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Support for agriculture lacking: NDP MLA

Richmond's metal recyclers poised to take advantage of province's 'gateway' initiatives: Reid

A day off in February and televising the trials of those involved with the Stanley Cup riot garnered the most water cooler chatter after yesterday's throne speech.

But where's the beef - not to mention potatoes and veg?

NDP MLA Jenny Kwan noted there was remarkably little in the speech to support Richmond's agriculture industry.

"With agriculture being such an important issue in Richmond, it was very disappointing that there was no mention of the Agriculture Land Reserve or the Buy BC program."

And if creating jobs is a priority for this Liberal government, she added, then why was there no mention of supporting agriculture jobs?

Although agriculture is one of the largest employers in the province, a good percentage of those employed are foreign workers.

Agriculture may not have been mentioned specifically, however Richmond East MLA Linda Reid argued that the Liberal government has poured millions of dollars into dealing with Richmond's land drainage system over the years, which has been critical for the success of farming.

Reid also noted that, on the point of jobs, Richmond is particularly well poised to take advantage of her government's "gateway" initiatives, which encourage trade with China and India.

"Recycled metals are one of the largest resources we export to China." With Richmond home to some of the largest metal recycling plants in B.C., opportunities are vast, said Reid.

"We intend to realize that opportunity every chance we can get."

Meanwhile, back on the farm, Bill Zylmans took a break from digging up potatoes as he waited for "the tire guy" to fix a flat on his machine.

Zylmans, a celebrity in Richmond's farming circle (such as it is) says both politicians have a point in regards to farming.

Money into drainage has been important and the Nelson Road Interchange, which recently opened to take trucks off the main highway, has been a big help to farming in East Richmond, he said.

At the same time, Zylmans said farming in this province is in crises and not enough people (politicians or consumers) seem to know it.

Consumers need to be educated, and incentives need to be provided to make the industry viable.

Zylmans wasn't particularly disappointed with the throne speech - such were his expectations. Although he was hoping for some compensation for the HST. The tax was generally hated, but it worked well from an accounting perspective for farmers.

He's hoping the government will continue to devise a system that will keep those efficiencies.

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