If you're a farm operator, the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission (COEDC) wants to hear from you. In conjunction with the Regional Economic Recovery Task Force, COEDC wants to understand how COVID-19 has impacted those in the agriculture sector.
They are asking operators to review the following areas of impact and concern, then submit any additional feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.