But climate limits Canadian agriculture in ways that aren’t going away, he cautions.
“Clearly, we’re not going to start growing almond trees here.”
“We’re also not going to start growing fresh fruits and vegetables outdoors in the winter. So those opportunities aren’t there. Can the greenhouse sector replace some of that product? Certainly.”
Farming in B.C. could expand, though the province has unique land constraints, says Rhonda Driediger, a Langley-area berry grower and packer.
“There’s so much pressure on the land here, making it so high-priced, that it’s difficult,” she explains.
“More land would go into production, but it would probably be with existing farmers. They would be the ones that would afford it. That’s another problem: you can’t expect two 25-year-olds to be married and having their first kids and go out and buy a 40-acre, or even a 10-acre parcel. It’s just prohibitive.”
“There are movements out there to get land that’s fallow right now back into production. There’s a huge cost to that, too.”
Driediger is on the board of the B.C. Agriculture Council.
A long-term drought in California could spur an increase in B.C. berry production, she predicts.
“Berries are probably the easiest. Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries. They have a defined market. If you’re growing them you can sell them easily.”
“It’s not going to mean anything for farmers on the prairies,” Wales says. “It’s not going to mean anything for large-scale grain production. Canola, wheat, barley, the prairie crops, it’s not going to change anything for them.”
Driediger is eying an East Asian market for B.C. blueberries:
“China has a massive need for clean, healthy food. The Chinese public, especially the middle class, is demanding food that is not contaminated. Even if it isn’t contaminated, they want to be sure that it is not contaminated.”
(Four out of five of California’s blueberry export destinations are East Asian countries: the other one is Canada.)
Wales and Driediger agree that a shift away from food production in California would happen slowly:
“If there was a total collapse it wouldn’t happen overnight - it would be gradual,” Wales says. “You will see it coming.”http://globalnews.ca/news/2031246/after-california-what-the-states-water-crisis-means-for-canadas-food-security/