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Jul 29, 2020

Regional Economic Recovery Task Force Seeks Impact Input from Agriculture Sector

The Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission is reaching out to farm operators to learn more about the impacts of COVID-19 to your business. This information will be shared with the Regional Economic Recovery Task Force to guide long-term economic recovery plans. Please review the areas of impact and concern below, and contact the COEDC at info@investkelowna.com to share any additional feedback.

Areas of Concern & Impact

Impacts to the agriculture sector have been varied across enterprise size, product lines and market channels. We've heard from some operators about the below areas of impact and concern.

Demand:

  • Consumer trends rapidly changing with online grocery purchases and rising awareness of local food security.
  • Farmers Markets and on-farm sales have adjusted but the consumer experience is directly impacted by physical distancing protocols and this influences consumer confidence.
  • Loss of tourism support at on-farm agritourism experiences and viticulture tasting rooms is significant.

Operations:

  • As an essential service, operators were able to continue with adjustments to ensure physical distancing and other health guidelines were followed.
  • Operators are deciding how much to produce this season and for which markets (local, domestic, international) and wondering if markets will be there in 3-6 months through harvest.
  • E-commerce or on-farm delivery/pickup was heavily promoted but costly for operators (labour / technology investment) even with supports available.
  • Available funding and government support not adequate: farm operators unable to access due to requirements or over-subscription of funds.

Workforce:

  • Prior to COVID-19, attracting and retaining workers was a top concern for the sector.
  • Labour continues to be significantly impacted by the delays or complications for incoming Temporary Foreign Workers under the Agriculture stream.
  • Many operators in the region are not able to fulfill their labour needs.

For more information, contact the COEDC at (250) 469-6280 or at the email address listed above.