Energy, Mines and Resources Minister Ran Pillai unveiled the 42-page Cultivating Our Future Agriculture Policy highlighting the goal of supporting local food production and availability in the territory during a press conference at Yukon Gardens in Whitehorse on July 15, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Agriculture policy released

Document will guide food production over next decade

An updated Yukon agriculture policy will be used to help guide local food production into the next decade.

Energy, Mines and Resources Minister Ranj Pillai unveiled the 42-page Cultivating Our Future Agriculture Policy July 15, highlighting the goal of supporting local food production and availability in the territory.

“This updated policy supports all communities and aspects of agriculture and local food stores, including food for people, feed for livestock and food distribution and environmental impacts,” Pillai stated during a press conference for the release held at Yukon Gardens.

The document is the fourth agriculture policy for the territory since the first was published in 1982 and comes after three years of work with the Yukon Agricultural Association, First Nations, farmers and the general public.

The opposition Yukon Party took issue with the length of time it took to produce the document, arguing it was orginally expected to be finished last summer.

“While we are happy an updated policy has finally been announced and we will review and discuss it with Yukoners, once again, the Liberal government has failed to meet their own timelines,” Brad Cathers, critic for agriculture, said in a statement.

There are currently 142 farms in the territory. It’s estimated local food production represents about one per cent of food consumption in the territory.

With the new policy over the next 10 years, Pillai sees that one per cent potentially growing to 10 per cent.

“It’s a visionary document,” agricultural association president Sonny Gray said. “What an achievement.”

The goals of the policy focus on identifying and improving land for agriculture, prioritizing agriculture infrastructure, reducing operating costs and offering services to farmers and increasing farming opportunities.

Pillai pointed to giving farmers options to lease land rather than having to buy it as one potential opportunity outlined in the plan in offering more options for farmers.

“It’s about reducing the energy we use as, of course, so much of our food continues comes up the highway,” Pillai said. “But it’s also going to enable individuals who want to get into this sector, policy items that will help us.”

Gray told reporters the agricultural association does not have one set priority outlined in the plan that association members want to see focused on first as efforts to implement the plan begins, but rather noted there’s a balance of initiatives to work on that will move agriculture forward in the territory.

“It’s a broad document,” he said, noting the policy addresses many areas of farming and food production.

“It’s definitely a document that’s going to make most people happy,” he said.

Yukon Gardens owner Lorne Metropolit reflected on his own experience of more than 40 years in food production, noting that Yukon Gardens has seen demand grow in recent years, doubling since the COVID-19 pandemic has it.

“We have never seen such local consumption and demand for locally-grown (goods),” he said.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

Agriculturefood security

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon’s chief medical officer of health, speaks to media at a press conference about COVID-19 in Whitehorse on March 30. The Yukon government announced three new cases of COVID-19 in Watson Lake on Oct. 23. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Three new COVID-19 cases identified in Watson Lake

The Yukon government has identified three locations in town where public exposure may have occurred

Indigenous lobster boats head from the harbour in Saulnierville, N.S. on Oct. 21. Elected officials in the Yukon, including all 19 members of the legislature, are backing the right of Mi’kmaq fishers on the East Coast to launch a moderate livelihood fishery. (Andrew Vaughan/CP)
Yukon legislature passes motion to support Mi’kmaw fishery

“It’s not easy, but it’s also necessary for us to have these very difficult conversations”

A pedestrian passes by an offsales sandwich board along Fourth Avenue in Whitehorse on Oct. 22. NDP MLA Liz Hanson raised concerns Oct. 21 in the legislature about increased hospitalizations due to alcohol consumption that correlate with an extension in the hours alcohol can be sold in the territory. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Alcohol-related hospitalizations rise after off-sales hours extended

Reduced hours for off-sale liquor establishments likely part of Liquor Act spring reforms

Tourism and Culture Minister Jeanie McLean (formerly Dendys) speaks during legislative assembly in Whitehorse on Nov. 27, 2017. The Yukon government has announced $2.8 million in tourism relief funding aimed at businesses in the accommodation sector that have already maxed out existing funds. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Tourism relief funding offers $2.8 million to hotels and overnight accommodations

$15 million in relief funding is planned for the tourism sector over the next three years

The Whitehorse sewage lagoons photographed in 2011. With new regulations for wastewater anticipated to be introduced by the federal government within the next decade, the City of Whitehorse may soon be doing some prep work by looking at exactly what type of pollutants are making their way into the city’s wastewater. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Pondering pollutants

City could spend $70,000 looking at what contaminents are in waste water

The Yukon government is asking for all claims in a lawsuit over the Takhini elk herd be struck by the court. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Yukon government asks for Takhini elk lawsuit to be struck

The Yukon government is asking for all claims in a lawsuit over… Continue reading

The Yukon government has filed a reply to an outfitter’s petition challenging the reduction of its caribou quota to zero. (Yukon News file)
YG replies to outfitter’s legal challenge over caribou quota

The Yukon government has filed a reply to an outfitter’s petition challenging… Continue reading

The Yukon government is encouraging people to get the flu vaccine this year, saying that with COVID-19, it’s “more important than ever.” (Black Press file)
Get flu vaccine, Yukon government urges

The Yukon government is encouraging people to get the flu vaccine this… Continue reading

Benjamin Munn, 12, watches the HPV vaccine in 2013. Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine will be available to all Yukoners up to, and including, age 26. Currently the program is only available to girls ages nine to 18 and boys ages nine to 14. (Dan Bates/Black Press file)
HPV vaccine will be available to Yukoners up to, including, age 26

Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine will be available… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

asdf
COMMENTARY: Me and systemic racism

The view from a place of privilege

asdf
Today’s mailbox: Electricity and air travel

Letters to the editor published Oct. 23, 2020

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Irony versus Climate

Lately it seems like Irony has taken over as Editor-in-Chief at media… Continue reading

Most Read