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Province of British Columbia
NEWS RELEASE
For Immediate Release
2019AGRI0082-001431
July 11, 2019
Ministry of Agriculture
Ministry of Jobs, Trade and Technology
Task force to boost B.C. agriculture through tech, innovation

SURREY – The Province has created the Food Security Task Force to find new ways to use technology and innovation to strengthen B.C.'s agriculture sector and grow the economy by helping farmers farm and processors become more productive, now and in the future.

“By helping farmers put more B.C. farmland into production, our government is supporting the province’s agricultural industry and strengthening food security for all British Columbians,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture. “We are always looking for new ideas as we continue to help farmers produce more, grow new crops and develop thriving businesses. I know the task force will identify further innovations to support the sector and I’m looking forward to receiving their recommendations.”

The three-member task force, led by Peter Dhillon, chair, with Arvind Gupta and Lenore Newman as members, will assess and provide strategic advice on opportunities to:

  • apply agri-technologies to help farmers and producers enhance productivity, increase economic competitiveness and sustainability, reduce waste and help make sure B.C. farmers are growing the food needed to meet demand;
  • expand the emerging agritech industry in B.C. as a standalone economic sector to produce technologies that will be in demand globally;
  • support the objectives of CleanBC, both through the adoption of technologies and practices that will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and
  • increase access to fresh, healthy food and support local economies in communities throughout B.C. 

“This task force will evaluate ways of innovating in this important sector with the goal of improving access to quality, healthy food for everyone,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology. “It will also make recommendations to support our agritech companies as they scale up and anchor their operations here at home, creating clean jobs for British Columbians and contributing to a sustainable economy for the future.”

Raghwa Gopal, president and CEO, Innovate BC, will participate on an invited basis as an ex-officio member of the Food Security Task Force.

“B.C. has an opportunity to be the best in the world when it comes to innovation in our agricultural sector,” said Peter Dhillon. “At a time when climate change and technology are rapidly changing how we grow food, it is more important than ever that we make sure B.C.’s agritech sector has the support it needs to thrive. On behalf of the task force, we look forward to preparing a report for the government on how B.C. can help make that happen.”

The task force will speak with stakeholder groups and provide a final report to the ministers of Agriculture and Jobs, Trade and Technology by Dec. 31, 2019.

The public is invited to provide comments online: https://engage.gov.bc.ca/foodsecuritytaskforce/ 

Quick Fact:

  • The 2019 speech from the throne mentioned the B.C. government would launch a food security task force to consider how B.C. can harness new technologies and innovation to produce more food, jobs and prosperity, while reducing waste.

A backgrounder, with biographies of the task force members, follows.

 
Contacts:
 
Robert Boelens
Ministry of Agriculture
Communications
250 356-1674
 
Lori Cascaden
Ministry of Jobs, Trade and Technology
Communications
778 698-2892
 
Province of British Columbia
BACKGROUNDER
For Immediate Release
2019AGRI0082-001431
July 11, 2019
Ministry of Agriculture
Ministry of Jobs, Trade and Technology
Food Security Task Force members

Peter Dhillon, chair

Peter Dhillon is active in several business enterprises, including serving as the CEO of the Richberry Group of Companies, an agribusiness enterprise with operations in British Columbia and Quebec.

The Richberry Group consists of cranberry companies, which combined, are one of Ocean Spray Cranberries Ltd.’s largest shareholders and suppliers. Dhillon is chairman of the board of directors of Ocean Spray Cranberries Ltd. He is the youngest and the first Canadian to hold this position. Most recently, Dhillon was appointed to the board of directors of the Bank of Canada. 

Dhillon is known for giving back to the community with his philanthropic and charitable service, which spans a wide variety of areas, including health care, child humanitarian support, education and sport. In 2009, he was honoured with the Order of British Columbia in recognition of his achievements and services. Recently, in a partnership with the University of British Columbia’s Sauder school of business, the Peter P. Dhillon centre for business ethics was established. 

In addition to his current business and philanthropic activities, Dhillon has held many other board positions, including:

  • vice-chairman, British Columbia Ferry Corporation;
  • vice-chairman, Agriculture Land Commission, which oversees all agriculture lands in British Columbia;
  • board director, Canada Customs and Revenue Agency;
  • board director, Vancouver Airport Authority;
  • board governor, Simon Fraser University;
  • board director, VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation;
  • board director, Seacor Environmental; and
  • board director, Canwel Building Materials.

Lenore Newman

Lenore Newman is the director of the Food and Agriculture Institute at the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) where she holds a Canada Research Chair in food security and environment. She is an associate professor in the department of geography and the environment at UFV and a member of the Royal Society of Canada's New College of Scholars.

Newman researches agricultural land-use policy, bioengineering in the food system, and the role of food and agriculture in the creation of place. Newman sat on the B.C. Minister of Agriculture’s Advisory Committee on Revitalizing the Agricultural Land Reserve and regularly speaks to government and community groups.

She has published over 40 academic journal articles and book chapters, and her opinion pieces on the future of farmland use and other food-related issues have been published in the Globe and Mail, Vancouver Sun and Georgia Straight.

Her first book, Speaking in Cod Tongues, was published to wide acclaim in January 2017 and won a Saskatchewan Book Award. Her second book, Lost Feast, will be published by ECW Press in 2019. She holds a PhD in environmental studies from Toronto’s York University and lives in Vancouver. 

Arvind Gupta

Arvind Gupta is a professor of computer science at the University of Toronto and at the University of British Columbia (UBC). He has served as president and vice-chancellor of UBC, and as the CEO and scientific director of Mitacs Inc.

Gupta has published extensively on computational genomics and national innovation, and industrial strategies. As the founder and CEO of Mitacs Inc., Gupta achieved international success for interweaving graduate education with business and socio-economic needs by bringing together 60 universities with more than 1,000 industrial partners.

He serves as a regular contributor to research, innovation and advanced skills policies, with more than 100 national and international appearances. He is a senior fellow of the Brookfield Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and serves on the boards of the India-Canada Research Centre of Excellence, the Banff International Research Station, the Fields Institute as chair, the Canadian Statistical Society Institute as vice-chair, Palette Inc. as chair, and the Structural Innovation and Monitoring Technologies Resource Centre.

He obtained his B.Sc. from McMaster University, and his M.Sc. and PhD from the University of Toronto.

 
Contacts:
 
Robert Boelens
Ministry of Agriculture
Communications
250 356-1674
 
Lori Cascaden
Ministry of Jobs, Trade and Technology
Communications
778 698-2892
 
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