the challenges we face and focuses on specific steps that we can take to preserve our land, enhance food security and remain competitive in today’s marketplace,” says Councillor Linda Hepner, Chair of the Agriculture and Food Security Advisory Committee. She adds the City of Surrey was the first municipality in Metro Vancouver to establish an Agricultural Advisory Committee, which played a key role in the development of the plan.

The five strategic directions in the strategy include:

Land Base

Stability, predictability and a contiguous farm land base are crucial to maintaining a healthy agri-food system in Surrey. This strategic direction focuses on protecting farm operations from urban impacts, curbing and eliminating illegal activity on farm land, supporting increased food production, and preserving agricultural land for farming.

Innovation

Adapting to and fostering innovation is a key element to staying relevant in an ever-changing economy and global trade system. This strategic direction prioritizes the use of smarter, more sustainable food growing and production systems and supporting farmers who want to diversify their crops and expand into new markets.

Infrastructure

Supporting existing and new farms with appropriate and affordable infrastructure is necessary for the continued viability of agricultural production in Surrey. This strategic direction focuses on the on-going improvement of lowland drainage, ensuring existing and future transportation networks do not impede agricultural operations, and reviewing existing policies and regulations to ensure that they do not inadvertently place financial or operational barriers on farm operations.

Agri-Urban Connections

Operating within a rapidly changing urban region is an ever-present reality for farms in Surrey; particularly for those farms that directly abut urban areas. This strategic direction supports building public agriculture awareness through campaigns, connecting residents with Surrey farmers to provide a link with locally-grown food, connecting school programs with local agriculture, and supporting food systems that encourage healthy local diets.

Sustainability and Resiliency

A successful, sustainable agricultural industry relies on a stable, predictable climate and a healthy and productive natural environment. This strategic direction supports encouraging farmers to operate in ways that support biodiversity, supports the diversification of crops and agricultural operations and develops emergency management strategies that allow the agricultural industry to respond and adapt to unpredictable climate fluctuations.

Resources

The City has dedicated resources to planning and coordinating City efforts in relation to ensuring a vibrant agricultural sector in Surrey. These resources will be used to assist in implementing the policies and directions contained in the Strategy for which the City is responsible and will act to encourage other stakeholders to undertake those elements of the Strategy for which they are responsible. Progress reports will be provided to Council periodically to document progress in the implementation of the Strategy.

For more information on Surrey’s agriculture industry, please visit: http://www.surrey.ca/for-business/1422.aspx

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Media Contact:

Tara Foslien
Senior Communications Specialist
Office of the Mayor
604.375.4584