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CONTRIBUTION · 28th May 2010
Minister Steve Thomson
At the heart of every great ranching story is a cattleman or cattlewoman. Growing up in rural B.C., I heard many stories about farm life and probably told my fair share to anyone who would listen. Some of the best stories were about ranchers and farmers whose achievements and struggles demonstrated their commitment to agriculture. Years later, this age-old tradition of storytelling remains one of the best ways we can raise awareness about B.C.'s agriculture sectors.

With the increasing interest in buying local, I know British Columbians care about the people who raise and grow their food. That is why on June 2, British Columbia will celebrate the first-ever B.C. Beef Day. I encourage everyone to celebrate in their own way. It can be as simple as buying Canadian beef from a butcher or grocery store. Or go all out and barbeque for family and friends. Every purchase supports B.C.'s hardworking, world-class ranchers.

Ranching is the backbone of many rural communities in B.C. When the cattle industry is going through bad times, other businesses such as veterinarians, equipment dealers and feed stores all suffer similar consequences. With over 4,000 ranches in B.C. contributing $250 million in sales to the provincial economy, many rural communities depend on this industry. I believe we need to tell the deeply compelling stories and adventures of the families and businesses ranching directly supports.

B.C.'s cattle producers are proud of their work and for good reason. Our ranchers raise a first-class product that stands up against any in the world. The international community knows the excellent genetics and stringent safety measures that are used in the rearing of B.C. cattle. This is a reputation we can build on. As export markets reopen, it is crucial the world knows Canada is open for business. That is not to say that we do not continue to focus on supplying British Columbians with high-quality beef.

Over many decades, B.C.'s ranching tradition has grown from the early homesteading families raising beef to feed railway workers to sophisticated, modern business enterprises that are part of a value chain that markets beef globally. Today, ranching is a way of life built upon more than 100 years of raising some of the finest animals in the world. Ranching gave life to entire communities that to this day reflect the values all British Columbians now share: hard work, integrity and innovation.

There are many reasons to choose B.C. beef: environmental sustainability, safety, taste, and support for British Columbians in rural communities. On June 2, I hope people in all corners of the province will join me in celebrating B.C. Beef Day. Some day many years from now, I know my own family will be sitting around a dinner table sharing stories about farm life. And on that dinner table - B.C. beef.