Agriculture generates one out of every five jobs in Abbotsford and has a direct economic impact of $1.8 billion annually. With that many eggs in one basket, the City of Abbotsford wanted to develop an agriculture strategy to drive the future growth of this vital industry.

“Abbotsford has a truly fundamental connection with agriculture, both as a viable economic enterprise and as a defining element of our culture and way of life,” says Mayor Bruce Banman.

Through IAF funding, a strategy development project was launched in 2009 under the guidance of Abbotsford’s Agriculture Advisory Committee and the BC Ministry of Agriculture.

The first phase involved background research, mapping and the development of a land use inventory. This then formed part of an extensive profile of agriculture within the community.

Digging up input from the agriculture sector and the broader community was next. Public consultations involved interviews with community groups and industry stakeholders, seven workshops with agriculture and processing sectors and four neighbourhood meetings.

Over the following months, all of the recommendations were distilled into an issues and opportunities paper and additional feedback was sought on priorities, culminating in a draft strategy.

Each of the specifics of the strategy went through an extensive review before the strategy was presented to council and approved in May 2011.

“Abbotsford’s Agriculture Strategy will help ensure that agriculture continues to prosper and grow by increasing productive farmland for food production, protecting the agricultural land base and attracting agricultural innovation and public support for this valued resource,” adds Mayor Banman.

With a robust new strategy in place, attention has now turned to taking action on the highest priorities.

The city is already working on an agri-industrial study that will look at policy options for enhancing value-added opportunities. A rural area plan will start next year. Other groups, such as the University of the Fraser Valley, are leading on some of the other priorities identified.

“Now we have to sink our teeth into some of the key issues Abbotsford faces and use this strategy as a guide,” explains Marcus Janzen, a greenhouse grower who chairs the Advisory Committee. “That’s a good thing for Abbotsford, the citizens of Abbotsford and especially its farmers.”

Funding: $30,479 provided through former federal adaptation programming. (A0577)