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Senate committee on agriculture drops by Kelowna

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Senate Committee on agriculture drops by Kelowna – Oct 31, 2018

A handful of senators arrived at a Kelowna farm today on a giant bus. They’re on a cross-country tour to find ways to attract more young people to farming and help them succeed.

Farmer John Hofer says for local farmers to make it, consumers would have to be willing to pay more.

“I’ve crunched the numbers,” said Hofer. “Food prices will have to go up about 15 to 20 per cent for a farmer to actually start making a wage on par with like carpenter, electrician, a welder, a tradesman.”

READ MORE: Oliver farmers seek compensation after livelihoods threatened by salmon restoration initiative

Tessa Wetherill is with an organization called The Young Agrarians. It connects young farmers who can’t afford land and with land owners willing to lease– and it’s working.

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“There’s 20 at least participating in the program right now,” said Wetherill. “But we’re brand new in the Okanagan, we’ve just been running since August. So there’s lots of interest.”

Senator Diane Griffin says the senate’s task is to prepare a report on how to make farming more profitable.

“And if we don’t do that and if Canada doesn’t increase its value added in the agriculture industry,” Griffin said, “it’s going to be very difficult to attract new young farmers into the business.”

READ MORE: U.S.-Canada trade war means more market share, but smaller profits for Canadian farmers

As the senators’ bus left, headed to another stop, some wonder if the visit will produce results.

“To be honest,” said farmer Brenda Paterson, “when I’ve been to meetings with other farmers, at least as local politics go, quite often we leave the meeting and the general concensus is maybe you should just leave us alone let us do what we do — we don’t need reports.”

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