Agriculture advisory group to help create more resilient food supply
June 14, 2022
VICTORIA – Seventeen British Columbians with diverse backgrounds and expertise in food production will help farmers access the latest technology, create more resilient farms and increase sustainability through their roles on the Minister’s Advisory Group on Regenerative Agriculture and Agritech (RAA).
“I want to welcome the new advisory group and thank them for their shared expertise and commitment to strengthening B.C.’s food security,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture and Food. “Together, your ideas will help bring together natural systems of production and agritechnology, and help increase the productivity and profitability of B.C.’s food system and food economy.”
Members of the advisory group include co-chairs Glen Lougheed and Michelle Koski, as well as 15 industry experts, including farmers, academics, industry associations, private-sector representatives and special advisers. Roly Russell, Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Development, will also serve on the group in an ex-officio capacity.
“I am very pleased to have been asked to co-chair such an important initiative,” Koski said. “The RAA will provide a forum to harness and align the incredible opportunities of regenerative agriculture and agritech to ensure B.C. farmers and B.C.’s food supply are profitable, sustainable and resilient.”
Lougheed said: “I’m a big believer in what regenerative farming can do for our environment and how agritech can help scale those practices. The work we will do together will help create a stronger, more resilient food supply.”
Regenerative agriculture practices restore the soil, water and biodiversity of the land, which helps farmland become more resilient to climate change. Agritech brings new and innovative technology into farming to support regenerative practices.
Tea Creek, an Indigenous-led, culturally safe, land-based Indigenous food sovereignty and trades training initiative works with Indigenous people to build confidence, skills and self-esteem to revitalize economic interdependence and food production in communities.
“Regenerative agriculture was and has been practised by Indigenous people and Nations in the Americas for thousands of years,” said Jacob Beaton, owner/operator, Tea Creek and an RAA advisory group member. “I’m excited to bring an Indigenous farming perspective to this important and timely group as we help shape the future of B.C. agriculture.”
The advisory group had its first meeting on Monday, June 13, 2022. The Regenerative Agriculture and Agritech Network (RAAN) is a mandate commitment for the minister of agriculture and food.
- B.C. has more than 150 agritech companies, including in areas of food processing, precision agriculture, bioproducts, food safety/traceability and soil/crop technology.
- B.C. has an agritech land strategy that builds on recommendations made in 2019 by the Food Security Task Force to review land-use planning policies and regulations to ensure B.C.’s agritech sector has a place to grow.
To learn more about B.C. agritech, visit: https://www.britishcolumbia.ca/TradeBCPortal/media/Marketing/bc-agritech-mit.pdf
To learn more about the Regenerative Agriculture and Agritech Network, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/25034
To learn more about the Agritech Concierge program, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/covid-19/economic-recovery/agritech-concierge
For more on Tea Creek, visit: https://www.teacreek.ca/
A backgrounder follows.
Ministry of Agriculture and Food
250 889-5945 (mobile)
Minister’s Advisory Group on RAA
The advisory group will provide strategic advice to government on opportunities to promote innovation, technology adoption and regenerative practices that will increase the productivity, profitability and sustainability of B.C.’s food system.
Advisory group chairs:
- Glen Lougheed, independent adviser: Lougheed is the CEO of Applied Post Incorporated and Blackrail Labs Incorporated. He is the director for Innovate BC Investment and the Code Initiative and holds a master of business administration from Simon Fraser University and a bachelor of business degree from Bishop’s University.
- Michelle Koski, IAFBC: Koski is the CEO of IAFBC and the board co-chair of the Or Shalom Synagogue. Koski holds a master of agriculture economics from the University of British Columbia and a bachelor of science in agriculture from the University of Alberta.
Advisory group members:
- Abra Brynne, independent adviser: Brynne is the executive director of the Central Kootenay Food Policy Council and a policy adviser for FarmFolk CityFolk. She is a board member with the Kootenay Organic Growers Society, Farm Start and a regional adviser with Farmland Advantage. Brynne holds a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Victoria.
- Avi Gill, farmer: Gill is the founder and owner of the Farming Karma Fruit Company, an agri-tourism facility that produces Farming Karma Soda. Gill is also director of the BC Fruit Growers Association and the Kelowna Agri Advisory Committee. Gill holds a bachelor of science in general science and one in pharmacy from UBC.
- Eva-Lena Lang, Organic BC: Lang is the executive director of Organic BC and is a co-founder and volunteer for the North Okanagan Land to table Network and a member of the Regional District of North Okanagan – Agriculture Advisory Committee. Lang holds a master of arts degree from UBC Okanagan, a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Victoria and a community economic development certificate from SFU.
- Heather O’Hara, BC Farmer’s Markets: O’Hara is the executive director of the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets; founder and designer for Miss Filly and Filly Farm; an active member in several equine associations and serves on the Metro Vancouver Agriculture Advisory Committee and the Minister of Agriculture New Entrant Advisory Committee. She holds a master of business administration from the University of Manitoba, a bachelor of arts degree in international relations and native studies and a Bachelor of Environmental Studies from the University of Manitoba.
- Jacob Beaton, farmer: Beaton is the owner of Tea Creek Enterprises, an Indigenous food sovereignty and trades training organization, founder of Copper Moon Communications and a recipient of the BC Achievement Foundations Indigenous Business Award. He was involved on the boards of the Kyan Development Corporation and the Aboriginal Financial Officers Association of BC Advisory Board.
- Jason McNamee, Lucent Biosciences: McNamee is the chief product officer of Lucent Biosciences and adviser for the Conservation for the Oceans Foundation and the Ocean NAMA Network. McNamee holds a bachelor of science from the University of Regina and a geoscientist in training designation from the Association of Professional Engineers of BC.
- John Church, Thomson Rivers University (TRU): Church is an associate professor in natural resource science at TRU, and earned his PhD in agriculture from the University of Alberta.
- Karn Manhas, Terramera: Founder and CEO of Terramera, Manhas holds a juris doctor of law from UBC and a bachelor of science in biology and biotechnology from McGill University.
- Mark Smith, Seaweed: Smith is the founder and CEO of Query Fusion Corporation. He is also a founding member and executive director of the Pacific Seaweed Industry Association. Smith is a board member of the Small Business BC board and holds a credential in business from SFU.
- Michael Bomford, Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU): Bomford is an instructor and department chair in KPU’s faculty of science and horticulture, and KPU’s food security representative on the Richmond Food and Agricultural Advisory Committee. Bomford holds a doctorate in plant and soil science from West Virginia University, a master of pest management from SFU and a bachelor of science (agriculture) in plant science from UBC.
- Mickey Aylard, dairy farmer: Aylard is a fourth-generation dairy farmer and the manager of Brackenhurst Farms. Aylard is a director with the B.C. Dairy Association and is the president of the Island Milk Producers Organization. Aylard holds a degree in business administration and agriculture economics from Washington State University.
- Sean Smukler, UBC: Smukler is the associate dean of land and food systems and an associate professor at UBC; as well as a director of the Delta Farmland and Wildlife trust; adviser of the Equiterre Advisory Committee; member of the BC Agriculture climate Adaptation Research Network and, a member of the Canadian Soil Science Society and the Soil Science Society of America. Smukler holds both a doctor and bachelor of science degree from the University of California and a master of science from the University of Washington.
- Sylvain Moreno, SFU: Moreno is the CEO of Digital Health Circle, the founder and scientific director of the Agritech Innovation Sandbox and an associate professor at the School of Interactive Arts and Technology at SFU. Moreno holds a doctorate and masters in cognitive neuroscience and a bachelor of science from Aix-Marseille University.
- Tristan Banwell, Spray Creek Ranch: Banwell manages Spray Creek Ranch, a regenerative, organic, diversified 200-hectare (500-acre) farm in the Northern St’at’imc Territory near Lillooet. Together with his wife Aubyn, he raises cattle, pigs and poultry on pasture along the Fraser River in the rain shadow of the Coast Mountains. In addition to his volunteer work with Organic BC, Banwell co-founded the Lillooet Agriculture and Food Society, and the BC Small-Scale Meat Producers Association
- Wade Clifton, rancher: Clifton is the owner of the Clifton Ranch in the Similkameen Valley. The ranch has worked toward improving its environmental management practices, while maintaining an economically viable ranching operation. It works in partnership with many groups including the Nature Trust of British Columbia and have received two awards related to their environmental practices: the BC Cattlemen’s Association Ranch Sustainability Award (2019) and the Environmental Stewardship Award (2019) from the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association.
- Roly Russell (ex-officio), MLA for Boundary-Similkameen: Russell serves as the Parliamentary Secretary for Rural and Regional Development to the Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation. Russell has developed local food strategies, co-founded an agricultural society, sat on the board of the Certified Organic Association of BC, and operated his own organic farm. He has a PhD in marine ecology from Oregon State University focused on biodiversity and sustainability, including decision-making under factors of uncertainty, such as climate change.
Work from the advisory group will inform the RAAN network, a network that will help ensure farmers have the support to combine new agritech with regenerative agricultural practices to create a more secure food system. Members are appointed for a one-year term.
Ministry of Agriculture and Food
250 889-5945 (mobile)