B.C. government invests $2 million in local food promotion, advertising

News Provincial

On Aug. 30, the B.C. government announced it would provide $2 million for the promotion of local farmers and food processors.

Any organization or business in the province that sells local products may apply for matching funding to promote their products through social media or web campaigns, in-store advertising, traditional advertising and other methods.

The initiative comes from the B.C. Jobs Plan Agrifood Strategy, which aims to develop B.C.’s agricultural food (agrifood) sector. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the agrifood sector provides more than 61 000 jobs and generates $10.5 billion in provincial revenue every year. The goal of the new strategy is to create $14 billion per year in agrifood revenue by 2017.

Elizabeth Quinn, executive director of the B.C. Association of Farmers’ Markets, expects the funding will have a positive effect on local advertising.

She says, “The farmers’ market can obviously [advertise locally], and they can craft their messages specifically for the people in their community, whereas if the government had done it, it would have been this broad campaign.”

Quinn explains that farmers will not be able to apply for this funding individually, but that the money will be allocated to organizations that represent these farmers, such as the B.C. Association of Farmers’ Markets.

“This is mainly because of the difficulty that would present itself when having to administer funding to individual farmers, a number ranging near 20 000,” says Quinn.

Philippe Lucas, co-founder of Victoria’s Downtown Public Market Society, says this new funding will aid the city.

“[Local food access] . . . benefits local businesses, supports local farms and supports keeping land in the agricultural land reserves,” he says.

Lucas adds that the funding will also strengthen local food security, helping money return to local producers and in turn to the city of Victoria itself. Without funding for local food industries and businesses, many projects in Victoria and throughout the province could experience difficulty starting up.

“We appear to be just a few months away from the launch of the new public market here in Victoria,” says Lucas. “It’s going to be the biggest local food project that the South Island has seen in a number of years.”

To maximize the impact that the new funding will have, tool kits have been given to individual farmers’ markets by the B.C. Association of Farmers’ Markets.
“The tool kit will help them measure the increase in customers and sales over time,” says Quinn.

Groups like Enterprising Non-Profits, the enviroFund through Van City, the Investment Agricultural Foundation of B.C. and others have been funding agricultural organizations in the province for many years.  

Of the $2 million in new funding, the Investment Agricultural Foundation is administering $1.5 million, and the B.C. Agriculture Council will administer $500 000.

The provincial government has not yet released the application for the new funding program. An industry advisory committee consisting of industry representatives will review submitted applications. Final approval of applications will be conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture, the B.C. Agriculture Council and the Investment Agriculture Foundation of B.C.

Check out Tia Low’s article on local food delivery