B.C.’s agriculture minister has made his first visit to the Peace in his new role.

Minister Don McRae has been speaking with various groups to hear their concerns surrounding agriculture in the region. He says he is in the area to learn about what the various needs are of producers in the Peace so that he can take that information back to Victoria with him.

He says B.C. boasts the greatest diversity of agricultural products in Canada and it’s important to have an understanding of the challenges facing various producers.

One of the biggest concerns he says he had heard surrounds the Agricultural Land Commission. He says various groups have told him the Commission needs to recognize that farmland in the north is very different from farmland in the southern part of the province.

In recent years, many farmers and ranchers in the Peace have been experiencing drought conditions and this summer may not be any different. Despite the current rainy weather in Fort St. John, Environment Canada is predicting most of the country will experience a hot, dry summer, including B.C. In addition, lower than normal rainfall is expected throughout the province.

McRae says there are various options available to farmers who experience problems with their crops, including AgriStability and AgriRecovery. He says the Province is working with the federal government to share funding for agriculture programs. However, McRae says the Province is in debt and cannot give endless amounts of money to farmers. He says the Province hopes to access federal dollars soon to aid deserving producers.