Lost in the contemporary flood of bad economic news that has spilled over us in recent months has been the state of the ranching industry.
To say that the industry has not fared well in recent year is to be guilty of a gross understatement. Cattle ranchers and the larger structures that support them have experienced a lengthy list of setbacks, from concerns about BSE to trade barriers to changes in meat processing regulations.
The industry, as one expert said, could not be in a worse shape than it is today. Some of the reasons behind this state are structural. Local agriculture of which ranching is a part has (unfortunately) lost its societal and cultural importance in a world where consumers can buy meat, fruits and vegetables produced thousands of kilometres away at competitive prices year-round. This reality has improved our diets, but also challenged the primacy of local food producers. Other reasons are more local. They include the unpopular carbon tax, government regulation around meat processing, threats from wildlife, water access and environmental concerns. The provincial government has (after much lobbying) recognized some of these concerns in establishing a task force designed to assist the ailing industry.
Whether this task force will be able to address this myriad of issues is an open question. We certainly applaud the government’s decision to confront the threats facing the industry. We also encourage locals to participate in this process.
– Penticton Western News