LETTER: Support agriculture sector

City councils have consistently made decisions that erode the agriculture production base

Re: Our jobs picture needs changing

Mark Rushton’s column in the July 9 edition of The News asks what the city is doing to attract business. The underlying question is really why would a business locate in Abbotsford? While tas rates and red tape can be factors, businesses locate in the most strategic location. What business would gain a strategic advantage by locating here?

Rushton notes agriculture provides economic stability in Abbotsford. A recent chamber of commerce study found that agriculture supports 25 per cent of the private sector jobs in Abbotsford. And jobs in agriculture have changed. They are no longer minimum wage jobs. Some farms offer benefits and flexible hours to attract retain employees.

Agriculture is here because it has a strategic advantage – great climate, great soils, available water. It has a strategic advantage over agriculture in other areas. And the support services follow the production base. Agri-industrial is the only industrial sector that has continued to grow in Abbotsford.

Despite this, over the past 15 years, city councils have consistently made decisions that erode the agriculture production base and send confusing messages to the agriculture value-added and processing  sectors. Perhaps the first step in a new jobs strategy for Abbotsford would be for the city to make decisions that support the continued growth of the one sector that has a strategic advantage by locating here.

Mark Robbins

Abbotsford