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AUGUST 8, 2013 - The Shuswap Agriculture Strategy is underway as the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) has hired Sustainable Solutions Group as the consultant who will guide the development of the strategy. The consultants are now leading the project and have met with the Shuswap Agriculture Strategy Steering Committee, says Shuswap Economic Development Officer Robyn Cyr. They are now collecting data, doing research on the agriculture sector around the Shuswap, and the next step will be public consultation in early September. The goal of the Shuswap Agriculture Strategy project is to support the growth of the agriculture sector of the Shuswap region in order to create a sustainable agriculture economy, protection of agriculturally capable land, and to integrate existing economic and land use policies into future strategic plans that are approved by the CSRD Board. There are really two driving issues here, says CSRD Development Services Manager Gerald Christie, economic development and land-use - the health of the agricultural community relies on both. This has been a joint project of two departments within the CSRD, Shuswap Economic Development and Development Services, and the Salmon Arm Economic Development Society. This Strategy will provide some policy guidance that the Regional District will incorporate into our Electoral Areas Official Community Plans. Funding for the project has come from a grant from Investment Agriculture Foundation, the CSRD, and Salmon Arm Economic Development. Agriculture has always been a core industry around the Shuswap. As an industry, it is one of the largest employers in the region and puts a lot of money into the community, says Ms. Cyr. Like other sectors, it is facing new challenges and barriers. Local farmers and members of the agricultural community voiced their concerns about issues such as the increased cost of getting their goods to market, the need for improved waste product disposal, and environmental stewardship. The Strategy is being developed to address those concerns and to ensure that the regions agricultural industry continues to grow and flourish over the long term.

The consultant, Sustainable Solutions Group, will be setting up a website to invite community comment and input. There will be several community meetings throughout the process which will be advertised in the local media. We have a good cross section of the industry represented in our Shuswap Agriculture Strategy Steering Committee, including farmers in the dairy, poultry, and organic vegetable sectors as well as farm managers, winery owners and cattle ranchers. development of this Agriculture Strategy, says Ms. Cyr. The project will be completed in March 2014 and the Shuswap Agricultural Strategy will be presented to the CSRD Board in the early spring. -30We are hoping to receive more

input from the agricultural community through our community consultation process during the

For more information call Economic Development Officer Robyn Cyr at 250-833-5928 or Development Services Manager Gerald Christie at 250-833-5919