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Ag service board's strategic plan includes protecting riparian areas

Mountain View County board's plan includes focus on airshed, watershed, vegetation along roadsides

MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY - The county’s agricultural service board (ASB) has reviewed an updated strategic plan that provides high level goals and objectives of the board, including supporting producers in enhancing and conserving riparian and sensitive upland areas.

The update came during the board’s March 21 regularly scheduled meeting, with Jane Fulton, assistant director of legislative, community and agriculture services, making a presentation on the updated plan.

The ASB is made up of county councillors and appointed public members. It advises the province and county on agriculture issues and concerns.

“The strategic plan focuses the effort of the ASB and provides an effective process to align short-term decisions with long-term goals,” said Fulton. “The goals will be determined once the revised council strategic plan is reviewed. A review of the strategic objectives will be completed to ensure they meet ASB’s goals.”

The updated plan has been made more concise than previous versions at the direction of the board, removing references that were previously specific to grant applications.

“We’ve gone from 44 pages to eight pages, which is about where a strategic business plan should be,” she said. 

The updated plan sets out the general role of the ASB in four main categories: policy and administration; program development and review; program promotion and adverting; and support for agriculture communities.

Specifically, the support for agriculture communities section of the plans calls to “promote, enhance and protect viable and sustainable agriculture with a view to improve the economic viability of the agriculture producers by promoting positive relationships between agriculture producers and rural residents, and developing stronger partnerships between organizations with similar mandates.”

The plan also includes updated strategic goals: protection of the viability of agriculture; support sustainable agriculture; assist to provide safe road networks in support of agriculture and the rural population; and promote and support agriculture in the rural community.

The support sustainable agriculture priority encourages best management practices in support of sustainable agriculture by limiting the impact on natural ecosystems, including assisting producers in identifying environmental risks and developing plans to mitigate them.

It also calls for “support of producers in enhancing and conserving riparian and sensitive upland area” and providing “education and awareness to improve soil health, increases biodiversity, and support healthy watershed and clean airshed.”

Regarding providing a safe road network, the priorities include roadside management to “control and prevent establishment of invasive plants on transportation corridors, right of ways, on provincial highways and municipal owned lands” and “maintain vegetation for safe roads and protect the integrity of our road infrastructure.”

Regarding promoting and supporting agriculture in the rural community, the priority includes providing information on agriculture practices and best management practices for acreage and helping new and potential residents to “understand what Mountain View County has to offer and what some of the expectations and challenges of living in our agricultural community are.”

Board members accepted the updated strategic plan as information.

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