Postmaster, Please return Undeliverable labels to: Country Life in BC 36 Dale Road Enderby, BC V0E 1V4CANADA POSTES POST CANADA Postage paid Port payé Publications Mail Post-Publications 40012122Vol. 109 No. 2The agricultural news source in British Columbia since 1915 FEBRUARY 2023 | Vol. 109 No. 2DAIRY Wild weather continues to hammer dairies 9 POULTRY Growers contest compensation formula for AI 13 PROCESSING Farmgate abattoirs shut out of insurance 21PETER MITHAM GIBSONS – Nearly a year after a deadline for existing well owners to apply for groundwater licences and preserve their historic water rights, Sunshine Coast farms are getting a taste of what the future could hold for thousands of groundwater users across BC. Raquel Kolof was in the midst of processing animals at her on-farm abattoir January 19 when a natural resources ocer from the BC Ministry of Forests pulled up in full uniform, including bullet-proof vest, and armed. The ocer stated he was investigating a complaint about a new well and unauthorized groundwater use. While the well was new according to denitions set by the province – any well whose rst use occurred after February 29, 2016 – Kolof had followed all the rules when the well was drilled in 2019. “The $250 licence fee was processed on May 27, 2021 and I received emails with the completed application and receipt,” she says. “I was told it could take approximately four years to complete the licence process.” In the meantime, she understood that she could use the water as outlined in her application. Kolof’s is one of thousands of licence applications that have yet to receive approval from the province. Kolof is not alone. The ocer also visited another farm. It had drilled a well but had not yet applied for a The irrigation lines at Jamieson Creek Ranch in Kamloops disappear into fog as cold, snowy weather gave way to unusually mild, rainy conditions in January. Meanwhile, a Level 5 drought continues in the Peace. See story, page 17. DAKOTA ROBERTSON | WILD MANE PHOTOSGroundwater showdownPETER MITHAM ABBOTSFORD – A growing number of dairy farms in the Fraser Valley are considering selling as narrow margins get tighter and high nancing costs complicate succession plans. “The dairy [sector] is particularly challenged,” says Karen Taylor, director of corporate nance, agriculture and agribusiness with BMO Financial Group in Abbotsford, who addressed a workshop Dairy farmers on the brinkTight margins, high financing costs fuel talk of salesGhostedForage Seed1-800-661-4559Produced by & available atDairy farmers uProvince steps up u
2 | FEBRUARY 2023 COUNTRY LIFE IN BClicence or drawn water. The owner was told drawing water was illegal until a licence was approved, a process that continues to take years. Water has been a contentious issue on the Sunshine Coast, where the regional district introduced Level 4 restrictions on users at the end of August. The region was experiencing a severe drought that saw watering restrictions last through December 15. The region’s farms were subject to watering restrictions like everyone else. The Sunshine Coast was one of the few regions to see stringent restrictions put in place last year. Indeed, the province declared fewer watershed closures last year than in 2021, preventing groundwater users from being caught out. But well owners across the province face greater scrutiny as water woes deepen. Thousands of owners of existing wells who didn’t register by last year’s March 1 deadline have lost their historic water rights. The province expected to register and licence more than 20,000 existing wells by the deadline, but only 7,600 applications were received. Those who submitted applications were able to continue drawing water, and would be billed for usage back to 2016. But many users continue to draw water, either ignorant of the licensing requirement or in outright deance of the new regime. According to the BC Ministry of Forests, compliance and enforcement eorts aimed at education rather than a massive enforcement sweep. “We are not going to be unreasonable with those who are not in compliance,” the ministry told Country Life in BC last year. “But we are serious about the need of users getting this done.” Kolof’s experience underscores just how seriously the province takes reports of unauthorized groundwater use. But it also troubles her that no eort seemed to be made to check the status of her groundwater licence application. “I was mystied why the ocer could not check on my groundwater licence status beforehand. Surely that information is accessible,” she says. Kolof has raised her concerns with the BC Ministry of Agriculture and Food. While the BC Agriculture Council has issued guidance to livestock farmers who may be subject to visits from the BC SPCA on animal welfare issues, no such guidance has been requested or drafted related to groundwater investigations. The BC Ministry of Forests was not able to provide a comment by deadline. the Centre for Organizational Governance in Agriculture hosted, January 17. “Some of them are going to sell the farm because they can’t aord that debt level, or they minimize their farm size a little bit.” According to industry sources, between 30 and 40 of the 600 dairy farms in BC are feeling signicant nancial pressure. While dairying is built on land and quota – two relatively solid assets – a dramatic rise in interest rates over the past year has made it more dicult to service the debt they’ve been able to take on. “[We’re] happy to lend to dairy farmers because they have stable cash ow and high-quality collateral,” says Taylor, who works with some of the Fraser Valley’s larger dairies. “But in some cases the debt is signicant, and if you amortize all of that debt at a 6% or 7% interest, there potentially could be a problem.” Cash ow is key, she says. Grain and oilseed crops have generated strong cash ows for Prairie growers, according to Farm Credit Canada, supporting the expansion of their operations and higher farmland values. But the higher cost of grain has boosted feed prices in BC, squeezing the margins of livestock producers. Worse, the price of milk has not kept pace with the costs facing dairy farmers. This has made it harder to meet expenses, and service debt. “We have to make sure the farm can cash-ow at higher interest rates,” says Taylor. “The dairy sector in particular over the next 12 months … we’re denitely guring out what are we going to do, and what are we going to do going forward. How long is this increase going to last?” The keynote presenter at the workshop was BMO senior economist Robert Kavcic, who describes the dramatic shift in interest rates over the past year as a generational event that will last until 2024. “Rate cuts are going to start to be a 2024 story, simply because I think policymakers want to err on the side of leaving rates higher for longer and making sure they crack that ination nut rather than backing o too soon,” he explains. Kavcic expects interest rates to settle back into the 2% to 3% range once the current surge is over. The Bank of Canada policy rate at press time was 4.25%, up from 0.25% a year ago. A further hike was anticipated January 25, with commercial loans running about two percentage points higher. Many farms have yet to feel the real pain from higher borrowing costs, however, as the rates primarily aect variable-rate nancings as well as new debt. This sets up 2023 as a year of pain for highly leveraged operations. “The high rates haven’t even funnelled through the system yet,” says Taylor. “This is just starting.” Some older farmers are taking note, however, and changing up their succession plans. Rising capital costs are prompting some to consider selling rather than hand the farm onto a new generation, which would be saddled with higher costs in a low-margin environment. “That is being discussed because now, if your facilities are old (and sometimes with succession planning that is the case, that facilities need to be rebuilt), now you’re talking about 6% money rather than 3% money,” Taylor says. “If someone takes over the farm, they’re also thinking about where can I grow, how do I buy the neighbour now that I have to pay 6% interest versus 3% interest? … The interest rate factor is denitely impacting succession planning conversations.” But sales don’t necessarily need to lead to consolidation. While dairy farms in BC have doubled in size over the past 20 years and now average 131 head per farm, they haven’t necessarily become more ecient. BMO recently surveyed 68 of its clients and found that smaller farms sometimes perform better “It wasn’t all the big farms that were in the top,” says Taylor. “Sometimes you can get too big and have ineciencies because of that.” BC Dairy Association is surveying its members to better understand their operating environment. “We have heard numerous anecdotal stories about dairy farmers struggling to make ends meet despite recent wholesale rate increases, which don’t match increasing costs,” the association said in a statement. 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COUNTRY LIFE IN BC FEBRUARY 2023 | 3Transition plans are not off-limits for older generations anymoreTRACEY FREDRICKSON STRATFORD, ONTARIO – A recent presentation by Farm Credit Canada provided insight into the process of farm transition – a sometimes prickly experience when the people involved lack the skills to understand each other and communicate effectively. The terms ‘farm succession’ and ‘farm transition’ are often thought to mean the same thing. In fact, a succession plan is a continuous process to ensure a business runs smoothly after key stakeholders move on to new opportunities, retire or pass away. A transition plan is part of the succession planning process that focusses on specific strategies to transfer ownership, management and control of the business to a successor. “When I sit down with a family and ask what they are doing for development and training, usually all eyes turn to the younger generation in the room for a response,” says Andrea de Groot, a business advisor with FCC. “The reality is that the whole family is going to assume a different role on the farm with the transition and each team member needs to be an active participant.” De Groot was joined by fellow FCC business advisor Annessa Good and Ian Cubitt, a chartered professional accountant and farm business transition specialist. FCC research identifies several shifts that have changed the environment today’s farms face during a transition. Farm operations tend to be larger than in the past, for example, adding complexity to the transition process. But families are also starting to talk about succession planning earlier than in the past, and the senior generation is more likely to recognize the need to develop mentoring skills to help the next generation on board. “In succession lingo, there are expanders, people who want to move forward quickly and are almost aggressive about accomplishing their vision, and conservers, those who want to grow but take minimal risks such as going into debt to reach their goals,” says Cubitt. “Various combinations of these roles can exist within the team. When there are several personalities involved in the transition, it’s essential to know what makes each other tick. If we don’t understand someone, we may act on assumptions, causing the other to overreact.” Personality assessments can help team members understand what motivates the people they’re working with, but they’re best done with the help of a professional trained to interpret the results, Cubitt says. Cubitt often uses two resources in tandem: the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), which identifies psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions, and the Birkman Method, which maps out personality data including strengths, social expectations, stress behaviours and occupational interests. “When it comes to the technical aspects of farm ownership, all team members have a responsibility to be informed and accountable,” Cubitt adds. “If details about the transition aren’t clear, the transition process stalls. The reality is that when the baton is passed to a lawyer or accountant, the team is still working with them. This inspires leadership and action within the team.” A good way to prepare for a successful transition is to make a list of tasks that each team member will ultimately be responsible for over a three-to-six-month period. In a large farm business, it is common to have more than 500 tasks and decisions. Preparing a personal net worth statement and a cost-of-living checklist as well as taking a financial management course can also help participants come to the table prepared. An area that is often overlooked is who will be on the team helping the family be healthy so it can make the best business decisions possible while nurturing family relationships. Having grown up on a farm, Cubitt know the dynamics and urgency associated with many aspects of farm management. “A farmer can end up being in constant stress and survival mode, which affects their decision-making as well as their health,” he points out. “It can help to write a positive statement to yourself when making decisions such as ‘The best thing for our business/the land/the livestock etc. is for me to be healthy.’ It’s like being in an airplane – you need to put your own oxygen mask on before you look after others.” A good transition plan can actually contribute to the well-being of those involved. “Transition planning, like many areas of life, is not easy,” Cubitt says, “but life becomes more meaningful when we deal with challenges and see progress.” FCC business advisor Annessa Good, second from left, and family members Brett, Peggy and Merle are working together on a transition plan for the family’s farm. 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Publication Mail Agreement: 0399159 . GST Reg. No. 86878 7375 . Subscriptions: $2/issue . $18.90/year . $33.60/2 years . $37.80/3 years incl GSTThe agricultural news source in British Columbia since 1915 Vol.109 No. 2 . FEBRUARY 2023Published monthly by Country Life 2000 Ltd. www.countrylifeinbc.comPublisher Cathy Glover 604-328-3814 . email@example.com Editor Emeritus David Schmidt Associate Editor Peter Mitham firstname.lastname@example.org Advertising Sales & Marketing Cathy Glover email@example.com Production Designer Tina Rezansoff Be still my heart, PW!Premier David Eby shued the deck and dealt British Columbians a fresh hand of cabinet ministers on December 7. New faces turned up in the boss’s chair in all but six ministries. In Agriculture and Food, veteran Lana Popham was replaced by Abbotsford-Mission MLA Pam Alexis. All of the ministers and parliamentary secretaries arrived with marching orders in hand: a mandate letter from Eby outlining his government’s political priorities and conduct expectations. Each minister is on the same page in these regards but also received instruction specic to their ministry. In agriculture’s case, Eby points out that it is common knowledge there cannot be a secure food supply or food cost management if farmers are not looked after and the land base used wisely. He notes that farmers, ranchers and seafood producers are seeing rising input costs and the eects of climate change. His specic instructions are: “As Minister, your job will be to support farmers, ranchers, and seafood producers in the critical work they do for all of us, to ensure food security for British Columbians by establishing policies to use our agricultural land wisely, increase production, and add processing capacity.” (That sound you hear is my high school English teacher rolling in his grave.) While she is at it, Minister Alexis is also expected to build exports, promote clean, safe, high-quality food produced in BC, create jobs, grow the economy sustainably and support our communities and our neighbours. That, it seems, is not the half of it. The minister is also expected to “prioritize making progress on” another whole page of specic outcomes. This is a long, ambitious and well-intended agenda, one that will be dicult for the government or Minister Alexis to realize without fully understanding where we are and where we are heading. In the minister’s mandate letter, Premier Eby makes assumptions about what every British Columbian knows about the linkage between food supply and farmers. I doubt if there are very many British Columbians, including politicians, who know much at all about “their” farmers. The 2021 Census of Agriculture provides some interesting insight. About 99% of all farms in Canada report having o-farm income. This isn’t necessarily concerning until you consider that o-farm income accounted for almost 75 cents of every dollar earned by BC farm families in 2019. The number of BC farmers declined by 9.6% between 2016 and 2021 and the area of farmed land fell 11.8%. More than 66% of farmers are over 55 years of age and only 5.1% are under 35. There are 15,841 farms in BC and 40% of them have gross earnings under $10,000 while 66% gross less than $50,000. One in every 220 British Columbians is a farm or ranch operator. They are politically irrelevant. So, who is the average BC farmer? Someone 57.8 years old, likely struggling to reach a gross income of $50,000, and relying on a non-farm source of money to make it all work. Typically, someone without a written succession plan. Is it any wonder? According to the minister’s mandate letter: “Our provincial commitment to food and the people who produce it has never been more important.” The letter also demands the ministry’s priorities respect the government’s overall strategic plan. I don’t see anything that is agriculture-specic in the government’s stated priorities, although the last one calls for “a sustainable, clean, secure, and fair economy.” If government is really committed to food and those who produce it, and the ALR, the minister might consider that there’s nothing sustainable or secure, or even fair, about a food system relying on the “average” farmers and ranchers detailed above. In all likelihood, it is fair to say that half of all BC farm and ranch operators are, or soon will be, old age pensioners. And while that circumstance might aord them a measure of income security, it is unreasonable to expect them to spend it to keep growing food as they grow old. Bob Collins raises beef cattle and grows produce on his farm in the Alberni Valley. We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada.4 | FEBRUARY 2023 COUNTRY LIFE IN BCThe great repricingHistorians recognize that some centuries last longer than others. Some speak of the long 20th century, a period of technological innovation that ran from 1870 through to 2010. Others refer to the short 20th century as having run from 1914 through to 1991 and the collapse of the Soviet Union. Whatever the case, the past three years have denitely marked the end of what was and stamped their imprint on the 21st century. The children who experienced the pandemic will carry its memories late into this century and maybe beyond, sharing the stories with their grandchildren and great-grandchildren – assuming some new catastrophe doesn’t deal them a worse hand. And yet, it too will be part of the century’s story. But farmers deal with the here and now, and plenty of unprecedented events are changing the game for agriculture. The Great Recession of 2007-2009 was the prelude to the longest bull market in history, ending only with the COVID-19 pandemic, an unprecedented shut down amid unprecedented wildres and drought up and down the West Coast. Policymakers at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland saw the pandemic as an opportunity for a “Great Reset” globally, though workers were more inclined to a Great Resignation that’s left farmers even more strapped for labour. Now, the greatest increase in ination and – in turn – interest rates in a generation is leading to what could well be called the Great Repricing. Rising input costs are unsustainable for growers unless there’s a corresponding increase in what they receive for their produce. Government is asking growers to do more to address climate change, too, mandating changes in growing practices that potentially limit productivity. Diseases such as avian inuenza and extreme weather events are also reducing farm output, meaning farmers see less for the same amount of eort (and many times more stress). Retailers, whose buying practices have far more clout than those of any one well-meaning consumer, are also demanding more from growers in a competitive market. But as dairy and broiler farmers, among others, are making clear, more can’t be asked unless more is given. By early February, the average Canadian will have earned enough to cover their annual food bill, even as retail costs rise. While many of us want to save, what if we knew our food dollar was going directly to farmers? Would we be willing to pay more? Could retailers see their way to give producers more? Higher costs need to be met with higher remuneration. The average person may not like it, but many also demand a living wage, now approaching $25 an hour in Metro Vancouver. Don’t farmers deserve the same? Government priorities are asking a lot Back 40 BOB COLLINS
Does farming need to be a full-time job?BC’s food security depends on everyone growing togetherCOUNTRY LIFE IN BC FEBRUARY 2023 | 5the value of contributions to provincial food security. A local researcher mentioned that she’d overheard ag educators telling students – potential farmers – not to bother if they couldn’t farm full-time. They wouldn’t be real farmers. In an era when more food is essential, anyone who is legitimately growing food for others should be considered a farmer. This isn’t the only case of mocking part-time farmers. When I mentioned the topic in our circle of agricultural writers, several examples came forward of farmers who manage signicant volumes of livestock being referred to by larger producers as hobby farmers simply because they also held o-farm jobs. To the Canada Revenue Agency, if more than 50% of your income comes from o-farm sources, you’re a part-time farmer. The 2021 census reports that in 2019, farming income made up just 25% of the total income of BC’s farming families. Of the 23,680 farm operators in BC, more than half (12,670) are paid for non-farm work – they have other jobs in addition to farming. The percentage of farmers is slowly shifting in favour of those for whom farming is just one source of income for them. “Look at the broader employment and economic trends in the world,” says Heather O’Hara, who farmed briey in Ladner while serving as full-time executive director with the BC Association of Farmers Markets, a job she still holds. “People don’t have a job for life. There’s a lot more multiple income streams in a household. It’s not just agriculture.” Rose Morrison, a former instructor at the University of the Fraser Valley, notes that rice producers in Japan are called Sunday farmers because most have full-time jobs during the week and tend to their crop on Sunday. Many who farm livestock in BC do so part-time, from laying hens in Abbotsford to cattle in the Peace. It doesn’t make them any less of a farmer. In the last 20 years, the number of BC farms has declined from 20,290 to 15,841. Acres farmed have also declined by nearly 745,000 acres over the same period. If someone is willing to invest their time to ensure more food to feed the province, they should be supported regardless of how much time that is. In every issue of this paper, there is at least one story referencing the high price of land in BC. There are people who want to farm but don’t have the resources of land or money to do so full-time. Instead, they farm part-time by leasing land, sharing properties with others or using a small area of their own to start producing food. It will take the experienced, interested, fearful; the outspoken, thoughtful, studious; the mono-croppers, hobby farmers, biodynamic farmers. Hell, I don’t care if you’re trying to teach your kohlrabi Spanish. We need you, regardless of how much you’re on the farm. Morrison says she’s seeing a new trend of farmers. “They are adaptive, they are well-educated, they diversify their income stream in many ways,” she says. When Rose and I discussed the concept of full-time farmers, she said it’s a matter of perspective. Her students don’t think farmers need, or even should be, full-time. “They appreciate any farmer who is doing their best to do a good sustainable job at farming and providing food,” she says. In the 15 or so years I’ve been writing about and growing a deeper love aair with agriculture, I’ve noticed three traits that are more essential to a farmer’s success than being on the land full-time: commitment to the production of food; openness to new ideas, options and solutions; and a willingness to share information with others in the industry. I can understand how some part-time farmers might not think of themselves as real farmers. When I was younger and still believed in black and white (which was way easier), I wouldn’t have called myself a writer, a reporter or – Heaven forbid – a journalist, if I weren’t doing it full-time. Now, I urge fellow writers to claim those titles loudly and proudly – full-time or not. The same goes for farmers. If someone has made a choice to grow food for the nourishment of their family, friends and others, should it matter how much time they spend at it, or is it more important that they just keep doing it? Ronda Payne is regular contributor to Country Life in BC who wouldn’t mind joining the ranks of part-time farmers one day. Food security has become a hot topic, even for those outside of agriculture. Recently, discussions about food security have also included food sovereignty. These two conversation points have a lot of overlap but, combined, generally mean that the people who consume food (that’s all of us) need to have aordable access to it and control over the systems that produce and make food available. In the 2020 Food Flows in Metro Vancouver report, it was noted that only 34% of the food consumed in BC comes from BC. This is down from a 2006 estimate of 48%. That places British Columbians in quite the pickle if something happens that threatens imports and aordable prices. Aren’t we seeing that now? Nope. We’re only at the tip of the iceberg. With the population of BC anticipated to grow to more than 6.5 million by 2041, up from 5.3 million today, the challenge of producing enough local food at aordable prices to feed all will take every farmer we can get our hands on. It will also take a lot of land – 8.5 million acres by some calculations, up from approximately 5.6 million today. The future of food requires everyone pulling together: full-time farmers, part-time farmers, even green thumb gardeners like me. Sadly, some people in the industry are still mistaking time spent as a measure of %PXOUPXO3FBMUZtOE4U7FSOPO#$t0óDFPat | 250.308.0938QBUEVHHBO!SPZBMMFQBHFDBThea | 250.308.5807UIFBNDMBVHIMJO!SPZBMMFQBHFDB6475 COSENS BAY RD, COLDSTREAMwww.FarmRanchResidential.ca “Farmers helping farmers with their real estate needs”Newer 1152 sq ft home in private rural setting on 23.48 acres backing onto Crown land. Gently sloped land with a few flat benches, well situated for livestock. Open concept, vaulted ceilings, large deck. Detached garage. MLS®10264156 $849,0003465 SMITH ROAD . FALKLANDPERSONAL REAL ESTATE CORPORATION YOURHelping YouYOURHelping YouHelpingpingplpinYoulHHpingoeDon’t forget to RENEW your subscription toCountry Lifein BCViewpoint RONDA PAYNE
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COUNTRY LIFE IN BC FEBRUARY 2023 | 7Frozen outSevere winter damage means another short grape cropSnow blankets a vineyard in Kelowna as Okanagan grape growers take stock of frost damage after a late December freeze that threatens to hand growers their fourth short crop in ve years. A pruning workshop in January gave growers tips on mitigating the damage and priming the vines for a new season. MYRNA STARK LEADERTOM WALKER OLIVER – Okanagan grape growers are expecting major crop losses and the potential for vine damage as a result of temperatures that hit a low of -32°C at Kelowna airport the night of December 22. The damage took centre stage at the BC Grapegrowers Association’s annual pruning workshop at Inniskillin Vineyard in Oliver, which discussed ways to support vines as they recover. Arterra Wines viticulture director Troy Osborne says the event was one of the most severe he’s seen in his 30 years in the industry. “We had major bud loss as well as some total vine loss in the winter 08/09, but I believe that this equinox freeze will be more severe because it stayed cold for a longer period of time. We are in uncharted territory,” he says. The longer the temperature stays at the average lethal temperature exotherm (LTE) that can result in 50% bud mortality, the more damage it does to the vines, Osborne explains. “At two of our sites in Okanagan Falls, we recorded seven hours below the LTE. That will do a lot more damage than if the temperature just touched down to a low but began climbing back up again,” he says. Buds for the coming season’s crop are the rst to be impacted. If the primary and secondary buds are dead, the bud will not produce fruit this summer, but the vine will not suer long-term eects if it remains healthy. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada grape physiologist Ben-Min Chang collected and dissected grape buds at 48 Okanagan sites just after the freeze event. “I found a range from 100% bud kill for most varieties in the Kelowna area, up to 0% bud kill in a Riesling block on the Naramata Bench,” he says. But when temperatures head towards -32°C, they can damage vine tissue as well, something Chang also observed. “The vine can recover from damage to the outer bark, the phellem, though similar to a high bud loss, the vine will suer some impact,” he explains. “But damage to the xylem does not repair and you can lose canes, the upper trunk, or even the entire vine.” Grapevine hardiness can be predicted using data from AAFC’s bi-weekly grape hardiness reports based on vines across the Okanagan. Data for December 22 showed the temperatures at which 50% bud kill would occur ranged between -20.2°C to -23.2°C. But these numbers are only a guide. The many microclimates across the Okanagan present dierent circumstances for each grower. Block location, growing conditions, vine health, crop load the previous year, soil moisture and snow depth at the time of frost are just some of the extenuating factors. “We had a block of Sauvignon Blanc which is usually a more tender variety that we picked early as the winery wanted a lower Brix,” says Osborne. “Those vines are much less frost-aected than some of our Chardonnay, which usually has a greater cold hardiness. I expect that was because the Sauvignon vines had a longer period of dormancy before heading into the winter.” Arterra has 35 temperature monitors located across its vineyards. “We recorded -27° on the Naramata Bench and at that temperature our reds will be toast,” says Osborne. The grape hardiness report predicted 50% damage at -22.1°C on December 21 for local Merlot, and Osborne doesn’t expect anyone, anywhere will be picking Syrah this fall. Grown largely on select sites in the very south of the valley, three blocks that Chang inspected suered losses of 87% to 100%. Growers impacted by winter damage should submit a notice of loss as early as possible to start the insurance process, Osborne adds. “I expect we are all going to get to know our crop insurance reps a lot better this year,” he quips. “This will be a dierent year farming grapes than you are used to. It won’t be fun, but the vines will come back.” The damage puts the industry on track for another short crop, the fourth in ve years. A study last year by consulting rm Cascadia Partners for the BC Ministry of Agriculture and Food described “a persistent short crop problem” aicting the industry. “We’re now working with the agriculture minister on long-term solutions,” Wine Growers BC president and CEO Miles Prodan says. The BC Fruit Growers’ AssociationDID YOU KNOW?supports members through programs:BCFGA provides free magazine subscriptions to Orchard and Vine, Country Life in BC, The Grower and Good Fruit Grower (NEW!).BCFGA provides assistance to members to complete Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program applications, backed by an accredited Registered Canadian Immigration Consultant.EFP Incentive Program ($250). Green Spark Discount -TFW housing permitting. COR Safety Certiﬁcation Incentive ($250). One-time Incentives: BCFGA 2022 Food Safety Incentive ($455). BCFGA Crop Input Incentive.12345Growers should sample their vines in order to know the extent of damage that has occurred in each of their blocks before they start to prune, says Arterra Wines viticulture director Troy Osborne. Arterra’s own crews are busy collecting canes from each of the 220 blocks the company farms and labelling them by location and variety. A crew member selects a large bud on the cane and, using a razor, cuts through the bud on a diagonal to uncover the bud tissue. Each of the primary, secondary and tertiary buds in the bud cluster is examined for colour – green means it’s alive, shades of brown mean that the bud has died. The bark of the cane is also peeled back to assess cane damage and ndings are recorded. The amount and type of vine damage are two factors that determine how grapegrowers will conduct their pruning. “If bud damage is less than 15%, you would prune as usual, aiming for a total of 20 buds per vine,” says Jody Subotin, vineyard manager for wineries owned by Enotecca, including Le Vieux Pin and LaStella. “If the damage is up to 50%, you would leave an extra 50% buds so up to 30.” But if the damage is over 80%, many growers are planning to simply hedge last year’s canes at about 5-8 inches, with the chance that some buds were undamaged and will leaf out and some new shoots will sprout to help the vine recover. Vineyard pruning is all about balance, Subotin says, balancing the health of the vines against producing even a minimal crop. “At times like this year and last, it’s nerve-wracking,” says Subotin. “It’s hard to stand in front of a vine if you don’t know what’s going to happen.” Osborne urged growers to put the long-term health of their vines rst. “You may be able to get a small crop this year, but consider what the long-term impact will be to a vine that could be producing for many more years,” he says. —Tom Walker Pruning it right
8 | FEBRUARY 2023 COUNTRY LIFE IN BCMultiple modes of actionson your toughest pests.Cormoran® Insecticide• Broad-spectrum rapid insect knockdown combined with extended residual control• Controls all damaging stages of target insects, including eggs, immatures & adults• Convenient co-formulation replaces the need to tank-mix different products• Registered for apples, blueberries, cherries, strawberries and many other fruit & vegetable cropsAlways read and follow label directions. Copyright ©2021 ADAMA Ltd. Cormoran® is a registered trademark of ADAMA Ltd.Technical and sales support provided byCohortWholesale.comProgram delivery, advocacy have separate rolesEditor: Re: The challenges of BC ag industry advocacy, December 2022, page 5 I read with interest Kathleen Gibson’s article in the December 2022 issue of Country Life in BC in which she outlines her views on the challenges of BC ag industry advocacy and program delivery. I would like to clarify the role of IAF and program delivery in British Columbia. Federal-provincial-territorial cost sharing agreements for the Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food sectors have been in place for 20 years starting with the Agriculture Policy Framework (2003-06), to Growing Forward I (2007-12) & II (2013-18), the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (2018-23) and as of April 1, 2023, the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership. These agreements represent a signicant amount of funding for all the provinces and territories, and they also come with signicant expectations around the kinds of programs that are required to be delivered and outcomes achieved. Some provinces such as Ontario and Alberta have large provincial agriculture and agri-food ministries and other provinces such as BC and Nova Scotia have relatively small provincial ministries and need to rely on third-party delivery agents, like the Investment Agriculture Foundation (IAF), to assist with some aspects of program and service delivery. The kind of program that Ms. Gibson describes that provided commodity-specic support were phased out in 1990s when Canada signed the WTO and NAFTA agreements. These trade agreements required that governments move to more “thematic” programming that was deemed to be less trade distorting. Programs that focused on “innovation, competitiveness, international market development and the environment” were developed and introduced, in consultation with industry and the provinces. This kind of thematic programming no longer t squarely with a particular commodity group as the benets/incentives of these programs were intentionally targeted to all commodities. In addition to this shift to thematic and environmental programming, governments moved away from using grants to fund programs to using contributions. Contribution-type funding is much more dicult to manage, incurred costs are usually only paid in arrears and these agreements have strict eligibility and scal requirements. In addition to these new realities of how program funding was provided, there was the impact of the Internet and the new legislative requirements that organizations must be able to provide in order deliver government programs. Third-party delivery organizations must be able to ensure Canadian cloud-based digital storage and security, privacy protection, and enhanced nancial and program monitoring and reporting. Contrary to misconceptions, many of BC’s producers want and expect digital access, simple and intuitive user experiences and a certain degree of self-serve and self-access to their les and applications. All of this is very expensive to develop and provide, and governments are usually looking to pay no more than a 10% administration fee. Finally, there are government procurement policies which aim to ensure fairness, transparency and good value for public funds. These are all laudable goals, however it does require organizations to bid in a competitive process for these programs. The competition is often the large accounting rms who have deep pockets, sophisticated IT and lots of interns available to work. All of this to say that it is a serious and challenging commitment in this day and age to be in the business of delivering government programs. Programs that are very targeted to sector-specic research, extension or involve a limited number of strategic initiatives (e.g. will not overwhelm an association with applications) will always be best delivered by those commodity-specic associations who have the will and the capacity to do so. Over the past ve years, IAF has worked to scale our program delivery capacity to the point where we are almost operating on a cost recovery basis. This was after years of subsidizing our program delivery costs with interest earned from our sustaining fund. IAF has recently conducted a survey to our member associations and the members were very clear in their direction: IAF should remain committed to program and service delivery and BC Agriculture Council (BCAC) should continue to focus on policy development and advocacy. There is an inherent tension when associations that engage in lobbying and advocacy are also involved in government program delivery. It can be challenging to deliver tough messages to government when they are paying your bills. IAF has a great working relationship with BCAC and is 100% supportive of BCAC’s role in advocating on behalf of BC’s diverse agricultural sectors. Each of our organizations plays a distinct and vital role in the BC agriculture ecosystem. There is zero room for duplication or overlap with the limited resources available to the agriculture sector. It is imperative we each undertake our roles to the best of our collective abilities. Michelle Koski, CEO, Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC Letters
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC FEBRUARY 2023 | 9Wild weather continues to hammer dairiesFV producers assured they will be paid for dumped milkDairy producers were advised to keep their driveways clear as cold and snow in late December made travel hazardous. Weather-related costs hit the Mainland Milk Producers' nances hard last year. SUBMITTEDWITH OVER 29 YEARS OF EXPERIENCEWe oer our clients the best service there is in the real estate industry ensuring there are no unanswered questions or concerns.43013 Adams Road, Greendale Chilliwack A rare nd! Just under 10 acres oering a variety of opportunities. Operated as a state of the art dairy facility up to April 2022. 2907sq.ft. well maintained house, plus four barns.MLS# C8048702 | Asking $3,200,000DAVID SCHMIDT ABBOTSFORD – In November 2021, the central Fraser Valley was awash in water as an atmospheric river reclaimed Sumas Lake, flooding dairy farms and leading to huge losses in the dairy industry. Just over a year later, in December 2022, the scenario threatened to repeat itself as heavy snow blanketed the entire Lower Mainland, making many rural roads impassible and causing lengthy delays on the highway and other essential transportation corridors. The 2021 flood caused Mainland Milk Producers to tear into their reserves, contributing $102,500 to flood relief for affected farmers. That, and a decision to contribute almost $25,000 to five Ag in the Classroom projects, led to a dramatic reduction in MMP’s cash balances in the 2021-22 year, producers were told at their annual meeting in Abbotsford, January 6. December’s snowfall did not impact MMP’s finances but it did impact the industry, as several farmers were forced to dump milk when milk trucks were unable to reach all farms. “The bad weather was challenging at both the farm level and the processor level,” the BC Milk Marketing Board reported. The board noted that not only were trucks unable to get to some farms, but some trucks which reached farms were then stuck in long freeway lineups which had some commuters taking 12 hours to get from Vancouver to Surrey. Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon Conservative MP Brad Vis told producers he and his colleagues are pushing the provincial and federal governments to work together on improving flood recovery and emergency management systems. BC Dairy Association acting executive director Jennifer Woron, subbing for a holidaying Jeremy Dunn, told producers BCDA has completed a more robust emergency management plan and formed a producer advisory group to assist implementation. BCMMB director Kevin Mammel stressed producers will get paid for milk not picked up during the storms. He noted the dumped milk represented less than 1% of December’s production, adding those costs will be shared by the entire Western Milk Pool. “I hope this is a kinder, gentler year than the last ones,” BC Dairy Association president Holger Schwichtenberg said. He noted the BCDA is putting “a lot of work” into the ongoing transition into a WMP-wide association. Woron said their mission is to support a profitable, environmentally and socially responsible dairy industry. The BCDA is forging closer relationships with processors, working on enhancing dairy farmers’ reputations and supporting an increase in processing capacity in the West. To that end, she said the Dairy Innovation West project is moving ahead. She noted the organizational structure has been finalized and Farm Credit Canada has now approved its financing. Mammel reported that BC’s 2022 fluid milk sales were down about 5% from 2021 levels but noted that 2021 consumption was at an all-time high so sales were not down as much when compared to pre-pandemic levels. He said production in the P-5 (Ontario-East) is up substantially. While production in the West is also up, it has not reached its five-year maximum. There is room for growth, he added, saying butter and cheese stocks are both the lowest they have been in five years. “We need to rebuild butter stocks but the cheese situation is not as dire,” he told producers. Producers also watched a virtual keynote presentation on US renewable fuel programs by Sam Wade of California, director of public policy at the Coalition for Renewable Natural Gas. The programs are intended to promote renewable fuels because of their environmental impact in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Although government says basic renewable fuels reduce GHG emissions by 20% compared to 2005 levels, advanced and biodiesel fuels reduce them by 50% and cellulosic fuels (ethanol) reduce them 60%, that has yet to be demonstrated. The system involves a “government-made” market of tradeable credits. Those credits can fluctuate widely in value as government policies change, Wade stressed. Anaerobic digestion systems which only use manure have a higher value than systems which mix manure with other green waste, he noted. This is even though mixed systems may have greater benefits by diverting more waste and certainly have greater output than systems which only use manure. He said the value of the credits is also impacted by what farmers are already doing to mitigate emissions, how they convert the manure into renewable fuels, how they move the gas they produce and what they do with the digestate. He admitted the system gives the worst farmers the greatest benefit, effectively penalizing farmers already taking steps to mitigate their environmental impacts. Wade’s presentation left most farmers glassy-eyed as they struggled to understand the concepts. He agreed it is a challenging topic, admitting “it’s pretty scary to add a multi-million dollar project to your farm that has nothing to do with your farm operation.” He advised interested farmers to “work with an established project developer.” Finding one could be a challenge in itself as the sector includes a gaggle of snake-oil salesmen.
10 | FEBRUARY 2023 COUNTRY LIFE IN BCView over 100 listings of farm properties at www.bcfarmandranch.comBC FARM & RANCH REALTY CORP.Buying or Selling a Farm or Acreage?GORD HOUWELING Cell: 604/793-8660GREG WALTON Cell: 604/864-1610Toll free 1-888-852-AGRI Call BC’s First and Only Real Estate Office committed 100% to Agriculture!PROFESSIONAL SERVICESProvince hires two new assistant deputy ministerscapacities, most recently as deputy and regional director with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Eric Christiansen, formerly a policy advisor in the premier’s oce, also recently joined the ministry as an assistant deputy minister. Koski joins the provincial ministry following the abrupt departure last fall of Arif Lalani. BC Fruit Growers Association general manager Glen Lucas says Koski’s experience will be an asset to the ministry. “There's been a few vacancies and gaps over the past couple of years and it's fantastic to see some fresh new faces,” he says. “Michelle Koski has great experience and we know her from many programs that we've worked together with [her] on.” She also leaves a strong foundation for IAFBC as it grows its role as a program administrator. “Our loss is their gain. She was an amazing CEO,” says IAFBC chair Jack DeWit. “She was hard working and has really good organizational skills and really led the organization to the higher level from where we were at before. I think Michelle will be a real asset for the whole ag branch in Victoria.” Lucas says the new faces at the ministry oers a fresh start at the beginning of a new year. “Everyone is new there. From the minister, deputy minister, assistant deputy ministers – so the top leadership team is all new in the last year, and we're very excited to be working with them and seeing the new directions that are going to emerge,” he says. — Kate Ayers BC Milk opens organic stream Rising demand for organic milk has prompted the BC Milk Marketing Board to expand its new entrant program to include aspiring organic producers. The change reects “an eort to match the high demand that exists in the organic industry … [and] encourage more new entrants to venture into organic farming.” The additional stream was approved December 21, and the selection process will run alongside the conventional program. The process is limited to candidates from the existing organic freight zones in the Fraser Valley and Okanagan. Candidates can use the standard NEP application but must indicate their interest in producing organic milk. “Successful candidates will receive a one-time organic incentive allocation of 30% on all of the NEP quota,” BC Milk explains. “This allows an organic farmer to begin operations with up to 40.3 kg of quota.” The standard program provides 31 kg of quota (15 kg initial allocation+8 kg purchased quota+8 kg matching allocation). Candidates for organic production whose applications meet board requirements are guaranteed an interview with the NEP selection committee. They will not be entered into the random draw reserved for conventional producers. BC Milk says new entrants chosen for organic production will have three years to begin milking “due to the additional requirements for organic production.” Conventional producers must commence production by the end of 2024. The application deadline is February 7. A random draw will select 10 candidates for conventional production who will make their case alongside qualifying organic candidates in interviews planned for July. The successful new entrants will be announced this summer. — Peter Mitham ALC eyes Heppell property for inclusion A public hearing scheduled for Langley as this issue went to press aimed to gauge public support for a bid to protect more than 300 acres of farmland in Surrey considered among the most productive in Canada. The province’s Agricultural Land Commission gave notice December 7 that it would seek to include ve properties totalling 305 acres within the Agricultural Land Reserve. The lands are currently owned by the federal government, which leases approximately 220 acres to the Heppell family for vegetable production. But the ALC says Ottawa’s plans to sell the properties, which are deemed surplus, “may leave the lands vulnerable to future changes in land use.” “Given the longstanding agricultural use and productivity of the properties, the commission considers that the lands may be suitable for inclusion to the ALR,” the ALC states. The hearing was set for January 23. Conservative MP for South Surrey-White Rock Kerry-Lynne Findlay supports the inclusion bid. “She believes that transferring this land into the ALR is in the best interest of all parties involved,” says a statement from her executive assistant. “We are glad the Agricultural Land Commission moved to protect it.” Ottawa continues to perform due diligence activities prior to oering the properties for sale, Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) told Country Life in BC at the end of November. It anticipated releasing its plans for the properties’ in early 2023. The bid to include the lands within the Agricultural Land Reserve could protect the site from development, regardless of who owns the property. In an update to local advocacy site [BeautifulBrookswood.com], PSPC regional real estate services manager Ben Black said the government is receiving information from the Kwantlen, Katzie and Semiahmoo First Nations regarding their historical association and use of the site before moving forward. — Peter Mitham Two new assistant deputy ministers have joined the BC Ministry of Agriculture and Food. Michelle Koski joined the province January 27 after ve years as CEO of the Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC. “I am happy to share that I have accepted a position as assistant deputy minister with the Ministry of Agriculture and Food,” she said in a LinkedIn post last month. “I am very much looking forward to working with the talented and dedicated sta at the ministry and returning to public service. I am also looking forward to working with BC's agriculture, agri-food and agri-tech sectors in my new role.” In addition to her work with IAF, Koski brings extensive experience with the federal government in dierent Expert farm taxation adviceApproved consultants for Government funding throughBC Farm Business Advisory Services ProgramEnderby 250-838-7337Armstrong 250-546-8665 |t1VSDIBTFBOETBMFPGGBSNTt5SBOTGFSPGGBSNTUPDIJMESFOt(PWFSONFOUTVCTJEZQSPHSBNTt1SFQBSBUJPOPGGBSNUBYSFUVSOTt6TFPG$BQJUBM(BJOT&YFNQUJPOT$ISJT)FOEFSTPO$1"$"-PSFO)VUUPO$1"$"5PMM 'SFF1-888-818-FARM |www.farmtax.comRossworn HendersonLLPChartered Professional Accountants - Tax Consultantsartered Professional Accountants - Tax ConsultanCALL FOR AN ESTIMATE LARRY 604.209.5523 TROY 604.209.5524 TRI-WAY FARMS LASER LEVELLING LTD.IMPROVED DRAINAGE UNIFORM GERMINATION UNIFORM IRRIGATION FAST, ACCURATE SURVEYING INCREASE CROP YIELDS We service all of Southern BCAg Briefs PETER MITHAM
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC FEBRUARY 2023 | 11Building not land value bumps farm assessmentsApplications for farm status on the rise post-COVIDEven though farmland values remained stable, property owners saw increases of 9% to 25% in their assessments last month as building values took a leap. MYRNA STARK LEADERinfo@reimersfarmservice.comCheck out our Einbock Tillage Equipment For Organic FarmingTine Weeders tRow Crop Cultivators Rotary Hoes & Camera Guidance SystemAND On In Stock AEROSTAR 900 Tine WeedersDELTA Drain Tile Cleaner Improves Drainage & Conditions Soil Economical & Reliable Low Maintenance Safe and ProvenSPECIAL PRICING On In Stock PETER MITHAM VICTORIA – The value of all assessed properties in the province increased 12% last year to $2.7 trillion, but the value of farmland for assessment purposes remained stable thanks to how the province assesses farmland. While residential property owners in the province were warned in December to expect increases of between 5% and 15% when they received their assessment notices in January, farm class properties are unique. Their assessed value is governed by regulations that took eect in 2003, and do not change from year to year. While the market value may change, their value for tax purposes does not. “Properties with farm classication have static legislated land rates applied to them and do not uctuate with the market compared to most other property types, such as the regular residential market,” BC Assessment told Country Life in BC in a statement. This means farmland assessments in the province are largely unchanged despite the dramatic shifts in the real estate market as a whole, according to BC Assessment. Sta were unable to provide the number of farm properties on this year’s tax roll, or an aggregate value, but two years ago the roll included 52,073 farm properties with an assessed value of $1.29 billion as of the valuation date of July 1, 2020. This was up from approximately 51,000 farm properties worth $1.25 billion as of July 1, 2018. The current tally is likely higher, says Aubrey Grace, a former farm assessor with BC Assessment who retired last year after 22 years’ service and now helps landowners navigate the process to obtain farm class status for their properties. “Just in the past year, applications have really jumped up,” he says. Part of the reason is that people see an opportunity for a tax break. However, they have to realize that some measure of farming has to be taking place, or in development, as outlined in the assessment regulations. This is surfacing as an issue in the wake of the two-year period during the pandemic when the province allowed owners to retain farm class status without providing proof of income. The measure was intended to assist growers through lean times. Properties that changed hands or underwent various other changes were not exempt. But even properties with farm class status may see an increase, because a portion of the property is designated for residential use and the value of structures – unlike land – does shift in line with the market. This year, values reect July 1, 2022, a date when the impact of higher interest rates had yet to be fully felt on the real estate market. Many properties were still at or near their pandemic-era peak. Grace says many farm property owners are surprised by the increase in their assessments. When an initial version of this report appeared online in early January, some property owners contacted Country Life in BC and indicated that their assessments had increased between 9% and 25%. “They see their house as a depreciating asset. They understand land going up, but they have a hard time comprehending a building’s value going up,” Grace says. He explains that the land component of the assessment is usually set rst, meaning a residence and other improvements are assigned the residual value. “My goal was to be as aggressive on the value of the land as possible,” he says. “As long as you get that land up as high as possible, it will decrease the amount that building has to uctuate from year to year. … It really decreased the amount of appeals we got each year.” While the market value of farmland uctuates, too, it is assessed at the value set forth in the assessment regulation. “The underlying market value of that land is still there; it’s just suppressed,” Grace says. In October, Farm Credit Canada indicated a 15% average increase in BC farmland values province-wide between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022. Farm Credit Canada’s senior assessor for BC did not respond to a request for comment on trends in the latter half of 2022.
12 | FEBRUARY 2023 COUNTRY LIFE IN BCMarketing British Columbia to the World®www.landquest.comToll Free 1-866-558-LAND (5263)“The Source” for Oceanfront, Lakefront, Islands, Ranches, Resorts & Land in BC®Visit our WebsiteLAKE VIEW ACREAGE WITH CREEK IN THE SELKIRK MOUNTAINS - GALENA BAY, BCBARNSTON ISLAND ACREAGERARE RECREATIONAL OPPORTUNITY NEAR MANNING PROVINCIAL PARKNORTH END FARMSALT SPRING ISLANDBLUEBERRY POINTBLIND BAY - NELSON ISLANDLAKEFRONT EQUESTRIAN ESTATELAC LA HACHE, BC5.4 ACRES IN 3 TITLESLEVEL FORT ST. JAMES RIVERFRONT10 ACRE OCEAN VIEW WILDERNESS PROPERTY - GALIANO ISLAND147 acres with a beautiful year-round creek. Land is mostly cleared except for some hardwoods and a mature tree corridor along the creek’s course. Easy access to the lake and bordering on Crown land. Land is either A few outbuildings. $599,000farmland, with 296 ft frontage on the Fraser of hay for silage. Considered to be the best agricultural land on the island. A hidden gem minutes from the city. NOW $895,000Just a few minutes from one of the most 2 ‘tiny’ cabin on from Penticton, it is easily accessed and suitable for weekend getaways. $279,000The iconic North End Farm is a rare hay / pasture and mature coastal timber. A fully operation farm, long known as a popular market for island residents. $11,500,000Nelson Island. This location perhaps has cottage, guest cabin and more. $895,000This estate ranch is a 29.78 acre world class of unobstructed lakeshore on beautiful Lac La Hache. $4,100,000Located just minutes from town center the residences or just keep a couple lots for $295,000 in place. 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Logged with all 5 acre parcels. $779,000Are you looking for a stunning, lakefront property to homestead with your family and NOW $749,000SAM HODSON 604-809-2616 Personal Real Estate Corporationsam@landquest.comFAWN GUNDERSON 250-982-2314Personal Real Estate Corporationfawn@landquest.comPETER MITHAM VICTORIA – With international borders open and foreign workers no longer required to quarantine, this year should have marked a return to normal for the hundreds of BC growers who employ temporary foreign workers. Instead, many farm employers have been caught in a backlog of applications for the certicates BC requires employers to have before they can hire temporary foreign workers. “We are currently experiencing an increased volume of applications,” a notice on the registration site operated by the BC Ministry of Labour says. “Applications are processed in the order they are received and we are unable to expedite applications at this time.” “Their systems just didn’t keep up to the volume of applications that they received,” says Reg Ens, general manager of the Western Agriculture Labour Initiative, which represents industry on farm labour issues. “Nobody anticipated the volume.” Registration became mandatory in December 2020, and Ens says issues to date have been minor. “Until this fall, we had never had any complaints,” Ens notes. “Employers we talked to said it was going well.” But registration certicates need to be renewed regularly, and he suspects this is where the issue arose. Since employers can’t seek federal permission to hire foreign workers without a certicate, and the province hasn’t been in the habit of issuing renewal reminders, many farms likely found themselves caught out this fall. Regulators have also been less forgiving with respect to gaps in hiring applications, requiring full compliance. The result was a ood of applications for new certicates this fall. The delays were so bad that industry ocials met with the province’s agriculture and labour ministers January 12 to discuss the situation. “They have heard industry’s concerns that the backlog is creating for the rest of the application process, and they’re taking steps to get through that as quickly as possible,” Ens says. Government has also expressed openness to sending renewal reminders to employers to ensure a more even ow of applications in future. The province attributes the backlog to growing demand for temporary foreign workers, which has resulted in sta being overwhelmed with applications from employers seeking to register. “To address the increase in applications, the BC Employment Standards Branch continues to add stang resources,” the BC Ministry of Labour says in a statement to Country Life in BC. “With additional sta and the prioritization of applications for agricultural workers, the goal is to return to standard processing times as soon as possible.” This seemed to be taking place as this issue went to press. A keyword search for “orchard” indicates that no certicates were issued to businesses identied as such in all of December. Searching the registry for employers with “farm” in their name retrieved 398 hits on January 20, but of the 263 certicates issued since September, nearly 75% or 191 were issued in January. BC farms typically welcome about 15,000 foreign workers a year, primarily from Mexico and the Caribbean. Approximately 13,500 are employed in the Lower Mainland and Thompson-Okanagan regions. Workers arriving to work in BC this year will earn a premium to the province’s minimum wage, however, meaning they don’t come cheap. A federal requirement means most employers are required to pay a minimum of $16.05 an hour. This compares to a minimum wage for domestic workers of $15.65. The higher rate eectively boosts the hourly rate for all farm employees, however. “It is good practice to pay all sta with similar experience doing the same function the same wage rate,” the BC Landscape and Nursery Association – whose members are among the rst to welcome foreign workers each year – advises. Many employers nd the cost is worth it, however. “It’s not cheap to have foreign workers,” says Karen Taylor, an agricultural economist and director of corporate nance with the agricultural division of BMO Financial Group in Abbotsford. “But for a lot of them, there’s no other alternatives, because otherwise they don’t have labour or they don’t have consistent labour.” Province scrambles to register farm employersSeasonal worker applications held up by employer registry backlog“Applications are processed in the order they are received and we are unable to expedite applications at this time.” BC MINISTRY OF LABOUR
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC FEBRUARY 2023 | 13Growers contest compensation formula for AI CFIA, industry taken unawares by scale of the outbreakFOR BAGGED or BULK ORDERSDarren Jansen Owner604.email@example.comCertified by Pro-Cert Organic Systems Ltd.“Serving British Columbia proudly since 1946”Machinery LimitedROLLINS RToll Free 1-800-242-9737 www.rollinsmachinery.com firstname.lastname@example.orgChilliwack 1.800.242.9737 . 47724 Yale Rd W Langley 1.800.665.9060 . 21869 56th Ave Chemainus 220.127.116.113 . 3306 Smiley Rd Kelowna 250.765.8266 . 201-150 Campion StToll Free 1-800-242-9737 www.rollinsmachinery.comChilliack 1.800.242.9737 | 44725 Yale Rd W Langley 1.800.665.9060 | 21869 - 56th Ave Chemainus 1.250-246.1203 | 3306 Smiley RdChilliwack 1.800.242.9737 . 47724 Yale Rd W Langley 1.800.665.9060 . 21869 56th Ave Chemainus 18.104.22.1683 . 3306 Smiley Rd Kelowna 250.765.8266 . 201-150 Campion StSPRING FEEDING MADE EASYPETER MITHAM ABBOTSFORD – The scale of the ongoing avian inuenza outbreak continues to surprise government and industry alike as it remains a going concern in advance of spring bird migrations. While the pace of detections cooled in December and through January, the disease kept growers on their toes as it appeared on small-lot holdings in several new communities from Summerland to Tono. But for commercial growers, the pressure to maintain stringent biosecurity protocols against the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain of the virus behind the outbreak remains. “We all have our feelings on how this spreads, but do your best on your biosecurity; do not let mechanical spread be a source of this,” says Woody Siemens, executive director of the BC Chicken Marketing Board in addressing the BC Chicken Growers Association on January 11. “As an industry, we need to make sure that’s not happening.” Siemens said the latest date for a winter detection in BC is February 19, meaning there’s plenty of time yet for the disease to manifest on local farms. “And by then you’re getting pretty close to a spring outbreak, too,” he notes. A third of the 70 detections on commercial farms since mid-November have fallen within a single control zone covering much of East Abbotsford and Chilliwack. It was the most active zone for commercial infections in January, underscoring the risk of farm-to-farm spread. However, no instances of farm-to-farm spread have been identied during the current outbreak, pointing to the importance of the industry’s red-level biosecurity protocols. But the length and magnitude of the current outbreak is unprecedented. The disease had hit 103 premises aecting more than 3.5 million birds as of January 22, two and a half times the number of premises than when the Canadian Food Inspection Agency ordered a total depopulation of the Fraser Valley ock in 2004. Strong biosecurity protocols were intended to prevent a repeat of the disaster, but new challenges have emerged. “I don’t think an event of this magnitude had been anticipated, on either side,” says Derek Janzen, a grower in Aldergrove and vice-chair of BC Chicken Marketing Board. The result has been a lag time in depopulations, which has forced growers to hold infected birds, risking the spread of infection within their own ocks and potentially to others. And meanwhile, the birds’ still have to be fed to ensure their welfare. This comes at a cost. The lag time between detection and a destruction order on Janzen’s farm was 11 days. “Now we’re at that point – what do I do? I’ve waited a week for my birds to be destroyed but I’ve had to order feed a couple of times,” he says. “There should be some compensation for that.” The question is a live one for growers, many of whom were struggling to meet production costs before the outbreak arrived in BC last April. Now, with growers receiving a mandated maximum of $20 for the average meat bird and $30 per laying hen, costs are biting even more. “We all know the price of feed is very high these days, thousands of dollars,” Abbotsford grower Fred Redekop says. “Those guys are on the hook for that feed, they can’t do anything.” Ray Nickel, who has worked with the BC Poultry Association’s emergency operations centre during the outbreak, encourages growers to appeal compensation awards, noting the costs incurred while tissue samples are analyzed and diagnoses are made. “Particularly where there’s been a lag in the destruction of the birds, I think it’s a very good point for producers to make sure they appeal,” he says, noting that industry is also in discussions with CFIA to clarify the terms of compensation. “You are performing an animal welfare issue, obviously, by feeding birds that are destined for destruction,” he says. “We do have a lot of farms that are going through those metrics right now.” Janzen, for his part, is hopeful that the current experience will create a more responsive compensation framework for future outbreaks. “Maybe that will be something that gets built in going forward,” he says. Fraser Valley poultry producers have been hit hard by the current outbreak of avian inuenza, now in its 10th month, and many are asking for changes to how compensation is awarded. FILE
14 | FEBRUARY 2023 COUNTRY LIFE IN BCCohortWholesale.comTechnical and sales support provided byCrack the cherry cracking code!Lalstim Osmo • Minimizes yield losses caused by rain-induced splitting• Works quickly and provides protection for several weeks• Excellent tank-mix partnerAlways read and follow label directions. Lalstim Osmo is a registered trademark of Lallemand Plant Care. Copyright ©2023 Lallemand Plant Care. CRACK THE C DElallemandplantcare.com Funding available for Langley landownersReducing coliform counts in stream runoff helps farmers on both sides of the borderPETER MITHAM LANGLEY – Ongoing concerns regarding fecal coliform levels in various Fraser Valley watercourses is leading to international collaboration aimed at improving water health. The presence of fecal bacteria in the Little Campbell River, Bertrand Creek, Pepin Brook and Fishtrap Creek has been an issue for decades, and has been a particular concern of dairy farmers in neighbouring Washington who live downstream. Their operations have often been tagged as sources of the contamination, but much of it is the result of runo into creeks that originate in the Fraser Valley. “They can enter the water due to human activities, such as improperly maintained septic systems or ineective nutrient management,” says Amanda Smith, agricultural program coordinator with the Langley Environmental Partners Society. “High levels of fecal coliform can impact water, soil quality, animal health and drinking water.” LEPS was granted $97,000 in 2021 for work on the Collaborative Transboundary Water Quality Improvement Project, which aims to support sustainable changes to reduce the impact that land management practices can have on nearby waterways. Funded by the federal government’s EcoAction Community Funding Program, it’s a continuation of work undertaken by the international, multi-agency Nooksack River Transboundary Technical Collaboration Group. Established in 2018, the group was itself a successor to the BC-WA Nooksack River Transboundary Water Quality Task Group, established in 2016 to address issues raised a year earlier by Washington’s governor. The technical collaboration group, which included LEPS, had a three-year work plan aimed at reducing fecal bacteria concentrations in the Nooksack River watershed. “The pandemic put a wrench in some of the work that they were doing,” explains LEPS executive director Nichole Marples. “A lot of work still remained to be done.” The current project provides property owners in south Langley and Abbotsford with information, support and tools to reduce their impact on water quality and the environment while ensuring their properties are in compliance with the four-year-old Agriculture Environmental Management Code of Practice (AEMCoP). Project initiatives include a series of free webinars on topics like nutrient management, manure composting, septic system maintenance and freshwater habitat management. Future topics will also include cover cropping, carbon sequestration and more. Small farms and rural properties can apply for free on-site consultations on ways to maintain and improve water quality. The program oers participants tarps to cover manure piles and native plants to decrease nutrient runo. An online water quality atlas has been developed to share water sampling results, which are available at [www.leps.bc.ca/water-quality-test/]. LEPS hopes to work with 60 property owners. Marcel Sachse of Pinsch of Soil, an organic vegetable farm that backs onto a tributary of the Little Campbell River, is a participant. He initially approached LEPS for advice on managing manure from his farm’s horses. “They gave us a lot of guidance on what is important to store manure and prevent runo,” he says. A consultation last fall under the new program was a chance to check in and see how previous initiatives and current operations were measuring up. “They came out again to look again to see if there was anything that could be done better,” he says. The main thing from the consultations, which is why we always say yes, is that you just get another perspective on your own practices.” The latest opinion was positive, conrming that Pinsch of Soil is on the right track. “There was not too much we have to change in terms of our manure shed, but we do use manure and compost for our outside garden so we have an extra tarp for the manure pile,” he says. Since the water in the aquifer he draws from originates on Mount Baker, Sachse is aware of the cross-border impacts of farm practices – his own and those of US farmers. “The water we drink comes from another watershed, and I wouldn’t want them to mess with that. We can lead by example, and gives them no reason to do dierently to me,” he says. “Water knows no boundaries.” The work of LEPS, which works with Arocha Canada, the Shared Waters Alliance and the BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy on water sampling, is welcomed by authorities in Whatcom County. “On the US side of the border, we have a partnership of local, state, tribal and federal organizations working together with landowners to nd and address preventable sources of fecal bacteria,” says Erika Douglas, environmental programs manager with Whatcom County Public Works in Bellingham. “We are grateful to also partner with organizations in British Columbia to coordinate sampling, share information, and work to improve water quality on both sides of the international border.”
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC FEBRUARY 2023 | 15Easy on the eyes! Potatoes remain the top vegetable with consumers, offering good value as the price of other produce skyrockets, but growers face short seed supplies as 2023 begins. FILEKATE AYERS SURREY – Per-acre yields were decent on BC potato farms last year, but acreage was down and lower production means stocks could be tight come early spring. “Normally they would be done planting by sort of mid-May and [in 2022] they were still trying to get potatoes in the ground in June,” says United Potato Growers of Canada general manager Victoria Stamper. Heppell’s Potato Corp. in Surrey is generally the rst to get seeding but even it experienced a delay this year, says production manager Tyler Heppell. The farm was seeding its 220 acres in Campbell Heights in early March but it didn’t complete planting across its properties until mid-June. “[Many] farmers weren't able to get their potatoes in the ground until June because of how much rain there was. We even had some elds that we couldn’t plant until June,” Heppell says. The cool, damp spring contributed to a 1,300-acre decrease in BC’s planted acreage last year, Stamper says. Conditions turned favourable in June and July with next to no precipitation for the last three months of the growing season, but high temperatures throughout August and September sent spuds into self-protection mode and stopped some varieties in their tracks. “You don’t get that same bulking up because the plants are sort of trying to protect themselves, so they’re not putting the same energy into that bulking up and sizing up that they would normally do, so the potatoes end up with a smaller size prole than we might normally see in a regular season,” Stamper says. Fortunately, warm dry weather allowed growers to push harvest into October. Most of the crop was ultimately harvested. Yields averaged 320 hundredweight (cwt) per acre, marginally down from 325 cwt last year. Heppell’s wrapped up harvest of about a dozen varieties on the 600 acres it farms on October 15. “We were lucky enough to have no rain in September and October so were able to extend our growing season longer than we usually get and we were able to get all our product out of the ground,” Heppell says. The smaller crop prole meant yields were down a bit compared to last year, he adds. “Considering the start that they had, I think they were okay with the crop that they got,” Stamper says. “I think it was more a ‘Wow, okay, we got o more than we thought considering where we started from.’” According to Statistics Canada, BC growers harvested 1.6 million cwt of potatoes, 23.1% below the previous year. Given this drop in production, supplies of fresh, processing and seed potatoes are tight. Potato inventories in BC are down about 15% from normal, says BC Fresh president and CEO Murray Driediger. “Last year, we actually had a planned increase in potato acreage, but [with] the late spring, we had to ramp back on some of our plans. But we intend to increase our acreage from previous years this upcoming season slightly,” he says. Driediger expects inventories a year from now will be normal as a result. In total, Canada saw a 0.8% increase in production in 2022 at just shy of 123 million cwt. As the 2023 planting season approaches, growers are once again hoping for ideal weather conditions. “We're hoping for a dry planting season so that we can get all potatoes planted before June, hopefully nish in May,” Heppell says. Whatever challenges this year brings, Stamper says growers are nding ways to adapt and move forward. Some growers are shifting to more heat-resistant spuds while others are looking for varieties that deliver higher yields in a shorter timeframe. “Despite the many challenges, potato growers continue to nd solutions and develop solutions,” Stamper told the Canadian Potato Summit on January 12. Best of all, demand among retailers and consumers has remained strong through the pandemic, and potatoes oer good value versus other staples as food costs rise. “Potatoes continue to be the No. 1 vegetable. It’s the best value per pound in the grocery stores,” she says. “Retailers and consumers still want to put potatoes in their baskets, so that’s a very good thing. Demand is very good across the board for all sectors.” With les from Peter Mitham Potato crop takes a hit but set to rebound in 2023Good crop came in short as hot weather stalled spudsTRACTOR TIME VICTORIA 4377C Metchosin Rd. 250.474.3301 30 minutes from Victoria and 15 minutes from Hwy#1 in Metchosin.HANDLERS EQUIPMENT ABBOTSFORD 339 Sumas Way 604.850.3601HOUSTON 2990 Highway Crescent 250.845.3333
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COUNTRY LIFE IN BC FEBRUARY 2023 | 17Dead Horse Creek Cattle Co. north of Fort St. John, has secured funding from the BC Hydro Peace Agricultural Compensation Fund to install solar-powered water troughs that will help preserve the stability of its dugouts and the quality of its animals’ water supply. SUBMITTEDFarm & Rural ResidentialProperties in the Peace Country are our specialtyAnne H. ClaytonMBA, AACI P App, RIAppraiserJudi LeemingBHE, CRA P AppAppraiser250.email@example.com www.aspengrovepropertyservices.caCOMMITTED TO AGRICULTURE in BRITISH COLUMBIA rollinsmachinery.comCHILLIWACK • 1.800.242.9737 . 44725 Yale Road West • 604.792.1301 LANGLEY • 1.800.665.9060 |. 21869 - 56th Avenue • 604.533.0048 CHEMANIUS • 22.214.171.1243 . 3306 Smiley Road KELOWNA • 250.765.8266 . #201 - 150 Campion Street TRACTORS JD 5090GN 900 HRS, CAB, 4WD, BERRY TRACTOR [U32597] 64,900 KUBOTA M7060 2019, CAB, NO LOADER, 200 HRS [U32830] .. 67,000 NH T4 120 ROPS, LOADER, LOW HOURS [N31691] ................ 79,600 NH TS6.140 [N 31304] ......................................................... 96,500 NH WORKMASTER 105 CAB, LOADER, LOW HOURS (U32946)…. 87,000 QUALITY USED EQUIPMENT BUHLER TRIPLEX MOWER 18’, LIKE NEW [CNS794] .......................... 19,900 CASE 161 DISC MOWER, ROLLER CONDITIONER [U32495] ............ 16,900 CUB CADET LAWN TRACTORS NEW 2022 UNITS, RIDE-ON, O’TURNS . CALL KVERNELAND 9476C RAKE 2017 (U32957)....................................... 33,700 MCHALE FUSION VARIO 2017, 14,000 BALES, [U32135] ......... 85,900 MCHALE 3100 FRONT DISC MOWER [U32621]........................ 17,000 MCHALE R3100 REAR DISC MOWER [U32620] ....................... 17,000 NH FP240 CHOPPER 29P GRASS, 3PN CORN CROP PROCESSOR (CNS786) ............................................................................. 47,500 NH 7330 DISCMOWER FLAIL CONDITIONER, 2 PT SWIVEL HITCH .. 22,500 STACKLINER 1044 BALE WAGON [U32420] .............................. 6,500 KATE AYERS FORT ST. JOHN – A dry fall has some producers in the Peace region taking extra steps to prepare for the 2023 season. Since October 13, the province’s drought working group has rated the Peace at Level 5, the most severe on its six-level drought scale. It’s a stage at which adverse impacts are almost certain. It’s a shift from a year ago, when much of the province, including the Peace, sat at levels 0 and 1. While a signicant dump of snow hit north of Fort St. John during the last week of December and the rst week of January, it won’t impact the drought ratings until it melts, says Bo Hedges of Dead Horse Creek Cattle Co. Half the seasonal snow pack has typically accumulated by January 1, but it stood at 82% of normal (or about 40% of the annual snowpack) on January 1, according to the BC Ministry of Forest’s snow survey and water supply bulletin. The Peace Region sits at 75% of normal, down 24% from last year. “Below-normal snow basin indices are an early indicator for potential spring or summer drought concerns,” the report says. Hedges, along with his parents and younger brother, run 300 cow-calf pairs about an hour up the Alaska Highway from Fort St. John. Located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Hedges hopes that the recent snowfall will contribute to spring runo for the crops and ll up dugouts for the cattle. But rather than relying on hope alone, the Hedges family is taking matters into their own hands to secure water sources for their cattle. The ranch has a Crown grazing lease for about 20,000 acres, comprised of ravines, dense forests and swamps as well as large swaths of open hillside. On top of some of the cleared areas, through BC’s Range Branch, the family installed dugouts for the cattle. The Hedges will use a $19,470 grant from the BC Hydro Peace Agricultural Compensation Fund, which is administered by Northern Development Initiative Trust, to build solar-powered water troughs and protect the dugouts from cattle access. These developments will help ensure the ranch can preserve water sources for their herd and local wildlife. “Things are becoming more expensive and within all of agriculture, it's a very ne prot margin,” Hedges says. “And so, to be able to work with Northern Development as well as the range department to create more sustainable water sources on the range lands, it just seems like a no-brainer.” The troughs will also help keep water clean and the animals healthy. “By keeping the cows from wading out into these dugouts, it allows [the dugouts] to kind of maintain their shape better. As the water levels drop, the cows are going further and further into the mud to try and get the water and then tainting it,” Hedges says. “It's better for the feet, too. If they're walking out there in the mud … you can get foot ailments within the cattle and in wildlife so it just creates better, healthier water.” Feed shortages uLow snowpack worrisome for producersLevel 5 drought in Peace Region has producers preparing for dry spring
18 | FEBRUARY 2023 COUNTRY LIFE IN BCDead Horse Creek Cattle Co. runs 300 cow-calf pairs on a Crown grazing lease of about 20,000 acres. SUBMITTEDu Feed shortages an issueBAUMALIGHT.COMAdair Sales & Marketing Company Inc. 306-773-0996 | firstname.lastname@example.orgMFG OF MINI SKID STEERS AND A VARIETY OF ATTACHMENTS INCLUDINGDRAINAGE PLOWS | TREE SPADES | TREE SAWS & SHEARS | BOOM MOWERS | PTO POWER PACKSBRUSH MULCHERS | ROTARY BRUSH CUTTERS | PTO GENERATORS | AUGER DRIVES | FLAIL MOWERSTREE PULLERS | FELLER BUNCHERS | EXCAVATOR ADAPTERS | SCREW SPLITTERS | TRENCHERS | STUMP GRINDERSWhile the funding will improve water access for cattle when out on range, Hedges is concerned about the drought’s impact on feed stock this year. “This year [drought has] denitely played a role in a little bit less hay than we would normally have. Grass management becomes a bigger issue on the range,” he says, “having to bring the cattle onto the tame grass on the home property potentially earlier than normal.” Feed shortages are not ideal for any rancher, but the situation is even more challenging for producers on the edge of BC’s production areas. “Because of where we are located, we're kind at the north end of the ranching agriculture area. And so, everything for us, you have to haul it a long ways,” Hedges says. “If you're short, everybody's short and then suddenly it starts to compound how much farther you have to haul the hay,” Hedges says. “We try and grow all of our own hay for the winter, which typically we can, and then we buy grain … from local producers to help supplement feed through the wintertime.” For now, Peace producers must wait and see what the next couple of months bring to set up this year’s growing season. “The lack of moisture may have an impact on perennial crops. However, it is too early to say if annual crops will be impacted as they will likely be more reliant on spring moisture,” the BC Ministry of Agriculture and Food says in an email statement. “The drought also may cause an increase in most insect pests including grasshoppers and ea beetles but will likely result in a decrease to diseases which thrive in wet environments.” Lack of moisture For grain producers, the extended fall was appreciated and made harvest a breeze but a lack of soil moisture is an issue. “We don’t get much rain in the fall and then get a lot of rain in the spring, so that’s kind of what we’re dealing with,” says BC Grain Producers Association crop technologist Kristyn Brody. “We keep getting a lot of water in the spring, causing shallow roots. So, once it dries out later in the fall, that's where the big issue really is.” While the Peace Region is generally a dryland farming area, drier seasons are prompting some producers to consider installing irrigation. “We have had a couple people kind of look into the idea of irrigation. I know a couple years ago, there was a bit of research done on irrigation to see if it was even really viable in the area. And there was one area that showed that it could be,” Brody says. Despite the drier falls, weather data from the past two years shows that the Peace Region is still getting about 75% of its average rainfall. To address the weather challenges, producer groups and government are working towards solutions to help farmers protect their operations and ensure business viability. “The Peace River Forage Association is active in addressing drought and climate change in the Peace region. They have several workshops and courses to help producers stabilize their farm business with respect to climate change,” the ministry says.
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC FEBRUARY 2023 | 19Prescribed burns part of three-year study in PeaceStudy will measure soil health, forage production and nutritionShifting Mosaics Consulting and Northern Fire WoRx facilitates training programs to certify producers and ranchers in ghting wildland res, alongside the BC Wildre Service, on their private lands. SUBMITTEDKATE AYERS FORT NELSON – The Peace River Forage Association of BC has received $85,380 from the BC Hydro Peace Agricultural Compensation Fund to support research and training projects. The association received the largest sum of money in the fund’s seventh round of grants, announced in early December. Under the Research and Demonstration Initiatives funding stream, $80,380 will go towards conducting research on the use of prescribed burns to rejuvenate forage lands in the region. The three-year project will assess soil carbon storage by measuring forage production, forage nutrition and soil health. PRFA coordinator Nadia Mori is excited by the project, which has the potential to be a tool not just for carbon sequestration but rejuvenating forage resources in the region. The new funding should help advance work in this area, which could contribute to reconciliation initiatives and the Peace Region Living Labs project. “A lot of the First Nation communities here [are] very interested in bringing back more of their cultural learning practices,” Mori says. The research team includes Shifting Mosaics Consulting, Northern Fire WoRx, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Northeast BC Prescribed Fire Council, First Nations, ranchers and PRFA. In addition to prescribed burns, the team will also examine pyric herbivory, or patch-burn grazing. “That's what agricultural producers are able to integrate in their management, their ranches and their rangelands,” says Sonja Leverkus, ecosystem scientist and owner of Fort Nelson’s Shifting Mosaics Consulting. “Distributing re across their private land, and then having their livestock follow that re across the landscape. About seven to 14 days post-re, crude protein content in a lot of agronomic species is highest and so there's a major ush of nutrients for livestock.” Another major objective of the research project is to develop a program that empowers landowners or tenure holders to use prescribed re as a land management tool. Blueberry River First Nation, located north of Fort St. John in Buick, is a Canadian leader in prescribed burns. The community has a long-term prescribed burn program, Leverkus says. Treaty 8 and Kaska Nations are also keen to be involved, she adds. But getting the project o the ground was not easy. “It's incredibly frustrating because so many people talk about prescribed re, they talk about soil and carbon and wildland re interactions,” Leverkus says. “[But] when we try to nd money to either research it or do it, we have been hitting brick walls.” The research team is working to tap multiple sources of funding in order to deliver what it considers a “really excellent and timely research program.” Leverkus hopes the work will turn into a decades-long project. “Apart from being an ignition specialist, burn boss and ecologist, I'm also an adjunct professor at the University of Alberta,” Leverkus says. “And so, this is part of our wildre analytics lab research. I would hope that this is just the beginning foundation of a prescribed re research program based at the University of Alberta.” Ranchers and landowners can use the historical and cultural tool of prescribed re to improve forage productivity, access and quality. It can also promote diversity and species conservation in rangeland ecosystems. “Time since re and the number of times a place is burned, specically in northern Canada in the boreal forest, drive diversity across the landscape and drive heterogeneity,” Leverkus says, explaining the benets for species composition and distribution of vegetation. Overall, the results from this research could have far-reaching impacts in the agricultural industry and natural landscapes. Research results will be shared regionally, provincially and nationally, which PRFA communications contractor Heather Fossum thinks is one of the most valuable aspects of the project. “There's so many projects that happen that are just about the research and they're not about the sharing of the information,” she says. “[PRFA is] really focused on sharing the information. … That's the real part that brings in producers.” Rotary RakesKuhnNorthAmerica.comVisit your local British Columbia KUHN dealer today!INVEST IN QUALITY®www.kuhn.comMatsqui Ag-RepairAbbotsfordNorthline EquipmentPouce CoupeHuber Farm EquipmentPrince GeorgeTHE MOST COMPLETE HAY LINE Cut • Dry • HarvestSave time, money and improve hay quality with KUHN.THE HAY AND FORAGE TOOL SPECIALISTS Mowers Mower Conditioners Mergers Wheel Rakes Tedders Harvesting high-quality hay and forage is the focus of KUHN's hay tool innovation. 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20 | FEBRUARY 2023 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC21ST ANNUAL BC AGRI-FOOD INDUSTRY GALA 2023 Thank You! BC Agriculture Council would like to thank our sponsors who helped to make the 2023 BC Agri-Food Industry Gala a great success!SupporterChampionFanContributorGlobe PrintersPrins GreenhouseAgSafeClearbrook Grain & MillingCo-operatorsFarm Credit CanadaInvestment Agriculture FoundationWest Coast ReductionUniversity of the Fraser Valley
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC FEBRUARY 2023 | 21Aaron and Pam Tjepkema were turned down by several insurers for their farmgate abattoir before nally securing coverage from BFL Canada. Dozens of other producers aren't so lucky. FACEBOOK February 25, 2023 - 28th Annual Pine Butte Ranch Hereford Bull Sale BC Livestock, Kamloops March 4, 2023 - Richardson Ranch Online Hereford Bull Sale Farm Gate Sale, DLMS.ca March 7 2023 - Briar Ridge Stock Farm 4th Annual Bull Sale VJV Auction, Dawson Creek April 8, 2023 - 48th Annual Vanderhoof All Breeds Bull Sale BC Livestock, Vanderhoof April 13 & 14, 2023 - 86th Annual Williams Lake Bull Show & Sale BC Livestock, Williams Lake BCHA President: John Lewis 250-218-2537 BCHA Secretary: Janice Tapp 250-699-6466 TOM WALKER FORT ST. JOHN – Dozens of new producers granted on-farm meat processing licences since the province overhauled its meat inspection regime in fall 2021 now face hurdles securing insurance coverage. “When we looked into getting coverage for a Farmgate Plus licence for poultry, I was given a hard ‘no,’” says Pam Tjepkema of Peace Vale Farm and Meat Shop in Fort St. John. Peace Vale is a licensed butcher that provides cut-and-wrap for the Tjepkema’s own farm-raised beef as well as that of neighbouring producers. “We have an abattoir in our area and we are happy continuing to use it for our beef, but we were considering raising chickens and would want to process them ourselves,” she says. Tjepkema spoke to a number of insurers before securing what she considered the best possible coverage from Crystal Piggott, an account executive with BFL Canada in Salmon Arm. “She was able to give us coverage for our butcher shop and all of the farm together, but not for a farmgate licence,” Tjepkema says. Country Life in BC spoke to a number of farmgate licence holders across the province who have been unable to obtain coverage. “I’m not sure that any of the farmgate businesses really have insurance,” says Julia Smith, executive director of the Small-Scale Meat Producers Association. “They may think that they have coverage, but when they really study their policy, I am worried that they do not have the coverage they think.” It’s not for lack of trying. Farmgate abattoirs shut out of insuranceInsurers don’t understand new licensing regime, industry The Small-Scale Meat Producers Association is launching a survey about insurance coverage. “Insurance was one of the top issues that came out of the survey we did in 2021,” says Smith. “We want to get a handle on what type of coverage producers and processors have, the cost, and any issues they have had obtaining insurance.” Smith says she is concerned that producers may think that they have coverage, when in fact they do not. “We are hoping that people will actually pull out their insurance documents and look, in order to understand what they have,” she says. “Who reads their insurance policy? I haven’t in the past, but with the oods here in the Nicola Valley we learned the hard way that sometimes you don’t have the coverage that you think you have.” The survey will be anonymous. “We will only use aggregate data,” Smith says. “We will want to know something about the scale of your operation, what insurance you do have and what sort you wish that you would have but couldn’t get and what are some of the barriers people have faced.” —Tom WalkerSurvey explores insurance coverageInsurance challenges u“We’ve been ghosted,” is how one long-time South Coast licensee described the frustration of dealing with insurance companies (the producer asked for anonymity as the operation’s lease could be jeopardized by a lack of insurance). “We would initiate a conversation and they just wouldn’t get back to us, which is odd, because an insurance company is usually all over you to get your business.” The government has moved to bring more regulation to the industry and open up more opportunities for processing, but a lack of insurance is creating issues for producers. “This is critical and can’t be ignored. We need some support,” the South Coast licensee says. “The government has taken steps to make us more legal. We should be insurable. Bungee-jumping and zip-line companies are, but we have been unable to obtain even partial coverage for either our house, our buildings or for the inventory of meat that we keep on site when we explain that we have a Farmgate licence for on-farm processing.” Insurance hasn’t been a problem for one government-inspected facility. “We were able to get coverage when we opened our slaughter plant to go with our cut-and-wrap this fall,” says Dean Maynard, co-owner of Farmhouse Butchery in Westbridge. “The fact that you have a government inspector YOURHelping YouWEEKLY FARM NEWS UPDATESYOURping Youpingpgpping YouiWSWSSign up for FREE today
22 | FEBRUARY 2023 COUNTRY LIFE IN BCu Insurance challengesv4200W Model ShownDESIGNEDFOR HARSH CONDITIONS• 34” high mouldboard• Spring trip on cutting edge• Bucket edge mount or Qtach available• Replaceable, reversible steel cutting edge• Replaceable, reversible rubber cutting edge (OPTIONAL)• Skid shoes optional• 36” deep ﬁxed endplates• Available in 10’ 12’ 14’ widths• 2 Year Commercial WarrantyMax Operating Weight 25,000 LB.• Spring trip on cutting edge• 34” high mouldboard• Lateral ﬂoat• Two angle cylinders• Hydraulic 35º angle either direction• Replaceable, reversible steel cutting edge• Replaceable, reversible rubber cutting edge (OPTIONAL)• Skid shoes• Cross-over relief valve protection• Heavy duty construction• Available in 9’ 10’ 12’ 14’ widths• 2 Year Commercial WarrantyMax Operating Weight 25,000 LB.1.866.567.4162 www.hlasnow.comHave you herd? VBP+ TrainingWorkshops or Webinarsare Free!Looking to learn moreabout how to raisehealthy beef cattle?Open to producers of allsizes!free to all beef producersin bc!Producer Check-o Supports Beef Industry Projects.www.cattlefund.net 1.877.688.2333www.cattlefund.net 1.877.688.2333KATE AYERS WILLIAMS LAKE – The Stswecem'c Xget'tem First Nation (SXFN) has acquired the BC Cattle Co. as part of the province’s treaty negotiations with the Northern Secwepemc te Qelmucw (NStQ). The deal, valued at $19.6 million, gives SXFN title to 19,274 acres of ranch lands and grazing licences on 138,379 acres of Crown land. The province bought the property from Vancouver mining executive Ross Beaty last fall for $16 million to address NStQ’s treaty claims. Beaty bought the ranch in spring 2022 for an undisclosed sum. The province will also support SXFN transition to ranch ownership with payments of $2.25 million for current livestock and equipment, grant funding of up to $750,000 for rst-year operating costs and a $600,000 to acquire additional ranching assets, including livestock and equipment. The province says the arrangement not only provides direct economic benets to the SXFN but benets the entire region's economy with expanded cattle operations. BC Cattlemen’s Association general manager Kevin Boon says the ranch’s transfer to SXFN is positive, as the association has never felt Crown land should be the sole source of settlement lands. “One of the things that we felt was an advantage was to give the First Nations the opportunity to get established ranches or get ranches that were operating so that it wasn't a challenge for them to start a whole new operation and would really contribute to the quick turnaround for them to be able to realize income o that land base and industry,” he says. “That is something we've fully supported.” Since 2018, the province has acquired three ranches for NStQ as part of treaty Ranch used as part of treaty settlementStswecem'c Xget'tem regain title to nearly 19,275 acres negotiations. NStQ, also known as the Northern Shuswap Tribal Council, represents four member bands: SXFN (Canoe Creek-Dog Creek), T’exelc (Williams Lake First Nation), Xatśūll First Nation (Soda Creek Indian Band) and Tsq’escen’ (Canim Lake Band). Two full ranches have been acquired and one partial ranch, Boon says. In addition to BC Cattle Co., the former Carpenter Mountain Ranch (now Mountain House Ranch) was purchased for the Xatśūll First Nation in August 2020. Another ranch sale may be in the pipeline, but the province has not yet made an announcement. While litigation was threatened in the past regarding a lack of transparency in the treaty negotiation process, BCCA was included in conversations around the sale of BC Cattle Co. “[We’re] giving some advice to government more than anything along the way on how to accommodate a transition in a way that is acceptable to all,” says Boon. “I think the government is working hard to do that.” The acquisition of BC Cattle Co. has been a long-standing goal of the SXFN, and establishes an approach for addressing treaty-range overlaps within SXFN’s portion of the larger NStQ territory. “Our Elders brought the land issue forward to governments many times over the years, but it always fell on deaf ears,” says SXFN Kukpi7 Hillary Adam in a statement announcing the acquisition. “[But] we never gave up hope that it would be ours someday.” BC ranches are in high demand, particularly among foreign buyers and corporate executives like Beaty, said NIHO Land & Cattle Co. founder Rudy Nielsen, whose company deals in ranch properties. Beaty’s original intention for the property was conservation. When he became aware of the province’s ongoing discussions with NStQ and its interest in purchasing the lands, he decided to sell the ranch to the province with the proceeds establishing a trust for the environmental stewardship of the ranch lands that’s contingent on a biodiversity agreement between himself and SXFN. The deal was also great news for the Grasslands Conservation Council of BC, which works to ensure the conservation, restoration and stewardship of BC’s grasslands through integrated partnerships and collaboration. “GCC congratulates the Stwecem'c Xget'tem First Nation for acquiring the BC Cattle Co.,” the council says in an email statement. “The incredible generosity of Ross Beaty will create a trust that will help steward the site to being one of BC’s best examples of biodiversity-focused ranching.” on site at all times really makes a dierence.” Piggott says government inspection is key. “If a producer gets the slaughter done at a provincially inspected facility, we are able to put together coverage for the farm and an on-site butcher shop,” she says. “But we have a concern with on-farm slaughter, whether they may be taking in other animals besides their own, and also the disposal of the processing waste.” But insurers may not fully understand the new licensing system, and producers say it’s government’s job to explain it. “We didn’t put together a full package to support our request for poultry farmgate coverage as we are pretty busy,” says Tjepkema. “There is an opportunity for the government to explain to the insurance industry what the farmgate licence requires, including the SlaughterSafe course, the development of a food safety plan, standard operating procedures, and a minimum of a yearly inspection.” SSMPA is working to ll the gap, Smith says. “We are working with dierent insurance companies to explain the system to them and try to see if we can build a group plan for our members,” she explains. “But we also hope that the government will move towards more virtual inspection services. They’ve talked about it, our members are in favour of it, and it could help with insurance coverage.”
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC FEBRUARY 2023 | 23Climate-resilient cattle take shape at TRUNovel project uses genetics to breed heat, cold-tolerant cowsBred to take the heat. And the cold! Researchers at Thompson Rivers University are using genetics to create a new breed of “Climate Master” cows that will be more tolerant of high and low temperatures. TOM WALKER“Serving and Supporting the Community Together”PROVINCIALLY INSPECTED ABATTOIR B.C. #34ALL SIZES MARKET GOATS & LAMBS604.465.4752 (Ext 105)FAX 604.465.4744 email@example.comTurnin soi sinc 1899. Cultivatin Craf Bee sinc 2019.Grown and brewed on-farm in Ladner, B.C.www.barnsidebrewing.caAsk for us at your local beer storeAsk for us at your local beer storeAsk for us at your local beer storeTOM WALKER BEAVERDELL – The calves in Wyatt Cook’s pen look like ordinary brown cows, but the Beaverdell rancher and the team he is working with are hoping they are breeding an animal with special traits. “We like to call them Climate Master cows,” Cook chuckles, recalling a name his research partner and friend John Church has come up with. “We are developing an animal that we hope will be able to do well in both hot and cold environments.” Cook has 20 of the special calves on his ranch 80 km east of Kelowna. They are a cross between Galloway, Senapol and Red Angus, born in January 2022. “We kept them at the ranch through the rest of the winter and they did well, and then we put them out on pasture for the summer,” Cook says. “They were too special to put out on our summer range.” Church, an assistant professor and cattle research chair at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, has been studying how cattle respond to the impacts of climate change for several years. He notes that the death of thousands of cattle in Kansas feedlots in June 2021 and in California in 2017 shows that temperatures over 38°C can be lethal for beef animals. But the impact on beef production comes well before temperatures hit those extremes, he notes. “Cattle don’t sweat very well,” explains Church. “Long before the risk of mortality, when temperatures reach the mid 20s, they start to show signs of heat stress.” Most of the BC cattle herd is out on range during the summer, usually at cooler elevations, but feedlots are a dierent story. “Cattle begin to eat less and have poorer feed eciency. That aects their average daily weight gain in the feedlot,” Church says. “If it is hot during mating season, both bull fertility and embryo survival are also lower.” While temperatures hit a record 49.5°C at the Kamloops airport during the June 2021 heat wave, cold winter temperatures also concern Church. “Winter feed is a major cost for the BC and Canadian industry,” he says. “As the temperature drops below about -19, -20°C, beef cattle eat more to keep warm and that raises the cost of production.” The Scottish Galloway breed is known for its thick winter coat. The Senapol are a breed developed on the Caribbean island of St. Croix and later brought to the southern US that have a natural mutation that makes them heat-tolerant and more able to sweat, Church explains. “But they have a very short, slick hair coat and wouldn’t do well in our winters, so we wondered what some cross breeding might do,” he says. The team built embryos using Galloway eggs and semen from a three-quarter Senapol, quarter Red Angus cross bull. The embryos were planted in surrogate cows. Cook says the calves born in the dead of winter were “doers.” “They were around 75-85 pounds and strong,” he says. “The rst thing we noticed was the thick hair coat they developed for the cold.” But going into summer the calves shed that hair down to a short, slick coat. “Their hide was also thicker and tougher so it was a bit more eort to vaccinate them, but they are not as bothered by ies,” he says. Cook says he is happy with the way the calves have performed. “We saw no respiratory problems or pink eye,” he says. “They did well at over 30°C heat out on pasture. They weren’t hiding under a tree in the shade and they kept eating well.” He says the calves were weaned in October and had no issues taking to feed. “We have had several days of -23, -24°C already, but I haven’t seen them eating more because of the cold,” he says. The research team includes Paul Adams, director of the Applied Genomics Centre at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Surrey, who is supporting the breeding process with DNA genotyping. Traditional breeding can be a long process, Adams says. “In the past you would breed two animals and hope that the characteristics that you liked would appear together in the ospring,” he says. “We can now actually read the DNA and that takes some of the guess-work out. We know if an animal has the genetic code that we want, and based on that we can accurately determine the likelihood of that trait being passed to the ospring.” Adams says that geneticists have identied the gene alleles that create the heat tolerance in Senapol. “It is a dominant trait, meaning that it will always be passed on if the Senapol are cross-bred with another animal,” he explains. Adams says that DNA testing conrmed that the genes that support heat tolerance were passed on to the hybrid animals. “We sampled the calves’ DNA to conrm that they have the gene alleles, but you never know how the trait will respond within the full genetic context in the new animal and the environment,” he says. For example, researchers could not predict how heat tolerance would aect the length of the coat. “We almost have too much of a coat for our weather,” says Church. “We have noticed that they don’t shed until late June and that would be a problem with the heat dome we had in June 2021.” Church says he has a small number of Red Angus and Senapol crosses at another ranch outside of Kamloops. “The Angus coat may be sucient for our winters,” he says. Cook says they will install bolus monitors from Moonsyst Smart Rumen Monitoring that will allow them to track rumen temperature, water intake and other health conditions. Church will y drones to sample hide temperatures during the heat of summer. “We are going to see how this works before we get too carried away, but we do hope to establish a breeding program,” Cook says.
24 | FEBRUARY 2023 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC FEBRUARY 2023 | 25Hedy Dyck, right, receives the BC Landscape and Nursery Association’s Lifetime of Outstanding Service Award from Jeff Foley, president and CEO of Para Space Landscaping (middle) and BCLNA director Heike Stippler (left) at her retirement party in November. FACEBOOKSave water, save energy, save labor and do a better job of irrigating. NELSONIRRIGATION.COM Automatically change the arc of throw on traveling Big Gun® sprinklers. Find efciency and heavy-duty reliability in Nelson Control Valves. Achieve unmatched uniformity with eld-proven Rotator® technology.SR150 BIG GUN®ARC TIMERACV200800 SERIESCONTROL VALVESR2000WF ROTATOR® & MINI REGULATOR DRAIN CHECKJapanese beetle continues to spreadPETER MITHAM PORT COQUITLAM – The ght against Japanese beetle is far from over, despite good progress against the invasive pest in Vancouver. The past year saw “signicant detections” of the insect at sites in Port Coquitlam, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. A record 5,928 traps were set at sites in Vancouver, Richmond, Burnaby and Port Coquitlam last year, with detections in Port Coquitlam leading the region at 126. This is more than half the 206 detections recorded last year. “These detections indicate that there may be a viable Japanese beetle population,” a CFIA bulletin to industry stated last fall. Port Coquitlam has been a signicant concern for authorities. A single female beetle was found in 2020 on a major transportation corridor, raising fears that an established population in the area could easily hitch a ride out and spread across the region. The worsening situation in Port Coquitlam contrasts with the beetle’s ongoing decline in Vancouver. An initial detection in Vancouver’s False Creek neighbourhood in 2017 initiated the set-up of an interagency working group to tackle the issue and an aggressive spray program. If left unchecked, Japanese beetle could cost the region’s growers tens of millions of dollars. The eort has so far worked; detections in Vancouver totaled 39 last year, down from 8,275 in 2018. Detections outside the regulated area in Vancouver have not worsened the situation in the city, though a growing number of detections in Port Coquitlam as well as Burnaby are no cause for complacency. BC Landscape and Nursery Association members were updated on the ght against the pest at their annual general meeting, November 22. The meeting was followed by a retirement party for long-time BCLNA sta member and former COO Hedy Dyck. Dyck was honoured for her contributions to the sector, including the instrumental role she played in the collaborative response between industry and three levels of government to Japanese beetle. Dyck announced her retirement last fall, following a brief medical leave earlier in the year that saw Virpi Kangas step into her role as acting COO. Kangas has now taken on the role full-time. Dyck continues to serve the association as a consultant but is no longer on sta with the association, where she served for 21 years. In recognition of her contributions, Dyck received BCLNA’s Lifetime of Outstanding Service Award. “Hedy has had a remarkable career dedicated to providing advocacy, support and solutions,” BCLNA says. “Hedy has worked tirelessly over the past two decades, being an example of dedication to the industry.” Nearly 6,000 traps were set last year
26 | FEBRUARY 2023 COUNTRY LIFE IN BCCombat Phytophthora root rot to maintain yieldOrondis® Gold fungicide protects blueberries from the devastating effects of Phytophthora root rot. It contains metalaxyl-M (Group 4) and oxathiapiprolin – the only Group 49 fungicide on the market – for powerful protection under a wide range of weather conditions. It also provides excellent residual control for longer lasting protection. For more information, visit Syngenta.ca, contact our Customer Interaction Centre at 1-87-SYNGENTA (1-877-964-3682) or follow @SyngentaCanada on Twitter.Always read and follow label directions. Orondis Gold is a soil application of Orondis Gold A and Orondis Gold B fungicides. Orondis®, the Alliance Frame, the Purpose Icon and the Syngenta logo are trademarks of a Syngenta Group Company. Other trademarks are property of their respective owners. © 2022 Syngenta.Orondis_Gold_Print_Ad_2022_CountryLifeBC_10_25 x 14_65.indd 1 2022-01-11 1:16 PM
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC FEBRUARY 2023 | 27Field trial shows alternative to traditional cropsShort-season forage crops fill in when conditions go southOliver Balme of Cobble Hill's Balme Ayr Farms is standing in a eld trial of alternative annual silage crops including spring oats, Jeanne Italian ryegrass and forage peas. BALME AYR FARMSGreenhouse Ground CoverGreenhouse FilmProtection NetsMulch Film Landscaping FabricsShade Nets Bale WrapsBunker CoversSilage BagsTwine & Net WrapsHay TarpsForage & Grain Seed1.800.663.6022ofﬁce@silagrow.com5121 - 46 Ave S.E. Salmon Arm, BCPick Up & Delivery Only 112-18860 24 Ave. Surrey, BCsilagrow.comUSED EQUIPMENT MAS H125 TILLER, 2012, 50” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3,500 KUBOTA K76249H 76” SKIDSTEER SNOWBLOWER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7,500 USED TRACTORS KUBOTA T2380 2017, 48” DECK . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4,500 KUBOTA BX2360 2010, 1,900HRS, TRAC/MWR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9,750 TORO 328D 48” MOWER, 2,900 HRS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4,500 KUB GR2110-54 2010, DIESEL, 54” DECK, GRASS CATCHER . . . . . . . 9,000 GRAVELY ZTHD60 2017, 60” ZERO TURN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6,500 KUB F2880 2006, 1,411HRS, 60” REAR DISCHARGE . . . . . . . . . . . . 11,500 KUB F3990 2015, 72” SIDE DISHARGE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22,500 JD 4044M 2021, 265HRS, TRACTOR W/ LOADER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46,950 JD 3320 2005, 1,150HRS, TRAC/LDR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25,000 NEW INVENTORY: GREENWORKS COMMERCIAL CORDLESS BLOWERS, CHAINSAWS, STRING TRIMMERS, HEDGE TRIMMERS, LAWNMOWERS. 82/48 VOLT KUBOTA RAKES, TEDDERS, MOWERS, POWER HARROWS - CALL! RAIN-FLO MULCH LAYERS, MULCH LIFTERS & TRANSPLANTERS, IN-STOCK OMH PROSCREEN, TOPSOIL SCREENERS. 68”, 78” AND 108” MODELSSee you at the ISLANDS AG SHOW FEB 3/4r#BMBOTB$MPWFSr'PSBHF,BMFr#FSTFFN$MPWFSr%BJLPO3BEJTIr$SJNTPO$MPWFSr'PSBHF4XFEFr)ZCSJE$MPWFSr'PSBHF5VSOJQ"TLVTIPXKATE AYERS CHEMAINUS – Producers and researchers came together on a cold and snowy November day at Porter’s Dairy south of Nanaimo to discuss the potential of alternative annual silage crops for dairy and beef operations. Following two years of trials, agriculture/wildlife consultant and contractor Graeme Fowler presented the results and lessons learned from a demonstration project of crop mixes at Porter’s Dairy and Balme Ayr Farms Ltd. in Cobble Hill. While the event was sold out, snow prevented some producers from making it to the November 30 eld day. Attendance totalled 35. “It was surprising to me that the majority of farmers that showed were large commercial operators,” Fowler says. “Right or wrong, my opinion of who would be interested in these trials would be the smaller land holder who doesn't have the investment in equipment. So, it was quite surprising to me to see the large commercial fellows out, which kind of shows the need for short-rotation crops.” The objective of the demonstration project was to determine intercropping mixes that farmers can use in a short growing season due to a late spring start when corn is no longer a feasible option. “What these crops were intended to do was ll a gap where, for whatever reason, the farmers don't believe they can get a corn crop in successfully and o successfully mature in the time or heat units,” Fowler says. Crops for the project were chosen based on their ability to be harvested in about 60 days, as well as seed availability, supplier recommendations and farmer input. The composition of a mix from Top Shelf Feeds was 70% Maverick barley, 27% Amarillo eld pea and 3% double-cut Red Clover and Pacic Forage and Bag Supply provided a mix comprising 78.2% spring oats, 13.1% Jeanne Italian ryegrass and 8.7% forage peas. The seed mixes aim to improve forage yields and provide livestock with a little bit more energy through the grains, not just through proteins from the grasses, Fowler explains. The rst trial was at Balme Ayr Farms in 2021. The previous crop was grass and pre-plant weed control was good. Commercial fertilizer was applied, and producer Oliver Balme planted 2.5 acres of each seed mix at 110 pounds per acre on July 2, with a zero-till drill. Irrigation was via a travelling gun system. A warm wet spring at the beginning of the growing season was followed by the heat dome in June, which brought drought and severe heat. The heat and lack of precipitation that followed the heat dome that summer negatively aected the crops and irrigation systems struggled to keep up, Fowler says. Balme harvested the crops on September 15, allowing for Crops performed uYOURHelping YouHelping YouWEEKLY FARMNEWS UPDATESSign up for FREE.coucountrylifeinbc.comylifeinbc.comKLYMSATESE.
28 | FEBRUARY 2023 COUNTRY LIFE IN BCu Crops performed better than expected in less-than-ideal conditionsa 75-day growing season. Baling took place September 16 due to the threat of heavy rain. At completion of the trial, the barley mix had a moisture of 81% and the oat mix was 77.6%. The barley mix yielded 1.1 tons per acre dry matter with 16.1% crude protein, and the oat mix yielded 1.87 tons per acre dry matter with 17% crude protein. “Given the challenges of this year’s demonstration project – the late start, excessive heat, limited precipitation – we were impressed at how the crops performed,” Balme says. The trial was repeated in 2022 on elds in Cassidy, just south of Nanaimo, leased by Porter’s Dairy. Last year provided slightly better growing conditions, Fowler says. A cool wet spring was followed by drought conditions. The Porters participated in the trial because their elds were too wet to plant corn, though the family anticipated a corn crop earlier in the spring and fertilized accordingly. “In the one eld we put the fertilizer on for the corn but then we couldn’t get in with the corn planter,” says farm owner Don Porter. “So that had a fairly good crop because there was a pile of fertilizer on it.” Another eld that the Porters used for the trial had been submerged in salt water from a dike break in 2019. “And this is the rst year we've had anything showing green there actually and the barley and oats did not too bad really. For the last three years there hasn't been anything growing there because of the salt water in the eld,” Porter says. The Porter’s Dairy site has overhead pivot irrigation. The one eld was previously in corn and pre-plant weed control was excellent. The crop mixes were planted on June 20 at 110 pounds per acre with a zero-till drill. The crop was harvested on August 24, allowing for a 65-day growing season and baling occurred on August 26 under ideal conditions. The moisture content of the barley mix was 58.3% and the oat mix was 59.4%. The barley mix yielded 1.45 tons per acre dry matter with 13.8% crude protein while the oat mix yielded 2.55 tons per acre dry matter with 13.6% crude protein. In hindsight, Porter says he would have planted corn if he’d known the province would be blessed with a long warm, dry fall. “We had … so much wet weather and then all of a sudden it did turn good. So, we could have probably planted corn later,” Porter says. “But we’ve always had in our minds that at certain times of the year [crops need to be planted]. And after that, we don't have enough heat units.” While the intercropping or whole-crop mixtures cannot compete with corn in terms of volume, feed quality and energy, the harvested crop provided decent protein and feedstock for the non-milking herd. “The majority of these bales, because of the growing conditions and/or the maturity of when they were harvested, they were fed to the yearlings and/or dry cows rather than the milk herd,” Fowler says. Feed quality impacts on production could not be teased out from the data as the crops were fed in a mixed ration. “So, you can't really give any indication [of ] great feed or poor-quality feed when it's in that mixed ration,” Fowler says. But following the trial, the Porter family said the quality of the forage would have been high enough for the milking cows if the crop mixtures had been harvested a bit earlier than they were. Demonstration trials or new practices on the farm involve learning along the way. Fortunately, intercropping is a relatively low-risk option in a suboptimal year, Fowler says. Alternative forages often need minimal water and fertilizer. Another benet is the opportunity to double-crop. A short-season forage crop can be followed with a cover crop, which can then be used as green manure, harvested or plowed under in the spring. Overall, the main takeaways from this two-year demonstration project are to start with a clean seeding site. Producers may need to spray herbicides twice prior to planting in early and late May. “Legumes don't like a lot of the sprays. And sprays for grains are dierent than sprays for grasses. So … you kind of have to have a really good plan ahead and be on top of your weed control prior to planting these combination crops,” Fowler says. The second lesson learned is to plant earlier, if possible – say, late May or early June – and harvest earlier than September. Thirdly, zero-till drills worked well to plant the crop mixtures. Lastly, soil moisture is very important at certain growth stages. This project was funded by the BC Dairy Association and federal and provincial governments through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership. PRINCE GEORGE | KAMLOOPS | KELOWNA | CHILLIWACK | LANGLEY | NANAIMO WWW.PCE.CA 1-877-553-3373The L341R High-Density Baler builds on the established tried-and-true qualities of reliability, serviceability and productivity to make consistent high-density bales.MEET OUR NEW L341RHigh-Density Large Baler30% Bale Weight IncreaseBalerAssist™John Deere OperationsCentre™ CompatibilityIntegrated PrecisionsAgriculture TechnologiesIntroducing the new L341R. We’ve increased bale weight by 30%, saving you time and money.Have conﬁdence in each bale with our brand new technology offering of Bale Doc. Talk to your local PrairieCoast equipment today for more information on the L341R Baler. “You kind of have to have a really good plan ahead and be on top of your weed control prior to planting these combination crops.” GRAEME FOWLER
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC FEBRUARY 2023 | 29Wild Flight Farm employees Danielle and Jessica complete the last of the leek harvest for the season. Cold hardy vegetables – and the capacity to store them – are a good choice for market gardeners looking to extend their selling season. WILD FLIGHT FARMProudly certifying Producers and Processorswithin BC and Alberta.FVOPA provides year round certiﬁcation services compliant with the Canadian Organic Standards (CAN/CGSB) and in accordance with the BC Certiﬁed Organic ISO 17065 recognized program. Products may be sold Canada-wide and in international markets. FVOPA ensures an efﬁcient, professional certiﬁcation process for all farm, processing and handling operations. Inspectors are lOlA trained and qualiﬁed making FVOPA a leading Certiﬁcation Agency.Message 604-607-1655Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgPhone 604-789-7586P.O. Box 18591Delta, BC V4K 4V7Phone: 778-434-3070 202-4841 Delta Street email@example.com Delta, BC V4K 2T9 www.fvopa.ca Proudly certifying Organic Operators across Canada Fraser Valley Organic Producers Association (FVOPA) offers organic certication services for producers, processors, packaging and labelling contractors, distributors, and various organic service providers. We pride ourselves on exceptional customer service and we welcome new members year-round. FVOPA certies to the Canadian Organic Standards and to the Canada Organic Regime (COR). Certied products may bear the Canada Organic logo and be marketed Canada-wide and internationally. KATE AYERS MARA – Most Canadians are accustomed to having a diverse array of bountiful produce available 12 months of the year thanks to international imports, but winter storage facilities can help vegetable growers take back market share. The global food supply chain has atrophied BC’s agricultural industry, says Hermann Bruns, who with his wife Louise has operated Wild Flight Farm in Mara for the past 30 years. The couple have a 14-acre market garden on 28 acres that back onto the Shuswap River. “There's a lot of hype about vertical farms, hydroponics, all those sorts of things and growing indoors,” he says. “Governments [are] willing to throw money at really dubious greenhouse production models that just are never going to economically work, from my perspective anyway, not in most parts of BC.” Instead of investing in expensive technologies, Bruns says growers should focus on growing crops that thrive in local growing conditions and extend their marketing window with storage facilities. Crops such as cabbage, potatoes, beets and rutabaga do well when stored at the right temperatures, Bruns says. “Vegetables were designed to do this, to store,” Bruns says. “Before we had the ability to import from California or Europe … [farmers] grew things and stored them. And I think we've kind of lost sight of that.” For example, people could make cabbage salads, instead of relying on lettuce and spinach 365 days a year, he says. “Right at the moment greens are just insanely expensive,” Bruns says. “Why not buy this cabbage that can give you like ve times the meals for the same price as the spinach that you want to buy. … It's a very productive crop and you can get a lot o of a eld and then you can just sell it in the winter and the storage costs are not that high.” Kevin Klippenstein of Klippers Organic Acres in Cawston also believes consumers should buy local instead of shopping at large grocers that often source produce internationally. “I think it's just going to get more and more costly to import food and we need to support local producers more and more,” he says. “We don't want the local producers to suddenly go, ‘You know what? I’m done. Let’s just all buy at Costco.’” Cash flow On-farm storage of fresh produce as well as value-added products help extend the marketing opportunities for Klippenstein. "Being able to store food during the winter and keeping that cash ow happening really helps with business ,” he says. “We also dry a lot of fruit for winter sales and preserve a lot of food (salsa, pickles, jam, etc.) to use up fresh product that perhaps we would not be able to sell in the fresh market at the time.” Wild Flight has invested in on-farm storage and packing facilities as part of its business model, allowing the Bruns to attend farmers markets year-round in Salmon Arm and Revelstoke. The couple also supply home delivery companies in Vernon and Kelowna. The rst frost in Mara usually arrives in late September, so the farm has 14 high tunnels to extend the growing season. But instead of heating a greenhouse through the winter to further extend the growing season, Bruns built several storage rooms for dierent crops to extend his marketing window. “We have things like potatoes and carrots and beets and onions and garlic, squash, cabbage. We do celeriac, watermelon radish. We kind of dove into some unusual things as well like parsnips, turnips, rutabagas,” Bruns says. “Then we also buy from other nearby farms to augment our winter storage. We don't grow carrots very well here because the soil is kind of heavy. So, we try to buy carrots from other organic farms in the area. And On-farm storage helps boost profitabilityProper facilities keep sales viable all year round Start small uRENEWyourSubscriptionDon’t forget toRESubscripforg
30 | FEBRUARY 2023 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC PRE-OWNED EQUIPMENT CASE IH MAGNUM 190 CVT MFD TRACTOR ROW CROP TIRES CALL FOR DETAILS CASE IH MAXXUM 145CVT CALL FOR DETAILS CLAAS ORBIS 750 CORNHEAD CALL FOR DETAILS CASE IH FARMALL 95A MFD ROPS TRACTOR WITH LOADER CALL FOR DETAILS CLAAS 860 SP FORAGE HARVESTER 12.5’ PICKUP & 6-ROW CORNHEAD $93,700 CLAAS JAG 870 SP FORAGE HARVESTER 10’ PICKUP & 6-ROW CORNHEAD CALL FOR MORE DETAILS/PRICING CLAAS 970 SP FORAGE HARVESTER 10’ PICKUP & 10-ROW CORNHEAD CALL FOR MORE DETAILS/PRICING KUHN GF7802THA TEDDER CALL FOR DETAILS NH T4.75 TRACTOR ROPS MFD WITH LOADER CALL FOR DETAILS www.caliberequipment.ca STORE HOURS MONDAY-FRIDAY, 8-5 CLOSED SATURDAYS604-864-2273 860 RIVERSIDE ROAD ABBOTSFORD More Crops. Less Ash.we buy apples and pears so that we can oer those to our customers as well from organic orchards as far south as Cawston.” Indeed, the ability to generate sales for 12 months of the year as a market garden bolsters the bottom line. “I think [storage] opens up a lot of business opportunity and exibility for the producer. During the winter, they can sometimes get a better price or more consistent price for their products,” says Kootenay and Boundary Farm Advisors program coordinator Rachael Roussin. “If they can keep oering vegetables through the winter, it kind of gives any producer a competitive edge.” To ensure Wild Flight Farm’s vegetables are viable throughout the year, Bruns has six rooms to accommodate the best storage conditions for each of his storable crops. There is a room each for fruits; vegetables including carrots, beets, rutabaga and cabbage; onions and garlic; squash; potatoes, and a working cooler that runs all summer. A separate room is used for packing. Last year’s late and wet spring challenged some crops, including cabbage, and yields were down. But the warm and long fall boosted yields for other crops. Then, the cold of winter hit hard and early, which cost Wild Flight some of its kale and leeks. Overall yields were average for the year, but Bruns says this winter’s stocks are lower than normal. Producers who are interested in storing vegetables should start small and scale up as needed, Bruns says. “If they are market vegetable growers like we are, just start with a few things,” Bruns says. “We started small … and then bit by bit we've just increased the size to be able to store the amounts that we have and need to be able to carry us through the winter. It's just a matter of starting o with what you think you need and building that and then at some point, be prepared to add on to it.” While many farmers express interest in installing food storage systems on their farms for business and food security, it is costly to develop sophisticated winter storage facilities. Roussin suspects that most producers in the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary have some type of storage capacity. “It ranges from the most homemade, hodgepodge kind of DIY root cellar, all the way to an actual refrigerated storage,” she says. “The range is massive. Probably about 10% of producers have … controlled cooling environments.” But for the smaller scale farms, the return on investment may take some time. “The investment in infrastructure to make these storage solutions attainable by farmers, it’s cost prohibitive in many instances,” Roussin says. “I feel like so many producers know that they want enhanced, or more reliable winter storage, but is it worth those investments? That's where we get caught up a bit.” Despite the barriers, big and small, new and established producers want ongoing learning opportunities to nail down their food storage protocols. “We get requests from producers from the smallest scale to the largest scale every year wanting to know more about winter storage, and what's the right infrastructure for dierent crops,” Roussin says. “I'd say that there's always an opportunity to teach and learn and share about overwintering vegetables, and it's always a topic for extension.” However, the Kootenay and Boundary area at least, needs more than winter storage to move the needle on improving food security, Roussin says. “We need to continue to support local growers, but overall, we just don't have a lot of local regional production. That's just the reality.” u Start small and gradually build capacity for storage cropsCreating ideal storage conditions for crops is challenging but can help improve cash ow long after the growing season. SUBMITTED
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC FEBRUARY 2023 | 31Off-grid farming shows what’s possible in the East KootenaysNo electricity? No problem for Harold Tichenor of Sunpower Farm in Skookumchuk, north of Cranbrook. With his wife, Jessica, he has embraced living and farming off the grid. SUBMITTEDTRACEY FREDRICKSON SKOOKUMCHUK – Jessica and Harold Tichenor have renovated several properties over the years, developing their building and gardening skills to where they could tackle extremely challenging projects. At a point in their lives when most farmers are thinking about retirement, they bought an o-grid property in the East Kootenays that turned out to be one of their most ambitious – and rewarding – adventures. For several years, the couple divided their time between their permanent residence on Bowen Island and a property they developed in Rexford, Montana, one of the oldest Amish settlements in the state. They were strongly inuenced by their Amish neighbours’ approach to farming, which avoids using motorized mechanical equipment and incorporates traditional methods to plan, raise and harvest products. “We had a good-size garden and I was encouraged to consider growing for farmers markets, but I couldn’t do that in Montana because I was not a US citizen,” Jessica says. In 2005, the Tichenors, then in their late 50s, set their sights on the Kootenays as the location for their next project. They purchased a 230-acre parcel in the town of Skookumchuk, a small rural community north of Cranbrook in the Rocky Mountain Trench, abundant with rivers and lakes. The land had been cleared in 1910 and sat undeveloped for years. “Our philosophy is If you want to be a successful grower, grow where no one else is growing,” says Jessica. Skookumchuk met that criteria with less than 100 residents and not much more than a convenience store, RV park and campground. Jessica describes the land when they purchased it as “total wilderness,” forest and bottom land with approximately 4,200 feet of frontage on Tamarack Lake. “It was so beautiful and private, accessible from a driveway almost a mile long. We thought living here would be a once in a lifetime opportunity.” Like the prospectors that came to the area to pan for gold in the 1800s, they jumped in to see what they could accomplish with the gem they had found. They lived in a log cabin with a small solar energy system for several summers, eventually building a house and shop and expanding the array of solar panels. When the house was complete, they turned their focus to creating a sizeable market garden and named the property Sunpower Farm. An eighth of an acre was initially devoted to the garden, which required signicant soil amendments. Seventy acres of the property consisted of receded lakebed with seven feet of sandy loam topsoil. “At rst, we couldn’t even grow lettuce there,” Jessica recalls. “When we started spreading certied organic alfalfa hay in the fall, the soil quality improved every year. Today we have deep black soil that drains well and protects the seeds through the winter. We’ve expanded the garden so many times it’s unbelievable.” Sunpower is best known for its garlic. It produced 5,000 bulbs last year. It also grows potatoes, onions, corn, peas, beans, lettuces, beets, carrots, radishes, broccoli, cauliower, cabbage, raspberries and strawberries. When the garden was expanded to its current size of 0.75 acres, they planted apple, pear and sour cherry trees. In addition to the Cranbrook Farmers Market, the farm sells to Grace Café & Preserving in Kimberley, and Mortella’s restaurant in Cranbrook. A grocery store and private customers on Bowen Island take much of what is left over at the end of the season. Experimental farm In addition to Sunpower’s success as a market garden, what really distinguishes it from other farms in the Kootenays is its use of solar power and non-mechanized equipment to minimize greenhouse gas emissions. “I considered the property an experimental farm,” says Harold. “We felt it could be developed into a substantial Solar power uMarket garden powered by solar energyQuality Pre-Owned Tractors & EquipmentANDEX 773 RAKE . . . . . . . . . . . . 12,500 CASE 580 LDR, BACKHOE . . . . . 29,000 CASE 595 4WD LDR . . . . . . . . . . . 18,500 CASE IH 4210 2WD . . . . . . . . . . . 20,000 X2 CLAAS 2650 MOWER . . . . . . . 9,000 FELLA SM320 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 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32 | FEBRUARY 2023 COUNTRY LIFE IN BCu Solar power reduces energy costs at low-input farmABBOTSFORD1-888-283-3276VERNON1-800-551-6411We stock AGCO Genuine parts because you demand quality.operation, but it was going to cost over $80,000 to put in electricity. We built the original small-scale solar system at about half that cost.” The system was installed on the farm shop, which is oriented to maximize the sunlight the system receives. The shop also contains the equipment needed to convert light into power. “On the upper oor are the control systems and a battery bank which provides about three days of energy to carry us through in cloudy weather. We use a propane generator during long stretches of cloudy days in the fall.” With his interest in alternative energy, Harold began researching tilling and mowing equipment that did not use gas. He found a series of Elec-Trak all-electric garden tractor equipment made by General Electric in the early 1970s in response to the energy crisis of the time. The equipment is still available and in use today by a following of tractor and electric vehicle enthusiasts. Harold and Jessica bought two Elec-Traks so that when one was charging, the other could be used to keep the work going. They have a small electric truck for bringing in crops from the garden and use a propane-powered gas range to prepare the bread and cookies Jessica makes and sells along with produce at the Cranbrook market. “Other than the cost of the Elec-Traks themselves, we use little electricity,” says Harold. “That keeps our hydro-carbon output low and reduces infrastructure expenses.” “The electric mowers only have a few moving parts so keeping them operating is easy,” he adds. “I might replace brushes and some bearings every two to three years and replace the batteries every ve years. The battery technology ensures they will run for three hours. That’s about as much time as I want to spend on certain tasks anyway.” Sunpower’s irrigation system is also adapted to the site. “Summers in the Skookumchuk area are blazing hot and 42-degree days are common,” Jessica points out. “We placed the garden next to Tamarack Creek which ows into Tamarack Lake. We have a water diversion tank above the house and garden so that all our water comes from the creek with more than adequate pressure. To minimize water use, we use mostly drip lines, eliminating the need for pumps.” The Tichenors, now in their 70s, have long followed the principles of author Jean-Martin Fortier, renowned for his low-tech, high-yield production methods, and English horticulturalist Charles Dowding’s no-dig and organic soil management techniques. They are adamant that market gardening benets the health of older people. “Even now in our 70s, we are very t, largely because the garden work stretches and strengthens all the muscles in the body,” says Jessica, who has a nursing degree. “The social aspect of participating at the farmers market and providing good food for others also contributes to our healthy lifestyle.” Despite the challenges of developing the farm from scratch, they have no regrets. “We feel we’ve deed the odds as to what can be accomplished on this property and it has given back to us in so many ways,” Jessica says. Solar panels installed above Sunpower Farm’s shop store about three days of energy. SUBMITTED
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC FEBRUARY 2023 | 33Farmers need to prioritize mental wellnessWithout action, AgSafe says the current situation will only get worseJimi and Tony Meier lived through the 2021 Sumas Prairie ooding at their dairy farm. When Jimi knew their farm was going to be okay, she began helping others. SUBMITTED 23390 RIVER ROAD, MAPLE RIDGE, BC V2W 1B6 604/463-3681 | vanderwaleq.com VAN DER WAL EQUIPMENT (1989) LTD.Work hard. Feel good.When you have a lot of ground to cover and productivity is key, a Ferris zero turn mower with suspension technology is the best choice. MYRNA STARK LEADER ABBOTSFORD – When it comes to mental wellness, the erce independence and stoicism too common in farmers can be problematic. “I heard from a poultry producer yesterday,” says Wendy Bennett, executive director of AgSafe BC. “She said, ‘My husband needs the support, but he won't ask for it. So, when I call, and it’s peer group support, I hand him the phone and he’ll stay on it. It's really helpful for him but he won't make the call.’” AgSafe oered three webinars in December encouraging discussion about resilience and mental wellness. There’s good reason for concern. The past year has seen BC producers face excessive heat, drought, res, ooding, supply chain disruptions and more recently avian inuenza, ination and rising interest rates. To respond to mental wellness calls from farmers, ranchers and their workers, AgSafe partners with a team of 14 counsellors able to respond in English, Spanish and Punjabi. “We saw use increase slightly in the last month with the anniversary of the ood. It isn’t good there’s more need for support, but it is good because we know they are accessing it,” says Bennett, who gauges demand by each month’s counselling charges (calls are neither recorded nor tracked). AgSafe’s program will be joined in fall 2023 by a nationwide 988 mental health hotline that mirrors one launched in the US in July 2022. Bennett also hopes research University of Guelph conducted in 2021 will help AgSafe better target commodity groups at greater risk of stress. But even Bennett knows more open discussion is required around mental wellness. It’s partly why she and Jimi Meier, a dairy farm wife from Abottsford, spoke about the BC ood experience and its impact on producers at Farm Management Canada’s Agricultural Excellence Conference in Canmore in November. Meier and Hallie Jacobs, another farm wife, spearheaded an initiative to help to others during the November 2021 ooding in the Fraser Valley. It turned into a larger community-building movement that continues today. “It just kept going. Someone called yesterday looking for a load of wood because they don't have a furnace yet. It went on our Helping Sumas Prairie Farmers–Flood Support Facebook page and within 10 minutes, somebody messaged, and we got wood,” she says. Although Meier knows it isn’t direct mental wellness support or enough to be a major change in someone’s life, she has direct experience with producers’ thinking. “Ninety-nine percent of them will say, “Oh, no, please give it to somebody else. There's somebody worse o than us.’ But you know, there are plenty of people I'm talking to where they don't think there's anybody worse o,” Meier says. With help from donors, Meier and Jacobs collected and distributed about $106,000 in cash and gift cards as well as about $55,000 worth of items over the past year. “Our initial goal was just to bring a bit of cheer,” Meier explains. “During the ooding, we drove around handing out gloves. Later someone said, ‘It was one of the best days because, even though it was just gloves, we knew that people knew what was happening and cared.’” Normally an anxious person, Meier was reassured during 2021’s ooding because her husband kept saying they’d be okay given that their farm occupied higher ground. But when they received a notice of “imminent danger” in what could be “a catastrophic situation with potential loss of life,” she, ve employees, her mother-in-law and her daughters relocated to family and friends. Her husband, sons and her daughter’s boyfriend stayed at the farm to care for the cows. “My 14-year-old got very emotional about her 17-year-old brother, pleading, ‘Mom, he's so young. He can’t stay.’ She was thinking about losing him,” says Meier. “Dierent people handle stress dierently.” Bennett says now is the time to address issues of stress in agriculture to try and prevent the worst. “Our current WorkSafe regulations are literally there because someone died,” says Bennett. “If we don’t address mental health in agriculture, it's going to get a whole lot worse before it gets any better. If we can help to spread the word about mental health, maybe we can make it so somebody doesn't die.”
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COUNTRY LIFE IN BC FEBRUARY 2023 | 35Scholarship takes chefs on tours of BC farmsSustainable meat production is a key focusChef Rebecca Marshall is one of two recipients of a 2022 Les Dames d’Escofer scholarship sponsored by Two Rivers Specialty Meats that gave her an opportunity to get out of the kitchen and tour Pemberton farms this fall. SUBMITTEDWagyu uRONDA PAYNE NORTH VANCOUVER – A six-year-old scholarship program is once again taking female chefs to BC farms, highlighting the importance of sustainable, humane agriculture. Prior to COVID, recipients of a scholarship North Vancouver butcher shop Two Rivers Specialty Meats established with the BC chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier to honour ground-breaking Vancouver chef Tina Fineza would go on a road trip to BC farms and abattoirs. COVID put an end to the outings, but they resumed last year as 2022 recipients Mandy Newcomb, chef instructor and coordinator for the Culinary Arts program at the College of New Caledonia in Prince George and chef Rebecca Marshall spent a day in Pemberton as the first half of their scholarship experience. Close to home “Connecting chefs to the farm is kind of what I do here on a daily basis,” says Two Rivers sales rep Fraser Mittlestead. “We kept it a bit closer to home [this year].” Newcomb and Marshall visited North Arm Farm, a favourite supplier of several restaurants in Metro Vancouver where Emma Sturdy showed them the farm market garden. They also visited Kuurne Farm. The Kuurne family had supplied Two Rivers with beef when the butcher opened in 2007, but are also potato growers. “It was very cool to see both segments of their business. We got to tour where they store their potatoes,” says Mittlestead. The family’s produce was also on the menu at the lunch stop at Mile One Eating House in Pemberton. “They serve local BC beef on their menu and they also serve potato wedges using the Kuurne family potatoes,” Mittlestead says. But lunch wasn’t the end of the scholarship experience for Newcomb and Marhsall. They also spent time at Two Rivers learning about the butchering part of the business. “They spent a day in our operation doing butchery, sausage-making and charcuterie; so seeing how our products make it to the end consumer,” he says. “They actually got to butcher a cow from a new partnership with Hiro Wagyu. It’s beautiful meat. It’s somewhat of a new program they are starting up.” Hiro Wagyu is an Abbotsford producer of
36 | FEBRUARY 2023 COUNTRY LIFE IN BCu WagyuCohortWholesale.comTechnical and sales support provided byAlways read and follow label directions. Gatten® is a registered trademark of OAT Agrio Co., Ltd. Copyright ©2021 Nichino America, Inc. Worried aboutPowdery Mildew?Get Gatten!Gatten® fungicide Gatten®acts on multiple stages of powdery mildew development, delivering both preventative and post-infection control.Of things we would be lost withoutWe’ve had some cold weather this winter here in Shangri-La. Don’t you always nd that the rst few days in the minus 20s are ne but on day ve or so, problems arise? That’s been my experience. This day ve was no dierent. The cooler froze, a faucet froze, the fuel hose froze. My truck didn’t start. Things like that. Everything was ne, and then it wasn’t. It was a good reminder to stay on top of the situation and to keep turning up the heat. On everything. Preach. It led me to the same place I get to after every heat dome and heat wave: an outpouring of appreciation for electricity. We utterly rely on it. How amazing that at any temperature from plus 47 to minus 25, I can walk through the cooler door and nd it somewhere around 2 degrees on the other side. And when it freezes in there, I can just plug in a heater or three and save the day. Allow me to inject some pessimism to avoid unbecoming giddiness. We do lose power from time to time, and just because it’s never happened at a really bad time does not mean it won’t ever. All the back-up plans involve gas, diesel and propane. I am bothered by this, but I am not working on that issue right now. Speaking of cheerful and willful reliance on pollutants, I would also like to acknowledge the critical role of plastic bags in the selling of our crop. Plastic is magic. Anyone who has sold produce at market knows that if you put it in a plastic bag with a price sticker on it, you will sell it. In fact, everyone in the produce industry knows this – grocery store produce departments are a veritable sea of plastic bagging: much of it the crinkly, holey, custom-formed, entirely single-use variety. A few years ago, our big city markets attempted to ban our precious plastic bags in a forgivable t of sanctimonious self-sabotage, egged on by a few customers who I am sure did not realize the eect a ban would have on our sales. We saw t to protest and the blanket ban was postponed, with only the large, rather useful, shopping bags forbidden. I still bring them to market, although they are well hidden. When someone arrives at my till clearly exhibiting signs of being on an unexpected shopping spree at market, I oer them a bag. I ask them to agree not to throw it out after they promise to give it a long life of multiple uses and presto, it’s no longer a single-use bag. (I’ll still get in trouble if the market nds out.) Since this article has become all about things that give me heart palpitations in their absence, the Atlas nitrile-coated size-medium work gloves must be mentioned. I almost never do work without them on, to the point where I startle people with my non-stereotypical soft farmer hands. I buy them in bulk and usually have at least a dozen pairs in circulation around the farm. They don’t last long: the nitrile coating hardens, and they then become the worst gloves in the world – dangerously slippy. Furthermore, they go missing. It's a dangerous game, becoming so dependant on those gloves. The backup plan is terrible, and I dread doing anything without my gloves. After frantically patting my pockets and slashing my eyes left and right in a futile search, I point my soft, weak, trembling hands at the job: broken nails, bruised knuckles, pinched skin, awkward lifts and greasy palms my certain future. This really ought never to happen. And yet. Anna Helmer farms with family and friends in Pemberton, where it can rain the day after anything. Power, plastic bags and nitrile-coated work gloves are blessingsFarm Story ANNA HELMERwagyu beef, a style of beef traditionally made from the meat of four breeds of Japanese cattle and fed a special diet that gives the meat a distinctive texture. Mittlestead notes that chefs like Newcomb and Marshall play a huge role in the way people eat, just like Fineza did, because they buy products they believe in. “You are voting with your dollars as a chef,” he says. “You’re using your dollars to support food that you believe in and supporting a food system that you want around in 15, 20, 25 years.” Scholarship chair Karen Dar Woon explains that candidates for the scholarship are women wanting to learn specifically about sustainable food production, sourcing local and supporting small businesses. “We’re hoping that by providing experience and education in sustainable meat production, these women will be able to champion sustainable and humane production practices,” she says. “Chefs are quite influential to consumers.” The deadline for 2023 scholarship applications through is February 13.
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC FEBRUARY 2023 | 37East Kootenay sheep producer Jennifer Bowes is putting money behind her determination to help reduce if not irradicate M.ovi from affecting wild sheep through the production of wool pellets. SUBMITTEDwww.tubeline.ca 1.888.856.6613@TubelineMFGFind us onNITRO 275RS SPREADERSACCUMUL8 & RETRIEVERBALEWRAPPERS SILAGE RAKEKATE AYERS BRISCO – Jennifer Bowes of Riverside Farm in Brisco makes fertilizer wool pellets and donates 5% of the proceeds to test East Kootenay’s domestic sheep ocks for Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae (M. ovi), a devastating disease in wild sheep. While Bowes didn’t set out to be the face for wildlife conservation, she has become an active ambassador for the protection of wild sheep populations in the province. Bowes got her start in the sheep sector through her interest in bre and spinning. She then fell in love with production. “I have a ne arts degree out of the University of Alberta. And I moved kind of in the textile direction,” says Bowes, who joined the Edmonton Weavers' Guild. “Then I went to Nepal to teach English … and they taught me how to spin wool at the school that I was teaching at.” When she returned, she wanted to learn how to work with sheep as well. In 2016, Bowes and her partner Trevor Hann started their rst sheep farm in the Peace before transferring their operation to the Regional District of East Kootenay in 2019. They now run 150 head with primarily heritage breeds, including Gotlands, a rare breed from Sweden more vulnerable to M. ovi, Bluefaced Leicesters and Wensleydale crosses. They raise these animals for meat and bre. Both Bowes and Hann had previously worked in national and provincial parks and knew that their new farm was close to the Radium bighorn sheep herd. Their environmental farm plan advisor suggested that the couple reach out to the Wild Sheep Society of BC and test for M. ovi. “A lot of sheep carry it. Domestic sheep carry it without too much diculty, but the bighorn sheep, if they contract it from domestic sheep, it can be fatal for the lamb crop. So, we decided to test,” Bowes says. “We tested all of our sheep and we did have positive cases with our Gotlands that we brought in.” Testing connected them with retired provincial wildlife veterinarian Dr. Helen Schwantje, Jeremy Ayotte of the BC Sheep Separation Program and the Wild Sheep Society of BC, who ultimately included them as part of a trial treatment program for M. ovi. The disease is often spread to wild rams visiting domestic ocks when the ewes are in heat. The animals make nose-to-nose contact and the males bring the pathogen back to the wild herd. The testing and trial team have made signicant progress, signicantly reducing Riverside Farms’ disease transmission rate and improving overall ock health. As part of an initiative to raise public awareness of M. ovi, the team was involved in the lming of Transmission, which was recently released at the Ban Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival. Bowes and the Wild Sheep Society of BC now use the documentary as an outreach tool for domestic sheep producers. To further her cause of raising awareness and protecting local wild sheep populations, Bowes started a program last year called Reimagining the Ties that Bind Wildlife Conservation to Farming. “I basically raised about $40,000, through the [BC] Ministry of Agriculture and the Regional District of East Kootenay to test as many domestic sheep in the East Kootenays as possible,” Bowes says. She and Ayotte did a testing blitz in December and met with farmers to talk about disease mitigation. “We want to collaborate with sheep producers rather than having an adversarial relationship, which has maybe happened in the past,” Bowes says. “I think there's been this idea that conservation and farming are somehow opposite from each other. This program tries to bring the two together in a positive way.” In addition, the M. ovi testing project spun o into another venture for Bowes that benets local producers and wild sheep. “When the sheep were infected with M. ovi, they would get a fever and then their wool would actually break so I couldn't use that Sheep producer expands wool marketReducing disease among domestic and wild herds benefits everyoneWool pellet production u
38 | FEBRUARY 2023 COUNTRY LIFE IN BCu Wool pellet production, sales help fund disease testing initiativewww.GroberNutrition.com | 1.800.265.7863 |C.J Brookes Chilliwack (604) 846-2100Dares Country FeedsLangley (604) 856-1611Rafter MC AGventuresVanderhoof (604) 798-4847Smithers Feed Store Smithers (250) 847-9810Agri-Supply LTDKamloops (250) 372-7446Barriere Country Feeds Inc. Barriere (250) 672-5256Beavervalley FeedsWilliams Lake (250) 392-6282Country West SupplyArmstrong (250) 546-9174Chilliwack (604) 847-3737Find Grober products at the following DairyCrop BC area dealers:Spruce Capital Feeds LTDPrince George (250) 564-6010Top Shelf FeedsCourtenay (250) 897-3302 Duncan (250) 746-5101 Powell River (604) 485-2244Victoria (250) 478-8012Contact the DairyCrop teamGerry DeGroot (604) 819-4139James Robinson 236.986.7693Evan Davidson (604) 991-6708FUEL YOUR ANIMALS,RIGHT FROM THE START™Blending the art and science of young animal nutrition to bring you premium products with innovative ingredients Our team of Young Animal Specialists can assist you on your farm with quality products, custom feeding plans and troubleshootingwool for making yarn, which I usually do. And I didn't want to waste it,” Bowes says. She knew a lot of people mulched wool in raised beds and gardens for weed suppression, but she found it often got caught up in the rototillers that worked the mulch into the soil. This led her to trials with pelletizing wool at the University of Vermont. After nearly four years of research, Bowes found an engineering company that was able to make a pelletizer and wool shredder. She received this equipment in September and has been making pellets ever since. Bowes tied this value-added product to her conservation program. “A hundred and fty sheep sounds like a lot, but in the grand scheme of things for starting a business, I needed to generate more wool,” she says. “So, as part of that program, I created an incentive for farmers to test. I oered them a better price for their wool than the current model.” The co-operative buys lower grade wool for $0.18 per pound and Bowes oers $0.50 per pound and picks it up if they test for M. ovi. “And if participants maintained a M. ovi-free ock, I would just pay their shearing bill. So, every year that they maintain a M. ovi-free ock, they get a better nancial incentive,” Bowes says. As of December, 22 producers had agreed to test their ocks. Bowes launched her fertilizer pellet product at the Edmonton Fibre Festival on November 12. Each kilogram of pellets can fertilize 0.56 cubic metres of soil, Bowes says. She’s conceptualized the idea with support from a small network of other wool pellet producers in Lumby and Manitoba. Moving forward, Bowes wants to continue supporting the Wild Sheep Society in its disease reduction eorts as well as support the local sheep sector. “I started asking farmers what they needed and what the challenges were for sheep producers in the East Kootenays, because a lot of them are saying their shearers are getting older,” she says. “They’re harder to nd, transportation costs are getting high, and there's a lack of a market to buy the wool. So, I've been talking to the mills in Alberta and seeing if there are ways that I could buy wool on their behalf to make products for these producers.” Bowes has discussed the potential for a mill that could make bedding, insulation or felted matting for the agriculture sector with the BC Ministry of Agriculture and Food, which has yet to throw its support behind the idea. While the ministry has not made any commitments at this point, Bowes is paving her way towards market development through grant applications and collaboration with producers on a regional level. How M.ovi impacts wild sheep Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae (M. ovi) is a bacterium commonly found in the nasal cavities and sinuses of asymptomatic sheep and goats. The pathogen can be transmitted to bighorn sheep, thinhorn sheep and mountain goats through nose-to-nose contact and droplet transmission. In bighorn sheep, pneumonia caused by the bacterial infection has led to large all-age die-os of ocks, and subsequent years of lower lamb births and survival rates. “It aects older ewes, younger ewes, lambs, rams, the [whole] population. It's not discriminatory whatsoever,” says Wild Sheep Society of BC’s vice-president and projects committee chair Chris Barker. “So, you can lose potentially between 60% to 95% of a wild population once they have contact with M. ovi.” The impacts are almost instantaneous, with deaths occurring two to three weeks after the disease makes its way into a wild population. The few animals that do survive are called shedders and carry the bacterium in their nasal cavities. “And at times, they'll shed that o. And what we're nding is basically we'll end up with zero lamb recruitment for up to 30 years in one herd. We’ll see a good year of lambs and then the next year there’s no lambs,” Barker says. “What happens is those shedders have their lambs and they’re feeding on their mother’s milk and have colostrum in their systems and they’re okay.” But between six and 12 weeks after, those lambs are o milk, and they do not survive. WSSBC researchers monitor populations on the Fraser River that have had no lamb recruitment for multiple years, Barker says. Flocks cannot recover on their own because the shedders live in the herds and continue the infection cycle. The only solution is euthanasia of those animals. One way to protect the wild population is for domestic sheep producers to test, work to eradicate M. ovi from their ocks and prevent transmission to bighorn sheep. “Jenn (Bowes) has been such a great advocate for engaging domestic producers, showing them the benets to get tested to potentially head down that disease-free path and end up with a healthier ock,” Barker says. —Kate Ayers
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC FEBRUARY 2023 | 39With over 60 local farm suppliers and nearly 600 monthly shoppers, The Local Store in Fernie is the epitome of the buy local movement. SUBMITTEDServing the Okanagan and Fraser Valley We’ve been proudly family owned and operated since opening in 1976. And with two blending plants, we’re one of BC’s largest distributors of granular, liquid and foliar fertilizers. Our buying power and proximity to the Fraser Valley makes us the logical choice for truckload shipments. OKANAGAN FERTILIZER LTD 1-800-361-4600 or 250-838-6414DONATETRACEY FREDRICKSON FERNIE – It has been two years since the launch of The Local Store in Fernie, a pilot project aimed at increasing local food security and providing producers with low-cost marketing support. Store coordinator Jennifer Lennon says the store has grown from working with 17 farmers and food producers to more than 60, paid over $415,000 to local food businesses, and has 600 monthly shoppers. It was recognized with the Fernie Chamber of Commerce’s New Business of the Year Award in 2021. While the store has not yet turned a prot, it plans to reinvest any it earns in the business. The store is a pilot project of Wildsight Elk Valley, a not-for-prot leader in large-scale conservation initiatives, sustainable community projects and environmental education. Fernie imports all of its commercially available food. The area’s cold climate is a key challenge for local producers, along with the absence of a regional food policy. Wildsight hopes to address the challenges by providing year-round access to sustainable food alternatives and shortening supply chains. “Local provides the benets of a farmers market without the farmer having to be there,” says Lennon. “We oer both in-person and online sales, which is new to many of the farmers and producers we work with.” The store carries a diverse range of locally made products, including fruits and vegetables, frozen meats and meals, jams, honey, herbs, salad xings, microgreens, our, pasta, soap, eggs, chocolate and more. Jaclyn Culver of No Fences Farming in Sparwood has been a major egg supplier to Local since its inception. No Fences was producing beef and some chickens when the opportunity to supply the store came up. Culver increased her ock from 15 to 100 chickens. “Being in Local provides an important source of monthly income that lets us reinvest in our business,” says Culver. “It also means when people come into the store to buy eggs, they may make additional purchases that support other producers.” Lennon says some changes were necessary to the store’s original operating model. “More coordination time is required per week than we initially expected, especially during the pandemic when nding volunteers was really challenging. This led to an expansion of the store coordinator role,” Lennon says. “Inventory uctuations for our farmers have required us to be exible, such as taking perishable items at short notice,” she adds. “We’ve also learned that producers have dierent needs based on seasonality, variety of products, storage and shelf-life concerns, and their distance from Fernie. We are working to support each producer appropriately while remaining equitable to all producers.” There is a perception that Local’s prices are higher than many can aord and that lower income consumers can’t aord produce sold at the store. “This is a long-term challenge that will require long-term solutions but, in the meantime, we work to increase food access wherever we can,” says Lennon. “For example, in 2022 we were fortunate to receive funding from Second Harvest, Canadian leader on perishable food redistribution, which enabled us to partner with the Fernie Women’s Resource Centre to provide $18,000 worth of local food to vulnerable community members. The feedback from this program was fantastic and although this grant was a one-o related to COVID relief, we hope to be able to replicate the program through other funding sources.” With ination and rising costs aecting all small businesses, the coming year will continue to provide challenges for Local, but its value is clear to its growing list of suppliers including Paula Vera of Polar Peak Popcorn. “Local provides us with a prime main-street location in Fernie where customers know they can nd our produce year-round,” says Vera. “We have no other storefront, and Local has helped us to attract many new customers and grow.” Fernie grocer stocks only local productsSupporting producers is a goal for the Elk Valley venture
Thousands of BC farmers and ranchers turn to Country Life in BC every month to nd out what (and who!) is making news in BC agriculture and how it may affect their farms and agri-businesses! CREDIT CARD # _________________________________________________________________ EXP _____________ CVV __________ o NEW o RENEWAL | o ONE YEAR ($18.90) oT WO YEARS ($33.60) o THREE YEARS ($37.80) Your Name ______________________________________________________________________________ Farm Name _____________________________________________________________________________ City ______________________________________ Postal Code __________________________________ Phone _____________________ Email ______________________________________________________ MAIL TO: 36 DALE RD, ENDERBY, BC V0E 1V4 subscriptions@ countrylifeinbc.com www.countrylifeinbc.com/subscribe40 | FEBRUARY 2023 COUNTRY LIFE IN BCPlease send a _______ year gift subscription to _______________________________________________ Farm Name ____________________________________________________________________________ Address _______________________________________________________________________________ City _________________________________________________ Postal Code ________ _______________ Phone _________________________ Email ________________________________________________ Kenneth’s rescue is touch and goWhen we left o last time, Kenneth had failed to communiate his predicament to Lorne’s dog Oscar and was still stuck in the loft at the old Corbett place. Then Lorne had begun to wonder where his dog was. Rural Redemption, Part 155, continues. Mary Garrison, Junkyard Frank, Lorne Davies and his dog Oscar followed the stream of profanity all the way to Corbett’s old barn. “Hallo!” hollered Lorne. “Everything okay in here?” “Does it look like everything is okay?” asked Kenneth. “Your stupid dog ran o with my hook, and he’s been barking all afternoon!” “You don’t say?” said Lorne. “You probably owe Oscar a big thank you, then. It’s all that barking that brought us here.” “I don’t owe any thanks to you or your dog. Just stand the ladder up so I can get down from here.” “Well, Oscar isn’t one for staying where he’s not wanted, and neither am I, so we’ll just be on our way. C’mon, boy, let’s get ourselves home before Mary sends out a search party.” Lorne and Oscar passed Frank coming through the door. Frank looked up at loft hole and wagged his head sadly. “It’s a crying shame,” he said. “What in hell’s name are you on about now?” said Kenneth. “It pains me to say, but it appears like you’ve been accused of being some kind of fake, Mr. Henderson. I just got o the phone from giving Harriet Murray a head’s up about the pickle you’ve got yourself into, and she says there’s no point in coming because her editor at the paper told her you’ve been in the news so many times that folks are starting to complain. Somebody wrote in a letter and claimed nobody could possibly be that dumb all the time and accused Harriet and you of making up fake news and taking fake pictures of it.” “That’s a lie! I wouldn’t give Harriet Murray the time of day!” “Hey, I’m on your side,” said Frank. “There’s no way in all creation anyone could make up all the jackpots you’ve been in.” “Just stand up the ladder,” barked Kenneth. “Oh, I daresn’t do that, not with the way my back’s been acting up,” said Frank. “I bet Mary’d set it up for you if you asked her nice.” Kenneth looked over at Mary. “Just put up the ladder, will you?” asked Kenneth crossly. Mary shook her head slowly. “I don’t believe I will. I could put up the ladder all right, but I don’t think I could put up with much more of you or your arrogant ways. You and them are probably best left right where you are.” Before Kenneth could respond, his cell phone rang. Mary picked it up. “Good afternoon, Kenneth Henderson’s oce. This is Mary. How may I help you? ... Hi, Delta … Yes, it is his phone … No, he’s ne but he could use some help getting out of the hayloft … You’ll have to ask him about that. Are Ashley and Clayton over at Deborah’s? … Okay, good. Ask Clayton to drive you up to the old Corbett place. Ashley will know it, I think. He’s down in the barn … Bye then. So, Mr. Fake News, that was Delta. She’s going to come with Ashley and Clayton, maybe you can talk one of them into rescuing you.” “I don’t need rescuing!” “Okay. Good to know. I should be on my way. You have a nice evening,” said Mary with a chuckle. “This isn’t funny, you know!” “That would be a matter of opinion, I think. You know if you could just learn to laugh at yourself, I’ll bet you’d be tickled pink most of the time.” Kenneth stewed in his own juices until Ashley, Delta and Clay arrived. He berated them for taking so long. He complained bitterly about being left there by Mary, Frank and Lorne. And about whoever put the ladder there in the rst place. He said Oscar must be the stupidest dog in the whole suering country. Clay said he shouldn’t sell Oscar too short because he wasn’t the one stuck in the hayloft, was he? Kenneth told Clay to spare him the chit-chat and just put the ladder back up. Delta intervened. “Do you want Clay to stand the ladder up so you can get down?” she asked. “Yes, dammit.” “Do you mean yes, please?” “Fine. Yes, please. Put up the ladder.” Kenneth was down in no time. Delta thanked Clay but Kenneth couldn’t bring himself to oer any expression of gratitude. Clay told Delta she was very welcome and said if there was nothing more he could do for her, Ashley and him would be on their way. Delta stayed behind and levelled a long stare at Kenneth. “What?” he asked. “My gawd, Kenneth, where do I begin? What on earth are you doing here in the rst place?” “I bought this place for us. For you, I mean. So I can rent it to you. So you won’t have to go somewhere else.” “I don’t know what to say.” “Don’t say anything. The sale won’t close for a week. Just take some time to think it over. Come on. I’ll show it to you. There are elds down through the trees.” Delta didn’t know just what to make of Kenneth’s announcement. On one hand, he let it slip that he bought the property for them. Then it was for her to rent so she’d stay. He was obviously in the driver’s seat. But it all seemed a little over-the-top. On the other hand, maybe it’s just his way of calling the shots? He seemed to be unreasonably cranky whenever things weren’t going his way. By the time they had hiked the perimeter of the elds, she decided Kenneth and the property both had intriguing possibilities. She would say yes to the rental and see how Kenneth would react if he was tempted by the possibility of une petite aaire de coeur. “What do you think?” asked Kenneth when they arrived back at the house. “I think it’s charming.” “You might not think so when you’ve had a look at the inside,” said Kenneth. “I don’t mean the house. I mean you buying all this so I’d have a place to rent, silly.” “Does that mean you’re interested?” “It surely does,” said Delta as she slipped her hand into his. “I’m sure you could x any little problems that might pop up.” “Anything you want, just ask.” “Alright then. You, sir, have got yourself a tenant.” Delta turned in front of Kenneth, reached for his other hand and looked up into his eyes. “Do you know what I think?” Kenneth shook his head. “I think there are some people you probably need to apologize to. And then tomorrow, we can make ourselves a list of all the things that are going to need doing before I move in.” Kenneth was about to deny the need to apologize to anyone but she rendered him speechless with one quick kiss. “Come on,” she said, “Let’s go.” ... to be continued Woodshed Chronicles BOB COLLINS
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC FEBRUARY 2023| 41New map app educates public about BC farmsStudents encouraged to share their experiencesJenn Hopcott is an advocate for Ag in the Classroom’s new Farm Explorer BC program, recognizing its capacity to help educate the public about farmers and agriculture. HOPCOTT FARMSRONDA PAYNE ABBOTSFORD – Farm Explorer BC is a new website BC Agriculture in the Classroom has launched to deliver information about 500-plus farms to those wanting to know more about farming in BC. “Users can learn all about real BC farms directly from real BC farmers,” says BCAITC executive director Pat Tonn. “Farm Explorer BC is BC’s largest and most comprehensive webpage of farm direct marketers. Other sites showcase farms in specic regions or feature specic commodities, but no other site wraps all commodities and all regions together in one easy-to-use site.” The site – [farm-explorer-bc-bcaitc.hub.arcgis.com] – includes a dynamic map, farm listings and farm stories. Geared for those who may be unfamiliar with agriculture, it showcases what’s in season and connects with popular social media platforms. Hopcott Farms in Pitt Meadows is among the farms featured on the site. “We have our bistro and our patio and we have charcuteries and picnic baskets to go,” says Jenn Hopcott, general manager of Hopcott Market. “It’s not even a ve-minute bike ride and you’re right there at the dikes.” It’s free to be featured on the site until March 1, after which a listing will cost $200. “Everyone can use Farm Explorer BC,” says Tonn. “Educators can use it to plan eld trips, create classroom projects, or introduce agriculture topics. It provides valuable information on BC farming, sustainable food systems and agricultural careers, highlighting agriculture as an important part of our economy and way of life.” Students who discover farms that aren’t listed on the site have an opportunity to share their knowledge, making them collaborators with the farming sector. Students in grades 8 to 12 can submit a BC farm story before March 15 and receive $100. Teachers are eligible to receive up to $3,000 per class. Students will learn about a local farm by asking questions through an interview, creating a farm prole and seeing their collected information promoted online. “As a third-generation family-owned-and-run farm, anything that’s educational, knowledge-building for the general public about farmers is obviously what we want to promote,” says Hopcott. “Anything that does that, I think, is a great program. We have our on-site butcher and farm market, specializing in our own all-natural beef and many other amazing local products. Plus we have 70-acres of cranberries grown on site and we have our wedding venue across the street.” Agri-tourism opportunities Other farms may have agri-tourism activities they want to highlight or u-pick operations. Tonn says the ongoing seasonal-rotation of BCAITC resources from the organization and farm partners deliver an abundance of learning opportunities for families as well as those in the formal educational space. “Visiting the farms in person is a great way to support BC farms and farmers and enjoy an adventure through BC’s beautiful farm regions,” she says. “Agri-tourism is alive and growing in our province and Farm Explorer BC helps support it.” Supported by the BC Ministry of Agriculture and Food and the Fraser Valley Farm Direct Marketing Association, the site delivers the opportunity for an online learning experience about farms or a prompt to get out and explore agriculture in person. “They can use the site to plan a fun real-life road-trip through their favourite parts of our province to get an up-close and personal experience,” says Tonn. BCAITC remains active online and o with a variety of other initiatives. The recent 2022 Field-to- Fork Challenge brought together a range of stakeholders to reward 18 students for recipes using BC ingredients and the application of culinary techniques. Spotlight on Strawberries, which includes a special video about strawberry growing from Neufeld Farms and a range of activities focused on the fruit, is also seeing good uptake among a range of age groups. Spotlights are also available on BC’s potato, halibut, hazelnut, honey, chicken, blueberry, pork, duck, egg, cranberry and apple crops. YOURHelping YouHelping YouSignSign up today forfor freeupy eeWEEKLY FARM NEWS UPDATES
42 | FEBRUARY 2023 COUNTRY LIFE IN BCFebruary is so much better than January. It’s still winter and can be cold and wet and snowy outside, but there’s the lure of sweets and snacks and thoughtful little gifts from those you love, around February 14. Unless your birthday is in January, there’s not much to recommend it. It’s all about getting over the holiday season. February is also a month of slightly longer days with hours more daylight and the promise of spring not too far ahead. I’m an optimist and I unabashedly look forward to occasions. They’re great excuses to break out the silver and the good china and cook something special. That doesn’t have to mean spending days in the kitchen. Cooking special dishes can be done quite simply, too. The main thing is to Snacks for your sweetiesStart with an easy-to-prepare polenta base and get creative with your toppings! Delicious! JUDIE STEEVEScelebrate with little changes from your regular routine. Try setting up a card table with a pretty cloth in front of the re in the living room for an intimate, romantic meal. Or, cuddle up on the couch instead of having your appies at the table. Observing Valentine’s Day is optional, but it’s a fun little break in a month which can be pretty cold and boring, so I say let’s go for it. I’m oering an idea for some great little appetizers, featuring a simple polenta base, dressed up however you like. Your loved ones will love these. In my mind, there’s nothing quite like a bite of good, dark chocolate for dessert, so I’m not oering any embellishments for Valentine’s Day. Remember, mid-month, make good use of that excuse for a bit of fun and Happy Valentine’s Day! SLOW-ROASTED TOMATOESTOMATO BASIL BITES2 c. (500 ml) cherry tomatoes 3 tbsp. (45 ml) olive oil 3 garlic cloves • For the slow-roasted tomatoes, halve the cherry tomatoes and toss them with the olive oil, minced garlic cloves, red pepper akes, paprika, thyme and salt and pepper, to taste. • Lay them out, cut side up, on a baking pan or an 8x8 cake dish, or a cast iron frypan, and roast for about four hours in a very slow oven, about 225° F. • These could keep for a week or so in the refrigerator and provide a delicious hit of intense, sweet tomato avour to pasta dishes, salads, or appetizers. They could also be frozen for later use. • These also make a delicious addition to pastas. 1/2 tsp. (2 ml) red pepper akes 1/4 tsp. (1 ml) paprika MUSHROOM ONION BITES1/4 lb. (115 g) mushrooms 2 tbsp. (30 ml) minced green onion 2 tbsp. (30 ml) butter 1 tbsp. (15 ml) our • To make the mushroom topping, chop the mushrooms nely and mince the green onions. Melt the butter over medium heat in a frypan and sauté the mushrooms and onions until the mushrooms lose their moisture, stirring occasionally. • Remove from the heat and add our, stirring until it has been incorporated, then add the heavy cream and stir well. • Return to the heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and bubbles. Simmer for a few minutes more, stirring well. • Remove from the heat and add the salt, parsley, lemon and cayenne. • Scrape into a bowl and chill. This can be kept in the fridge for several days or frozen to reheat and use at a later time. • To serve, smear a layer of the mushroom mixture over the polenta squares and bake at 375° F for 10 to 15 minutes, until everything is heated through. 1/2 c. (125 ml) heavy cream 1/4 tsp. (1 ml) salt 2 tsp. (10 ml) minced fresh parsley POLENTA BITESThese attractive little appetizers can be made gluten-free, with slow-roasted or fresh tomatoes, basil pesto and cheese, or they can be topped with a rich mushroom topping – or whatever else you can imagine. Polenta: 6 c. (1.5 L) water 2 tsp. (10 ml) salt 1 1/2 c. (275 ml) cornmeal or polenta • Bring water with salt to boiling in a large pot and very gradually and evenly add cornmeal, stirring constantly to keep it smooth and keeping the water at a boil. Once it’s all in, reduce the heat and simmer, stirring frequently, for 20 to 30 minutes until the mixture thickens and a spoon will stand up in it. • Remove from heat and spread it evenly over a buttered 11x16-inch sheet pan. • Cool in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight, then cut into squares, a suitable size for an appie. tomato slices, or slow-roasted tomatoes (see recipe below) • Make slow-roasted tomatoes ahead of time and use these intensely flavoured little morsels of tomato instead of slices of tomato on your polenta bases, after smearing each with basil pesto. • Or, use freshly sliced tomatoes to top off a smear of basil pesto on top of the polenta squares. • Either way, grate mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses and top the pesto and tomato appies with first the mozzarella and then a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. • Bake at 375° F for 10-15 minutes until the cheese melts and browns slightly. • Garnish with fresh basil leaves. a squeeze of fresh lemon juice pinch of cayenne pepper Parmesan cheese, to garnish1/4 tsp. (1 ml) thyme salt and pepper, to tastebasil pesto mozzarella cheese Parmesan cheese fresh basil leaves, to garnishJude’s Kitchen JUDIE STEEVES
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC FEBRUARY 2023| 43couADVERTISING THAT WORKS!TRACTORS/EQUIPMENTREAL ESTATEREAL ESTATEFOR SALEHAYHAYBERRIESIRRIGATIONFor Tissue Culture Derived Plants of New Varieties of Haskaps, Raspberries, Blueberries, Blackberries, Saskatoon Berries and Sour Cherries, Please Contact:DISEASE FREE PLANTING STOCK OF NEW BERRY CROPS 4290 Wallace Hill Road, Kelowna, BC, V1W 4B6info@agriforestbiotech.com250.764.2224www.agriforestbiotech.com NEW polyethylene tanks of all shapes & sizes for septic and water storage. Ideal for irrigation, hydroponics, wash-down, lazy wells, rain water, truck box, fertizilizer mixing & spraying. Call 1-800-661-4473 for closest distributor. Manufactured in Delta by Premier Plastics premierplastics.com Feeders & Panels that maintain their value!ROUND BALE FEEDERS BIG SQUARE BALE FEEDERS FENCE PANELS CATTLE & HORSE FEEDERSHEAVY DUTY OIL FIELD PIPE CRADLE FEEDERS. Single big square or 2 round bales Outside measurement is 8 feet x 12 feet Silage bunk feeders For product pictures, check out Double Delichte Stables on Facebook Dan 250/308-9218 Coldstream DON GILOWSKI 250-260-0828 Royal LePage Downtown Realty Ltd BUYING OR SELLING OKANAGAN FARM, RANCH OR ACREAGE? COURTENAY HEREFORDS. Cattle for Sale: yearling bulls and bred heifers. John 250/334-3252 or Johnny 250-218-2537.PYESTERDAY’S TRADITION - TODAY’S TECHNOLOGYMANAGERS Phil Brown 250-293-6857 Catherine Brown 250-293-6858 firstname.lastname@example.org www.coppercreekranch.com PRINCETON, BC Raising registered polled & horned Herefords & F1s. BREEDING BULLS FOR SALE.RAVEN HILL MEADOWS: Coneygeers stock - ewe lambs available. 250-722-1882. NanaimoLIVESTOCKIt’s the top linethat makes the Bottom LineBC SHORTHORN ASSOCIATION Scott Fraser, President Bob Merkley, BC Director 250-709-4443 604-607-7733DeBOER’S USED TRACTORS & EQUIPMENT GRINDROD, BCWANTED: USED JD TRACTORS 60-100 HP JD 115 12’ DISK 6,500 JD 6400 W/CAB&LDR 60,000 JD 1830 W/LDR 16,000 JD 1830 W/LDR 15,000 JD 1630 W/LDR 16,000 OLIVER 12’ disc 3,750 ED DEBOER 250/838-7362 cell 250/833-6699 CURT DEBOER 250/838-9612 cell 250/804-6147CUSTOM BALING 3x4 BIG SQUARES SILAGE BALING/WRAPPING ED DEBOER 250/833-6699 CURT DEBOER 250/804-6147EDVENTURE HAY SALES ENDERBYFOR SALE in Osoyoos: 2 electronic cherry PACKING LINES, 1 apple packing line, harvest bins, and other assorted packinghouse equipment. Please contact Tony for more details 250-498-7705Available now, 4- 1/4 mile Used VALLEY, ZIMMATIC, T.L. PIVOTS, 3- Used 1,000 ft, 1,250 ft Hose reels, 10,000 ft 12 in 8,000ft 10 in HDPE, Steel pipe in all sizes used. Dealer for Pierce Pivots, T.L Pivots, lease your new or used pivot, Hose reels, RM, Idrio, diesel pumps, centrifugal, sub-mersible, freq drives, pump stations, 30 years experience. Talk to Brock! 250 319 3044ZcXjj`Ô\[j7Zflekipc`]\`eYZ%ZfdfiZXcc1-'+%*)/%*/(+C@E<8;J1),nfi[jfic\jj#d`e`dld(*gclj>JK#\XZ_X[[`k`feXcnfi[`j%),;@JGC8P8;J1),gclj>JKg\iZfclde`eZ_M[WYY[fjcW`ehYh[Z_jYWhZi$Carrie Nicholson PREC* 250-614-6766 Carrie Nicholson PREC* 250-614-6766 EQUIPMENT DISPERSAL • LOEWEN 422 MIXER WAGON, good condition, $13,500 • LOEWEN SUBSOILER, 2 shank, 3 pt hitch, $2,500 • LOEWEN BOX SCRAPER, 3 pt, with rubber, like new, $800 • LOEWEN AGITATOR 18’, 100 HP prop, nice condition, $2,000 • WINPOWER 30/20 kw pto generator on trailer, exc cond. $3,500 • JD CLAMP-ON DUALS 18.4-38, $2,500 TONY 604-850-4718MARCH DEADLINE FEB 17DISCOVER PRINCE GEORGE PRINCE GEORGE & AREA SUBDIVISION LOTS: PARADISE ESTATES: R2688574; R2688580; R2688588; R2588581 and more lots available in this sub-division. GLADTIDING ESTATES: R2687614; R2687593; R2687125; R2687155 and more lots available in this subdivision. CHIEF LAKE ROAD: R2689813; R2689815; R2689817 and more lots available in this subdivision. 56 CITY ACRES Zoned AF, bring your ideas MLS R2716736 $2,499,900 160 ACRES west of PG, Zoned RU3, MLS R27229 $369,000 PARADISE FOUND updated log home on 42 acres. $749,900 MLS R2691271 COUNTRY GEM 3 bed/1 bath home of 2.2 acres. R2711734 $379,900 DOME CREEK 160 acres with tons of potential. MLS R2702148 $599,900 SALMON VALLEY 370 acres; 3 titles. 150 ac cleared, MLS R2675843 $599,000 STUNNING MTN RESORT on 82.25 acres, 17 chalets, 50 camps. MLS C8040948 $4,850,000 CATTLE RANCH 1,280 acres; 5 bed/3 bath home. Fenced, outbuild-ings; MLS R2677116 $2,100,000 CONCRETE BUSINESS Robson Valley, MLS C8040939, $759,000 PARADISE IN THE VALLEY 192 acre private estate, custom home, out-buildings to die for. MLS R2720083 $1,450,000 SAXTON LAKE ROAD: R2610535 R2610527; R2610554 and more lots available in this area. CRANBROOK HILL 77 acres w/dev potential minutes from UNBC. MLS R2640598 $1,500,000 HART HWY 54.95 acres. MLS R2640583. $699,900 CLOSE TO THE LAKE 8.3 acres. MLS R2610880 $250,000 74 ACRES w/ 20,000 sq ft bldg., 40 acres cultivated. MLS C8041167 $1,700,000 ESCAPE the city. Two lots in Willow River, 22,500 sq ft. MLS R2591708, $28,900 69+ ACRES ON RIVER Approx 50 acres in hay. River, road access. MLS R2685535 $838,000 55 ACRES Dev potential close to airport. MLS R2707390, $675,000 TREED LOT on edge of the Fraser. MLS R2622560 $229,900 2 LOTS IN ONE PKG! 3.55 acres residential Quesnel R2657274 $289,000 80 ACRES/TIMBER VALUE Zoning allows ag, housing, forestry & more. MLS R2665497 $449,900 15 MINUTES TO PG ~58 acres with timber value. Mostly flat lot with lots of potential. MLS R2665474, $349,900 HWY FRONTAGE 190 acres w/exc potential for subdivision/commercial ventures. MLS R2660646 $749,900 CHIEF LAKE RD 5 acres ready to build. MLS R2715818 $150,000 HUGE POTENTIAL! 64 acres, RR1 zoning, close to amenities. MLS R2736609 $995,000 SALMON VALLEY 120 acres 30 min from downtown PG. MLS R2736769 $239,900 42-ACRE PARADISE Updated 3 bed/3bath 3248 sq ft log home, 35 minutes from downtown PG. MLS R2726021 $664,900 WRIGHT CR RD 195 acres undisturbed bare land. MLS R2655719 $649,900 36+ACRES in PG, prime for busi-ness. MLS C8046015 $6,390,000 21 ACRES PG in city limits on Hwy 16, MLS R27163337 $559,900 TABOR 7.61 acres short drive from town. MLS R2716743 $129,900 DOME CREEK 160 acres with tons of potential. MLS R2702148 $549,900Baler, NEW HOLLAND 2004’ Model 570, $14,000; Tedder, CLAAS 2006’ Model 52T, 17’6” Hyd. Fold, $7,000; Tedder, CASE 2003’ Model IH 8309, 540 PTO, 9’2” Cut, $8,000; Manure Spreader, JOHN DEERE Model 40T, $4,000; Hay BALE SLED, bunches up approx. 40 bales, $2,000; HAY RAKE, 4 wheels, $1,500. Call Shawn (604) 615-3646 DISCOVER PRINCE GEORGESEEDADVERTISING THAT WORKS!4x3 BIG SQUARES, first crop, $250/ton; Round bales, first crop, $90 ea. 250-833-6699; 250-804-6147ROUND BALES Good grass , tight, well-wrapped $70/bale CARL 604-825-9108HAY FOR SALE Large quantities of 3x4 hay & 4x4 WRAPPED SILAGE BALES. Located in Salmon Arm. WE DELIVER. 250-804-6081ALFALFA SEED For Sale. Tap root blend for hay and pasture. North Okanagan produced. Common #2, $125 for 44 lb bag. Larry 306-580-3002, Armstrong2012 JD 6320 PREMIUM 673 self leveling loader Was used for snow removal Very clean; 24 speed transmission Left hand shuttle shift; 2200 hours $85,000BRIGGS BOOM Waters 200 ft in one pass Very gentle on the ground Used only one year $30,000 CASE 1690 2400 original hours ; 3 point & pto 90 hp; Very good condition $11,000 KAL 604-760-9563 200 ROUND BALE SILAGE. First cut, good feed. $60/bale. South Surrey, Peter, 604-538-44352019 KUBOTA M6-141 1800 hrs, front axle suspension, elecronic controlled loader, soft ride, 3rd function live hydraulic control $97,500 250-616-6427 | email@example.com
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