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Vol. 106 No. 6
The agricultural news source in British Columbia since 1915 JUNE 2020 | Vol. 106 No. 6
OYF
Poultry and hops a winning combination 9
FLOODS
Provincial disaster assistance ‘isn’t working’ 11
MEAT
Rethinking the concept for mobile abattoirs
19
by PETER MITHAM
OTTAWA – Criticisms are
mounting over Ottawas
apparent lack of response to
the serious issues farm
businesses are facing as a
result of COVID-19.
Many national livestock
groups are saying programs
announced to date are too
little, too late, while in BC,
farm leaders have voiced
frustration over what they
describe as backtracking.
"The government needs to
move fast and provide more
support for the entire industry
to protect Canada's food
supply, said Canadian
Federation of Independent
Business vice-president of
agri-business Marilyn Braun-
Pollon in a statement May 22.
While a national coalition of
farm groups have asked for
$2.6 billion to address “impacts
which are not eligible under
any of the government
programs announced to date
nor addressed by federal
business risk management
programs, federal agriculture
minister Marie-Claude
Bibeau’s oce has dismissed
the demand as vague.
We are asking CFA
(Canadian Federation of
Agriculture) to be a bit more
up-front about digging into
what specically theyre
asking for, ministerial sta
told Country Life in BC.
Meanwhile, it touted 16
programs in support of
agriculture, the value of which
hasn’t been pinned down.
“Its a big number, sta
said, noting that the nal
calculation will depend on
participation.
The biggest number by far
Kevin Husband of Emma Lea Farms in Delta stands among thousands of strawberry blossoms. This year's crop is around the corner, but he's planning
to make sure pickers keep their distance from each other and that the only thing they come away with is a at of berries, not a case of CO
VID-19.
Read more about his plans in our story on page 7.
PHOTO / RONDA PAYNE
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Demand shifts
in pandemic
complicate
outlook
by PETER MITHAM
PARKSVILLE – A triple-
threat of reduced processing
capacity, shifting market
demand and implementation
of the Canada-US-Mexico
trade agreement on July 1
has supply-managed groups
on edge.
Dairy producers stand to
be hit hardest, as the
implementation date comes
just before the new dairy year
begins on August 1. While the
federal government originally
reassured Dairy Farmers of
Canada that implementation
would be after August 1, the
agreement’s nal ratication
See SUPPLY on next page
o
Blossoming hopes
SUPPLY-managed sectors facing double whammy nfrom page 1
WAGE top-up up to province nfrom page 1
by the three signatory
countries in April triggered a
provision that will see it come
into force July 1.
Dairy Farmers of Canada
says by coming into force
during the current dairy year,
industry will shift rapidly from
a period of adjustment to one
of signicant losses. The
sector will absorb a 40%
reduction in exports
beginning August 1, with
ongoing losses estimated at
$330 million per year.
“Its very concerning seeing
our marketshare chipped
away like this, says Ray
Gourlay of Morningstar Farm
in Parksville, whose 50 cows
supply milk to his cheese
company, Little Qualicum
Cheeseworks. “This pandemic,
if anything, has shown us how
fragile our food production
and processing supply chains
really are. At a point in time
when we really should be
strengthening our supply
chain by creating more
localized food processing and
production, we’re creating
more globalized food
processing and importing
more.
While adding value to his
milk by making cheese adds
value to his farm, this spring
hes had to ship uid milk to
Island Farms in Victoria. The
revenues haven’t made up for
lost cheese sales, which have
declined 65%. CUSMA isn’t
going to make it any easier to
make a living.
The new trade agreement
is creating challenges for
other supply-managed
sectors, too.
Katie Lowe, executive
director of the BC Egg
Marketing Board, said recent
trade deals mean that by the
time it’s fully implemented,
CUSMA will allow more than
11 million dozen eggs
annually to arrive from the
US.
With CUSMA coming into
aect mid-year, up to 1.7
million dozen eggs could be
brought in under the
agreement in 2020, says
Lowe. These imported eggs
will displace eggs produced
by Canadian egg farmers at a
time when we are in a surplus
situation as the restaurant
and food service sector are
not using eggs at the normal
levels.
Demand for local eggs
remains strong, however.
“Nearly 90% of Canadians
believe it’s important that the
eggs they purchase are
produced in Canada, she
says. “COVID-19 has
emphasized the preference
for local food sources.
BC producers are currently
sending about 25,000 dozen
eggs a week that would have
entered foodservice channels
to food banks as the system
adjusts. This has avoided the
depopulation actions seen in
the US.
Chicken Farmers of
Canada, meanwhile, is
focusing on the eects of
COVID-19 rather than CUSMA.
Unlike dairy producers, the
production year for broilers
parallels the calendar year,
explains CFC communications
director Lisa Bishop-Spencer.
“[CUSMA] doesn’t make a
signicant dierence, she
says. We have been working
to determine how to adjust
production levels at the farm
to respond to reductions in
the ability to process our
chickens.
Production was reduced
12.6% for period A-163 (May
10- July 4), she says, “in an
eort to address the concerns
of our value chain partners as
a result of reduced
foodservice demand during
the pandemic. Period A-164
(July 5-August 29) will see an
11% reduction in production.
2 | JUNE 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
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travel restrictions, was hailed
as a success when it was
announced on March 20.
However, it’s now facing
criticism from some groups.
The Western Agricultural
Labour Initiative, for example,
has told Ottawa the current
process for bringing in
workers needs to be
streamlined to avoid delays
and give employers certainty.
Reg Ens, executive director
of the BC Agriculture Council
(which oversees WALI), told
Country Life in BC that best
estimates indicate that worker
arrivals are on par with last
year but the current status of
workers remained dicult to
track, complicating eorts to
identify how serious any
shortfall is.
The latitude local health
ocials have shown in
interpreting public health
regulations has also been a
problem.
Moreover, funding the
federal government promised
of $1,500 per foreign worker
will not simply be paid to
eligible employers as Bibeau
originally promised on April
13. Rather, employers must
apply for it, and it will only
cover costs in excess of those
covered by the provinces, and
only those specic to the
isolation period.
“Only the eligible costs
incurred and paid by the
employer can be claimed,
explains Bibeau’s sta. This
includes salary, but can also
include other costs. Cost
categories were left very
broad to allow employers to
claim just about any costs
related to the 14-day isolation,
thus giving them every
opportunity to receive the full
$1,500 per worker.
BC, for example, covers
accommodation and meals
for incoming workers. These
are not eligible, but wages
would be.
Many business risk
management programs also
rely on provincial
contributions,
such as
AgriRecovery, which the
federal government is using
to support beef and hog
producers unable to sell their
animals. It's promised $125
million, including $50 million
for cattle producers and an
advance of $20 a head for
impacted hog producers.
But since AgriRecovery is a
program funded in
partnership with the
provinces, it depends on BC
pledging its support.
Surveys the CFIB has
conducted indicate that
nearly half of livestock farmers
feel the federal program will
not be helpful, while 42% say
it will assist their businesses.
Theyre more optimistic
than producers in the
horticulture sector, where
75% say government relief
programs will not make a
meaningful dierence.
is the $3 billion that Prime
Minister Justin Trudeau
announced May 7 to top-up
wages for workers in essential
sectors. But it was up to the
provinces to set the terms.
“Our government has
clearly recognized that
workers in the food supply
chain, from the farm to the
food store, are all essential –
we look forward to seeing the
provincial plans soon, Bibeau
said on social media.
Her sta soon followed up,
noting that BC had yet to
announce its plans.
“It is up to provinces now to
determine whether agriculture
counts as essential – some
may not, a note to Country Life
in BC said.
A query to the BC Ministry
of Agriculture was answered
by the provinces nance
ministry, which said an
announcement was coming.
When it was made May 19, the
plan oered an extra $4 an
hour to frontline workers in
health and social service
occupations. There wasn’t a
cent for farm workers.
Disenchanted
Other federal programs
have also left farm groups
disenchanted.
An arrangement to allow
foreign farm workers to enter
Canada despite international
ALR complaints
rise, investigations
on hold
Compliance officers seconded to
inspect foreign worker housing
Complaints of illegal dumping on farmland in the Agricultural Land Reserve continue to outnumber the other
indiscretions the Agricultural Land Commission hears about. PHOTO / AGRICULTURAL LAND COMMISSION
by PETER MITHAM
BURNABY – Connecting
with farmers to understand
local issues related to
agricultural land is an
important part of the
Agricultural Land Commission’s
work. But restrictions on
in-person meetings this spring
have changed how
commissioners go about their
business.
The commissioners had
some site visits they would
have liked to have done, and
theyre nding other ways
other than going on site
inspections, explains ALC CEO
Kim Grout, noting that the
commission simply increased
its existing use of online
meeting platforms to
complete its work. They’re
still getting the work done but
anywhere they might have
gone out and looked at
something, they’ve oered
people other meeting
alternatives other than physically
visiting the property.
However, the provinces
need for inspectors to assess
housing for temporary foreign
workers has seen the
commissions seven
compliance and enforcement
ocers seconded as part of
government’s COVID-19
response. While the
commission operates at arms
length from government, its
sta are on the provincial
payroll and available to
government in the event of
emergencies.
ALC is not normally
involved in temporary foreign
worker housing inspections,
says Grout. “Government was
looking for inspectors to do it,
and the C&E team are all
involved.
Since agriculture is an
essential service, they’re
making sure farmers have the
facilities needed to house
workers safely rst and
investigating breaches of the
land commissions regulations
second.
“Our C&E team is only
dealing with our own case
les when theyre not doing
inspections for the provincial
government, says Grout.
Complaints up
Ironically, the number of
complaints increased
signicantly as people spent
more time at home following
the closure of workplaces in
March. Grout holds o
drawing a direct connection,
noting that complaints have
in general been on the increase,
but the uptick was noticeable.
Preliminary gures indicate
that complaints and referrals
from other government
agencies, including local
governments, regarding non-
compliance increased 48% in
the year ended March 31. The
total was 381, versus 257 in
the previous year.
Trends within the
complaints remain similar to
previous years, despite new
rules introduced over the past
18 months as a result of bills
52 and 15. Unauthorized
commercial activity and ll
remain the two largest
sources of complaints and
referrals, Grout said, even
though we have all these new
ll rules.
Indeed, complaints related
to ll increased from 40% of
all complaints last year to 42%
in the latest scal year.
Meanwhile, unauthorized
commercial activity accounted
for just 36% of complaints,
down from 42% last year.
Agri-tourism, despite being
a hot-button issue in the
legislature and grabbing
media headlines, represent a
fraction of investigations
There were four complaints or
referrals in the year ended
March 31, 2019, driven largely
by government, three last year
as a result of complaints and
there have been none in the
current scal year.
With respect to decisions,
approximately 9% of those
rendered last year were
related to residential use.
Regulations introduced under
Bill 52 created a new category
of non-adhering residential
use, with 104 applications
submitted last year. The pace
of applications increased as
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC JUNE 2020 | 3
the year advanced, with 66
decisions rendered. Of these,
46 were approvals and 20
were denied. Grout said the
remaining 38 applications
came in at the end of the
commissions year and
decisions are pending.
There have been no
changes to regulations
governing the ALC or the
Agricultural Land Reserve
since March 12, when the
province announced
regulations giving force and
eect to some of the changes
passed under Bill 15. However,
the commission anticipates
working with municipalities
this summer in the run-up to
their becoming the
designated channel for
requests to remove farmland
from the ALR beginning
September 30.
Were contemplating
engagement, but in a virtual
realm, says Grout. Were
focused on just keeping our
head above water during the
COVID situation but once we
get through that, we
denitely are interested in
envisioning and supporting
implementation of what will
take place in September.
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The agricultural news source in British Columbia since 1915
Vol.106 No. 6 . JUNE 2020
Published monthly by Country Life 2000 Ltd.
www.countrylifeinbc.com
Publisher Cathy Glover
604-328-3814 . publisher@countrylifeinbc.com
Editor Emeritus David Schmidt
Associate Editor Peter Mitham
news@countrylifeinbc.com
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Sum-sum-summertime, PW!
Shifting promises
English poet Matthew Francis has an acute summary of the challenges
farmers face: “Sun and rain mean something now, / though they aren't sure
what. Sun and rain are key to producing the crops and livestock we all need.
The trouble is, we never know exactly what sun and rain will mean to us in any
given season, success or failure.
Natures promises are echoed in a lot of government promises these days.
Theyre made, but it’s tough to know what they’ll mean. A bold announcement
one day is followed by details several days later that cut hope down to size, and
payments several months later are even smaller than our hopes.
Ottawa’s initial $82 billion response package to the COVID-19 pandemic has
been topped up a few times, and the provisions for agriculture haven’t been
any exception. But the government has also taken a lot of heat, because
national farm groups have asked for at least $2.6 billion to cover the impacts of
COVID-19. Meanwhile, the government – at the most generous interpretation –
has announced just $502 million in identiable support for the sector and its
organizations. The rest depends on producer requests.
While producers say government isn’t giving enough, federal agriculture
minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said farmers aren’t asking for enough, which
makes it hard to get them the funding they need. Meanwhile, several programs
are cost-shared with the provinces and she’s pointed the nger at Lana Popham
and other agriculture ministers to ante up.
Meanwhile, the provinces don’t necessarily do any better.
The saga of farmers in Grand Forks is a case in point. Victoria gave them
access to its Disaster Financial Assistance program after devastating oods in
2018, but just two of the 16 farmers who applied received support. The
cheques totalled just $20,900 despite damages of $12 million. Community
Futures Boundary concluded the program as a whole was ineective.
While governments are quick to announce programs in response to disaster,
being able to quickly access them is equally important. The promises shouldn’t
be as changeable as the weather. We know its possible because of the
4 | JUNE 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
Of all the human achievements of the past 75
years, the most consequential is the explosive
growth of population. (Sorry cablevision, space
ight, Internet and Viagra!)
The most impressive achievement is surely the
global food system that has evolved to feed a
population
that has
tripled in
that time.
Two
hallmarks
of the
global
food system are the huge multinational
corporations that control it and the transportation
system that makes it work. Through merger and
acquisition, control of the food system has
concentrated in a handful of corporations. Think
ADM, Bunge, Cargill and the like. Throw in a global
transportation network and the entire world
becomes a common source and a common market.
Food becomes a commodity.
For much of agriculture, there is a direct link to a
single buyer and the system works ne. The rancher
in Anahim Lake with 300 cows ships his calves to
the auction in Williams Lake or maybe sells them on
the Internet to a feedlot aliated with the corporate
owner of the facility that will eventually slaughter
and process them in an hour and 35 minutes.
The rancher has a ready and dependable sale for
the calves, but it will often come at the price of a
vigorous, competitive marketplace.
In theory, the calves don’t have to be sold but
really, with a once-a-year payday hanging in the
balance, they probably do.
At the point of sale, the calves become part of a
global commodity for the major players in the food
system, subject to competitive valuation and
market forces the world over.
As farms and ranches have grown bigger, they
have increasingly fallen into the embrace of the
corporate commodity marketplace. The whims of
the market on one side and nature on the other
make the whole endeavour like juggling double-
edged knives: tricky to do without drawing a little
blood now and then.
Distinctly local
Despite the global nature of the food system,
farms and ranches are distinctly local concerns.
There are many that lack the scale of production or
the location to engage in the global commodity
market. Their markets are necessarily local and there
is seldom a link to a single buyer. While the rancher
in Anahim can move 300 head with one or two
transactions, a small producer anywhere in the
province might need 300 transactions to sell 10
head. It is the same story for anyone relying on
direct-to-consumer sales.
Commodity producers play a well-dened role.
Once those Anahim calves are sold, the ranchers
part is played and the larger cast in the food system
takes over. The rancher can settle his accounts and
head home to start the whole performance all over
again. The direct marketer will be on stage until the
nal act. If he or she has calves to sell, they will have
to feed, slaughter/process and sell as well. The
slaughter/packing role is highly regulated and, in
most instances, must be played by a Class A or B
licensed facility. When there is a willing and able
facility close by, the part can be played seamlessly
and the show can go on.
Conversely, distant and insucient capacity can
create a pinch-point that can doom the whole
enterprise.
COVID-19 outbreaks have closed several large
packing plants, bringing the same pinch-point to
bear on large producers across the country. Barns
and feedlots are full, prices are down and a return to
full capacity looks fraught with complications. There
has been a sudden demand for locally grown and
processed meat which has outstripped the supply
that can be provided through existing meat
processing capacity.
The current dilemma has generated calls for
more diverse slaughter/processor facilities from
across the country. In a July 2019 discussion paper
soliciting local government feedback regarding
Class D licences, the BC Ministry of Agriculture
described one of the overall objectives of provincial
meat inspection as providing sucient exibility to
ensure a competitive slaughter industry with
capacity for livestock producers of all sizes across
BC.
Few producers would disagree.
Times of crisis often demand bold re-imagining
of the status quo. Lets hope that the new normal”
we keep hearing about will see the ministrys
objective met.
Bob Collins raises beef cattle and grows produce on
his farm in the Alberni Valley.
The Back Forty
BOB COLLINS
widespread praise for the prompt payments made under the Dairy Direct
Payment Program last December.
The far greater challenges COVID-19 presents deserve a straight-forward
response. This is what farmers expected. It doesn’t seem to be what they’ve
received.
Timing perfect to advance slaughter initiatives
Finding the right balance in times of stress
Pandemic presents additional challenges for farmers but there are ways to cope
socialize and get a break from
our solitary work have been
cancelled. Whether its
reduced trac at the farmers
market, or the cancellation of
church events or the fall fair,
our worlds may seem smaller
and this can lead to more
worrying about a lot of details
and factors out of our control.
This means we need to step
back, take a look at the bigger
picture, and try to nd a more
balanced perspective. To help
get through this time, we can
look ahead with our feet
rmly planted in the present,
while aware of the many
challenges the agriculture
industry has overcome in the
past. We can break this down
further and remember that
every farming family and
farmer has, at some point,
been through tough times.
Tough times will continue
post-pandemic as change
continues and every day
brings the need to regroup.
This is what farmers are
good at. On our small Interior
farm, I rely on stories of my
pioneer grandmother raising
her large family in the Fraser
Valley to help me adjust and
carry on with some hope and
optimism. She is one of my
inspirations.
We may feel that we have
to cope, survive and
overcome yet another
challenge in the form of
COVID-19, but we may need
help. We may need to see that
we don’t have to overcome’ so
much as get through. Taking
guaranteed income or
workplace benets.
The agriculture sector has a
capacity for innovation and
farmers are driven to be
increasingly creative and
ecient. Our community is
also grounded in long-
standing values,
practices and
processes. From this
solid history, we can
get the strength and
courage to look
ahead. Taking a
balanced view can
help us look forward with
some optimism to the time
when were able to see family
again, work with customers
and meet with other
producers. We can face the
discomfort of the present
times with greater condence
when we realize that we’ve
been through worse before.
Resilience
A history of overcoming
adversity – be it war,
recession, disease or even
regular day-to-day stressors –
creates resiliency. Being
resilient, when viewed
through a mental health and
wellness lens, combines
exibility and the ability to
adapt with grit and
determination. We can also
reach out and allow others to
support us. However, for those
of us in rural communities,
that isn’t always easy to do.
We’re used to being
independent and carrying on,
often in isolation, in the face
of adversity.
“Rural life presents unique
stressors such as isolation,
reduced public services,
reduced anonymity, and
stigma around seeking mental
health services, the report for
Farm Management Canada
states.
The irony is that such close-
knit communities should be
able to provide the social
support we need when times
get tough. But COVID-19 has
brought many unforeseen
changes and disruptions to
our lives, and many of the
regular social events that used
to provide a chance to
According to a recent
report the Wilton Consulting
Group prepared for Farm
Management Canada, the
qualities that make farming an
attractive way of life can also
make it a lonely and anxious
pursuit.
“It is a way of life, not just a
livelihood, says the report.
The connection to the land,
the burden of regularly taking
on large debt, the realities of
working and living on the
farm, and (often) the
responsibility of managing a
multi-generational legacy all
contribute to this unique way
of life.
The same qualities that
make farmers and ranchers
ideally suited to this way of
life also may put them at risk
for mental health issues.
Researchers at the University
of Guelph reported in 2015
that 45% of farmers in Canada
experience high levels of
stress. This can impact not
only the outlook and decision-
making abilities of farmers,
but also their own health and
the well-being of their family,
employees, and even their
animals.
With the uncertainties
around COVID-19, the
pressure on farmers has
increased once again. This is
especially true if you focus on
the risks at hand. I try to take a
balanced look, something that
is especially important given
the many stressors BC farmers
and ranchers face.
Farmers endure so many
challenges that many outside
the sector can’t fully
appreciate: non-farmers don’t
experience crop and stock
disease and loss or farming-
specic nancial strain. Few
people understand long,
lonely and often unpaid hours
in remote areas, working by
ones self. Farmers are often
self-employed and without a
Viewpoint
by TAMMY THIELMAN
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC JUNE 2020 | 5
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small steps early on to look
after your mental health and
wellness can help prevent a
larger, more serious need
later, after stress and worry
has built up or anxiety and
depression have worsened.
Some things you can do to
support your mental health
include safely connecting with
others in your family, your
community and some
farming-specic supports for
mental health and wellness.
Its important to know that
you’re not alone, and that
others are experiencing
similar challenges. Just
because you are coping
doesn’t mean that you have to
do so alone. We can help one
another by supporting and
learning more about
Canadian farming-specic
campaigns such as Rally and
the Do More Agricultural
Foundation.
When looking forward,
include yourself, your family
and the overall mental health
and wellness for all of you in
future planning for your farm.
As parents, spouses, family-
members, farmers and the
other roles many of us fulfil,
we can’t take time off or add
to our already-lengthy to-do
list. However, taking brief
moments to rest, to be with
others, look after ourselves
and restore our energy is vital
in our day-to-day mental
health and wellness as we
look ahead and farm into the
future.
Tammy Thielman BSW MSW
RSW is a licensed counsellor
specializing in agriculture and
mental health. With husband
John and their three children,
she is a sheep producer and
farmer in Salmon Arm.
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COUNTRY LIFE IN BC JUNE 2020 | 7
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DELTA – Berry growers
across the Lower Mainland
are seeing signs of a strong
2020 crop but COVID-19 has
caused uncertainty around
how berries will be picked
and sold.
The crops look good, they
look exceptionally good. We
had a good April and a really
good May. Its one of the best
springs I’ve seen, says Kevin
Husband, owner of Emma Lea
Farms on Westham Island.
“Our risk now is harvesting
and marketing.
Husband makes use of
local labour to harvest, but
the Canada Emergency
Response Benet may
interfere.
CERB provides Canadians
facing unemployment during
the COVID-19 pandemic up
to $500 a week to stay at
home and recipients can’t
make more than $1,000 a
month in additional income
without having CERB
payments clawed back.
Husband isn’t sure who
would come to work for more
than part-time. If that
happens, he will need up to
three times as many pickers
than his usual full-time crew.
That $2,000 payment has
had a negative ability on
workers to pick our crops and
work on the farm, he says.
Anju Gill, executive
director with the BC
Blueberry Council notes that
CERB doesn’t benet growers
and may impact their access
to labour.
“For some, it may lessen
the incentive to nd a job or
return to seasonal work, she
says. “If a worker is allowed
only to earn $1,000 on top of
their benet, theres less
incentive to earn more.
A coalition of farm
organizations led by the
Canadian Federation of
Agriculture, which includes
the BC Agriculture Council
and the Canadian
Horticultural Council, are
asking Ottawa to remove the
$1,000 cap for workers in
essential services, specically
agriculture.
This initiative will support
the Step up to the Plate –
Help Feed Canadians
campaign, Gill says.
Step up to the Plate is a
federal initiative to encourage
Canadians who have had
their jobs aected by COVID-
19 to consider working in the
agriculture and food
processing sectors.
Irene Willems, co-owner of
Willems Berry Farm in
Abbotsford, looks to high
school students as a key
labour source.
While this spring’s high
school graduates qualify for
the student version of CERB,
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Willems says she’s more
concerned about her
responsibilities under the
provinces guidelines to
protect farm workers from
COVID-19.
“Our biggest concern is
what were going to be
expected to do, she says.
Shes hoping associations
and the government will
contact her with the
information she needs. She
purchased face shields for
workers and will get masks if
needed but she says many
supplies are hard to come by.
The province nalized its
guidelines for agricultural
workers on April 6. It issued a
new version May 13
explaining that employers
must create an infection
prevention and control
protocol. Providing COVID-19
training to workers is also a
requirement as is increased
hygiene and cleaning
guidance. While face shields
and masks are not a
requirement at this point,
physical distancing and
increased handwashing
facilities are.
Willems feels as though
she is in limbo and is waiting
for more information from
the various berry associations
and the provincial
government to clarify u-pick
and worker standards.
Pollination shapes up
Despite fears of a bee shortage this spring, Lower Mainland berry growers say they’ve
received enough pollinators for the crop theyre aiming to harvest.
Indeed, there are enough that an apiarist reached out to several Delta growers with
an offer of extra hives.
But the offer was rejected by Jack Bates, co-owner of Tecarte Farms in Delta and other
growers, who have lower pollinator requirements this spring as they try to gauge how
many workers they’ll have to harvest their crop and how much demand there will be for
their fruit.
We cut back about 20% or so. We had more than we needed in the past, Bates
explains. “[There are] lots of flowers, lots of good bud set, in Delta anyway.
BC Ministry of Agriculture berry specialist Carolyn Teasdale says the key challenge for
pollination this year has been the weather.
The weather has not been ideal for pollination, she says, noting the dominant
pattern has been rain and wind interspersed with some hot days. There is the potential
for a large blueberry crop again this year if adequate pollination is achieved.
She says strawberries, both day-neutral and June-bearing varieties, should be ready
for harvest by the first week of June. A late frost in Delta in April doesn’t appear to have
damaged any berry plants, nor did the wind, rain and some hail.
—Ronda Payne
We don’t even know
what’s going to happen this
year, she says.
Raspberries have started
blooming and James Bergen,
chair of the Raspberry
Industry Development
Council, says harvest should
begin in mid-June. He
anticipates higher yields this
year. While some growers
removed raspberry elds last
year, hopefully new elds will
ll that gap.
The majority of the crop is
harvested by machines,
which are already in place, he
says. “Fresh growers will likely
have more work on their
hands maintaining social
distancing and anyone using
bussing for transportation of
workers will incur some extra
challenges and costs.
Husband’s biggest
concern as berries ripen is
how to sell the crop safely
when it’s ready. He’s devised
a plan for separating the
sales processes to ensure
physical distancing among
customers and avoid
contamination.
Were looking at a drive-
thru for bulk ats and
separating our u-pick
[checkout] from our fruit
stand, he says. There will be
new containers only. We can’t
have u-pickers bringing in
containers from home.
BERRY growers look for guidance on protocols nfrom page 7
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC JUNE 2020 | 9
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Poultry and hops a winning combination
OYF winners
credit community
involvement for
their success
2020 Outstanding Young Farmers Ray and Tracey Bredenhof with sons, from left to right, Kaleb, 5, Evan, 11, Noah, 7, and Jacob, 15. PHOTO / RONDA PAYNE
by PETER MITHAM
ABBOTSFORD – The vast
dierence between the farm
they started in 2005 and what
it’s become as Ray and Tracey
Bredenhof have expanded
from broiler production to
hops is testimony to not only
their own eorts but the
support of their community.
“By getting involved,
opportunities come up. You
meet great people and you
learn from other peoples
experiences as well, says Ray.
When we walked onto the
farm the very rst time
compared to now, we couldn’t
have planned it.
The result is the award in
this years BC/Yukon
Outstanding Young Farmers
Program, announced May 11.
This was the second year in a
row the couple were
nominated for the award,
given to farmers aged 18 to
39.
The couple, who have four
children ages ve to 15, began
farming in 2005 with R&T
Poultry. They steadily
expanded it, and now
produce 225,000 birds a year.
The barns were recently
upgraded to accommodate
25% more birds, and last year
the ock shifted to antibiotic-
free production.
“[Its] the way the industry is
headed so were getting
ahead of the curve on that
one, he says.
Hops were added into the
mix in 2016, and today
Bredenhof Hop Farms is one
of the largest growers in the
province, with 21 acres of its
own and an equal amount
with contract growers.
Thats not really what we
intended when we got into
hops, he says, modestly. A
few of the other farms have
pulled out, and we’ve picked
up a bit more acreage here
and there. Were really
enjoying the industry.
Growth has not been
without its challenges,
however.
One of the familys barns,
representing about a third of
its production, burned down
in April. There were no human
or avian casualties, but it’s a
reminder not to take anything
for granted.
Personally, the couple’s
oldest son was diagnosed
with bone cancer. Its in
remission, but the experience
reinforced the importance of
being surrounded by a strong
community. The couple have
given back, too, supporting
fundraising events including
the Variety telethon, BC
Childrens Hospital telethon
and Ronald McDonald House.
We’ve gotten involved in a
lot of that type of stu, on top
of our agricultural
[commitments], says
Bredenhof, who also chairs
the BC Hop Growers
Association.
He encourages other
growers to get involved in
their own commodity
organizations.
Get involved as much as
you can, he says. “It doesn’t
always have to take a ton of
time or a ton of resources.
Sometimes it leads down a
path you weren’t planning on,
and that’s okay. We’ve really
enjoyed that part of it.
Typically presented at a
ceremony each March, this
years Outstanding Young
Farmers award event was
cancelled in response to
COVID-19.
Typically presented at a
ceremony each March, this
years Outstanding Young
Farmers award event was
cancelled in response to
COVID-19.
Brian Pauls, who succeeded
Sara Harker as chair of the
BC/Yukon Outstanding Young
Farmers Program in March,
said an event could occur this
summer but no plans have
been made.
Receiving the award from
the BC/Yukon program makes
the Bredenhofs nalists for the
national competition, which
takes place in Saskatoon in
December 3-6.
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Producers mourn rising young abattoir operator
10 | JUNE 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
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A young champion for
more meat processing
capacity in the Southern
Interior has died.
Chad Maarhuis of Magnum
Meats in Rock Creek
collapsed May 10 following a
business trip to Calgary. He
was 37.
A graduate of the meat-
cutting course at Thompson
Rivers University, Maarhuis
bought Magnum Meats with
his wife Erika in 2008. It
operates the only abattoir in
the Kelowna-Osoyoos-
Creston triangle under a
B-class licence. The business
grew steadily and currently
serves more than 800 meat
producers in the southern
Interior.
“Chad was loved by many
and will be incredibly missed
by anyone who had the
pleasure to know him, says
Nova Woodbury, executive
director of BC Association of
Abattoirs, where Maarhuis
was a vice-president.
One of Maarhuis’s goals
was to provide
sausage and
smoking
services and the
trip to Calgary
allowed him to
purchase the
necessary
equipment.
He was also working with
the Boundary Meat Strategy
Committee on a proposal to
establish a co-op that would
set up a processing plant and
lease it to Magnum, whose
own cut-and-wrap business is
at capacity. Those plans are
now on hold.
The local community and
industry have rallied around
the family, helping take care
of immediate tasks while
issues around ongoing
operations get sorted out.
Woodbury said everyone,
including the provinces meat
inspector for the area, has
stepped up to ensure Erika
and his three young children
have the support they need.
—Peter Mitham
BC Veg eyes
strategic plan
The BC Vegetable
Marketing Commission held
its annual general meeting on
April 29, with a full agenda
over the course of the two-
and-a-half-hour online event.
Presentations regarding
marketing opportunities with
the provinces FeedBC
program as well as the
supervisory review were on
the agenda. Growers also
received an update on the
strategic planning initiative
launched last year, now being
revamped following an initial
and extensive round of
consultations.
The commission initially
contracted Dawn Glyckherr,
principal of DM2 Consulting
Inc. in Vancouver, to facilitate
the process. While she
managed to achieve her
target of consulting at least
65% of the sector, the
consultations outstripped the
scope of her workplan.
Approximately $35,000 was
spent on the work, but it was
estimated that a further
$90,000 would be needed to
complete the project, which
was expected last fall.
“It was evident that much
more work was needed to go
forward. The cost to complete
this work and communication
became an issue, commission
chair Debbie Etsell told
members. The decision to
part ways was mutual.
The commission has a
shortlist of candidates to
complete the work.
The commission is
working towards presenting
to producers and industry a
practical and eective plan as
soon as possible, Etsell said.
—Peter Mitham
Wage hike
compounds
challenges
BC labour minister Harry
Bains conrmed May 21 that
the province would increase
BC’s minimum wage to $14.60
an hour from $13.85 an hour
on June 1 as scheduled.
The increase comes as
many businesses are wrestling
with cash ow issues as a
result of the COVID-19
pandemic. The increase is part
of the provincial strategy to
lift the minimum wage to
$15.20 an hour on June 1,
2020. The shift was
recommended by the
provinces Fair Wages
Commission in an eort to
provide workers with what’s
popularly known as a living
wage.
While businesses
participating in the federal
wage subsidy program
launched in response to the
COVID-19 pandemic will be
able to oset 75% of the
increase, it nevertheless
represents an added cost to
employers.
Piece rates for hand-
harvesters are not aected by
the increase. The province
commissioned a report on the
piece rate system in 2018. The
results were nally made
public earlier this year but the
province continues to
consider what, if any changes,
it will make to the system.
—Peter Mitham
Former ALC chair
Erik Karlsen dies
Erik Karlsen, a former chair
of the Agricultural Land
Commission who helped lay
the foundation for the Water
Sustainability Act that
established a groundwater
licensing regime in BC, has
died.
During his tenure with the
ALC from 2005 to 2010,
Karlsen presided over key
decisions that continue to
resonate today, including bids
to exclude Barnston Island in
Surrey, the Garden City lands
in Richmond and properties
required for construction of
the South Fraser Perimeter
Road.
While the ALC rejected bids
to exclude Barnston Island
and the Garden City lands,
today home to a research
farm operated by Kwantlen
Polytechnic University, Karlsen
was aware that government
priorities could often trump
farmland preservation.
During discussions around
the South Fraser Perimeter
Road, he noted that Victoria
sidestepped the land
commission to conclude a
treaty with Tsawwassen First
Nation. But bids to protect
farmland had to be waged,
regardless.
“If it fails, it fails, but at least
we all tried, Karlsen said of
eorts to nd an alternative
alignment for the highway.
The project went ahead a few
months later with the
commission noting that
Victoria deemed alternative
alignments “not to be
acceptable from the
transportation and
environmental perspectives.
Larry Pedersen, deputy
minister of agriculture at the
time, described Karlsen as a
man of great integrity and
ingenuity. He recalls long
discussions about BC
agriculture where he and
Karlsen would probe
appropriate and creative ways
to work with legislative and
policy frameworks. They
would talk about how to
respect as many perspectives
as possible while encouraging
farming, preserving and
protecting farmland in the
ALR and setting up farmers for
success.
Born in 1945, Karlsen was
unfailingly kind to the people
and rm in solving the problems.
Because he demonstrated
respect for everyone, he also
earned it. When asked about
his secret for navigating policy
conict, he responded:
“Unconditional positive regard.
—Kathleen Gibson
& Peter Mitham
Ag Briefs
EDITED BY PETER MITHAM
countrylifeinbc.com
visit us online
Provincial disaster assistance ‘isn’t working’
Flooded farmers are falling
through the cracks
WASHED AWAY. The Kettle River carved a new channel through Advance Nursery's property in 2018, and nancial
assistance has yet to arrive. PHOTO / ADVANCE NURSERY CO.
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC JUNE 2020 | 11
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KELOWNA • 250.765.8266 . #201 - 150 Campion Street
TRACTORS
JD 1010 GAS, 2WD, REBUILT [CNS751] .................................. 6,500
JD 4240 2WD, CAB, 110 PTO HP [U32178] .......................... 38,900
M MOLINE 2WD, LOADER, REBUILT [CNS749] ......................... 7,000
NH BOOMER 33 ROPS, LOADER, 4WD, IND TIRES [U32032] .... 25,900
NH 8560 4WD, 6,250 HRS [U32312] .................................... 59,900
NH T6.175 5,000 HRS, SUPERSTEER - 16X16 [U32145] ........ 69,000
NH TS6.110 600 HRS, CAB, 4WD, NEW TIRES [U32188]......... 54,900
NH TV145 TRACTOR W/BOOM MOWER, 5950 HRS [U16916] . 60,000
NH WORKMASTER 55 1625 HRS, ROPS, 4WD, NO LDR [U32334] 21,500
QUALITY USED EQUIPMENT
NEW BOMFORD MULTICUT 450 WING MOWER, 15’8” CUT [N16211] 28,560
KUHN PRO 150 MANURE SPREADER, VERTICAL BEATERS,
GOOD CONDITION [U32236] ................................................ 36,600
NH L220 SKIDSTEER 6800 HRS, HAND/FOOT CONTROLS [U40034] 21,500
NH 644 SILAGE SPECIAL BALE SLICE [U32169] ....................... 11,900
NH 1037 BALE WAGON, CHEMAINUS LOCATION [U32142] ......10,500
NH FP230 GRASSHEAD, 2 ROW CORNHEAD,
PROCESSOR [U32226] .......................................................... 27,000
NH FP240; GOOD CONDITION, 2005, TANDEM AXLE; HI DUMP HOSES;
SPOUT EXTENSION; 29P GRASSHEAD (U31570) .................... 29,000
NH FP240 GRASS, CORN, CROP PRO, SINGLE AXLE [U32113] . 44,900
NH 824 CORN HEAD, 2 ROW, GOOD CONDITION [U32333] ......... 9,000
TAARUP 4036 DISC MOWER, REBUILT CUTTERBAR [U32093] ... 14,500
by TOM WALKER
GRAND FORKS – Fred
Elsaesser isn’t too worried
about the Kettle River
ooding his property this
year.
“Its only running at 18,000
cubic feet per second, he says
on May 14 from his riverside
property.
This time in 2018, it was
peaking around 48,500 cfs.
Elsaessers Advance Nursery
Co. Ltd. may escape damage
this year, but he is still
recovering from the 2018
ood that inicted losses in
the range of $2 million.
The oods of 2018 swept
away cultivated land and cut
a new channel across one of
Elsaessers elds. He and his
wife Christine lost over a
kilometre of deer-proof
fencing, as well as dikes, a
pump house and other
irrigation infrastructure. He
estimates 50,000 trees were
swept downriver.
Those trees probably
ended up in Washington, he
chuckles wryly.
Those are typical losses for
farmers aected by the 2018
oods, according to a
Community Futures Boundary
survey of 41 ood-aected
farms. The survey noted that
1,760 acres of land was
ooded, 41.5 km of fencing
was lost, and $637,200 worth
of crops destroyed. On
average, 22% of each
property was covered in
deposits. All required debris
removal. The total immediate
impact on area agriculture
was approximately $12
million dollars, according to
data from the BC Ministry of
Agriculture and BC Economic
Development Association.
But the ministry told
elected ocials that
AgriStability would not be
activated in the region.
Instead, the provinces
Disaster Financial Assistance
(DFA) program was
designated to assist farmers
seeking assistance.
“DFA seems to be the
applicable program, notes
Elsaesser. “It certainly has an
ag stream.
But the program hasn’t
delivered for the Elsaessers or
many of their neighbours. Of
the 16 applications from
farmers approved to move
forward, just two had received
funding by February 2019.
The total awarded was
$20,857.
It hasn’t been for trying.
The Elsaessers submitted
their initial application in fall
2018. They were turned down.
They appealed and were
turned down again. They led
a petition in court that forced
the government to
acknowledge that their
decision-making in the rst
two rejections was
unreasonable.
The government said they
would go back again and
write another decision and we
are still waiting, says Elsaesser.
Theyre now suing the BC
Ministry of Public Safety and
Solicitor General.
We want to push this
thing through, says Elsaesser.
We aren’t asking for our
business to be made whole.
The maximum pay-out on the
program is $300,000.
Backwards process
What concerns Elsaesser
more than the money is the
way they’ve been treated. He
says DFA sta are going
through detailed technical
arguments as to why his claim
doesn’t t the program mold.
“Its like we are dealing with
an insurance broker, he says.
“It feels like the program
administrators are doing
everything they can to avoid
supporting our business. It is
a backwards process.
Part of the argument
against Elsaessers application
is that Advance, like many
farm businesses in BC, is
incorporated. He says DFA
wanted to view them as a
business rather than a farm.
“But we aren’t a
corporation. We are a small
family farm, he notes.
Still, they have been
deemed ineligible.
Meanwhile, many of his
neighbours are seen as too
small.
A lot of farms in the valley
are small or are young farmers
just starting to expand and
must be supported by some
o-farm income, notes
Community Future general
manager Jennifer Wetmore,
who was team lead for
economic recovery following
the ood. “Under the DFA
rules, they don’t comply
either and they have just
fallen through the cracks.
Meanwhile, more than 250
homeowners applied for
assistance and received over
$5 million, according to
Community Futures
Boundary.
The organization has sent
two letters to government
protesting the discrepancy.
The rst letter in November
2018 was addressed to public
safety minister Mike
Farnworth and copied to
agriculture minister Lana
Popham and others.
“DFA is the primary tool
identied by the Province of
BC to provide direct nancial
assistance to business, it
states. “Based on the data, we
have concluded that, to date,
this tool has been ineective.
It urged improvements to
the program for the sake of
other communities, and
See NOT on next page
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1. Hillside with home 5+ Acres
2. Aerable Land 20+ Acres
3. Acreage with two homes
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FARMLAND WANTED IN THE NORTH OKANAGAN!
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12 | JUNE 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
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repeated a request from
Boundary Flood Recovery for
a $2.5 million assistance fund
to support local businesses.
The second letter, in April
2019, went to Ron Burleson,
executive director of
community recovery at
Emergency Management BC,
and specically addressed the
needs of farmers.
Neither letter has received
a response.
“If DFA is the primary tool
for disaster assistance for
agriculture in the province,
we know that it is not
working, says Wetmore.
“Community Futures has
made recommendations on
how the program might be
revamped.
Elsaesser, who has yet to
receive assistance under DFA,
remains perplexed.
Why would you write any
piece of legislation that has
an agriculture stream that
very few can benet from?” he
asks. “It doesn’t make sense.
Growers plan
ahead as potatoes
find markets
Plantings respond to reduced
foodservice demand
Fresh produce marketers will be keeping an eye on the demand for new baby potatoes. PHOTO / BC FRESH
by PETER MITHAM
DELTA – While many
growers scrambled to adjust
to shifting demand for their
products when COVID-19 hit,
the pandemic caught BC
vegetable producers at the
end of their season.
“It happened near the tail-
end of our storage season, so
we were through the largest
portion of our crops, says
Murray Driediger, president
and CEO of BC Fresh
Vegetables Inc. in Delta,
which is owned by more than
60 farm families.
A small volume of
Kennebec potatoes destined
for foodservice customers
was derailed as restaurants
shut down but very little
went to waste. Retailers took
a large portion, and BC Fresh
also managed to ship some
to a US buyer.
“It looks like we’re going to
get through the whole crop
in relatively good shape, says
Driediger. “It’s taken us a little
bit longer than normal, but
were … pretty fortunate with
the way things have worked
out.
Growers who supply BC
Fresh were also able to assess
the impact of restaurant
closures and adjust crop
allocations for the coming
season.
We looked at some of
those crops that were more
reliant on the foodservice
sector, and we ran a bunch of
dierent scenarios, says
Driediger. We were able to
make some acreage
adjustments, so we feel pretty
good about going into this
upcoming marketing season.
Plantings of Kennebec
potatoes, golden beets and
cabbages destined for
processing were pared back,
for example. Plantings of
other crops were maintained
with the expectations that
consumer demand will
remain strong until
foodservice sales – which is
about a third of BC Freshs
business – recovers.
Weighing options
The reduced market for BC
products among foodservice
customers could prompt the
cancellation of the provinces
Every Chef Needs a Farmer,
Every Farmer Needs a Chef
event. BC Fresh has
participated in past years and
the event was set for its third
iteration this November.
BC agriculture minister
Lana Popham says the
province has booked the PNE
but it’s weighing its options.
We haven’t sat down to
have an ocial discussion,
she says. Were now seeing
the restaurant industry try
and re-enter into the
marketplace, so we’ll see how
the demand goes.
Driediger expects the
recovery to take more than a
year, but he says its tough to
make rm calls given the
unprecedented nature of the
situation.
There are a lot of
unknowns right now, and I
don’t think any of us have the
answers at this stage, he says.
Were all trying to gure out
what the new normal is going
to be in terms of consumer
habits.
The rst of the 2020 crop
began hitting store shelves
May 21 in the form of Warba
potatoes, a white nugget
spud. How consumers
respond may oer clues to
the demand other crops will
face later in the season.
“It will be interesting to
see, says Driediger.
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC JUNE 2020 | 13
BC FRUIT GROWERS’ ASSOCIATION
1-800-619-9022 (ext 1)
email: replant@bcfga.com
www.bcfga.com
ANNOUNCEMENT:
Application forms and the updated requirements of the 2021 Tree Fruit
Replant Program are now available on the BCFGA website, www.bcfga.com.
Project applications (along with the required documents) will be received
by November 30, 2020. Please avoid the last minute rush and get your
application in early.
An horticultural advisor is required to sign individual applications for the 2021
Tree Fruit Replant Program. The following information will be provided to assist
growers in completing applications.
a. A list of qualied advisors.
b. Program operational policies.
c. A series of reports on replanting and variety performance
and selection are available and should be referenced when
preparing a Tree Fruit Replant Program Application.
The Tree Fruit Replant Program provides funding for quality projects.
Project approval is subject to funding availability and is allocated by the date of
receipt of applications. Completed projects are veried by inspection and must
attain minimum program standards.
The Tree Fruit Replant Program is a 7 year program,
funded by the Province of BC.
2020 Tree Fruit Replant Program
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BCTF introduces
grower incentives
to boost quality
New program is the first of its
kind for struggling fruit co-op
Good apples will fetch a premium for growers sending their crop to BC Tree Fruits this summer. It’s part of a
multifaceted plan to revitalize the co-op. FILE PHOTO / MYRNA STARK LEADER
by TOM WALKER
KELOWNA – BC Tree Fruits
has approved a plan to
support growers facing
diculties this summer after
years of poor returns and cash
ow issues.
We have looked to nd
ways to support growers to
have money for inputs to
produce a quality crop for
2020, says BC Tree Fruits CEO
Warren Saranchan.
The co-ops board recently
directed management to
return loan certicates for its
2014 revolving funds to
growers in May rather than
early June, as directed.
Revolving funds for 2015 will
also be released. If needed,
those monies can oset
balances owing on grower
accounts, freeing up credit
growers can use to purchase
2020 crop supplies.
The move will enable
growers to invest in the 2020
crop and encourage the
production of high-quality
fruit.
BCTF is also introducing an
Apple Quality Assurance
Program that establishes a
xed return for certain grades
and sizes of select varieties to
encourage the production of
high-quality fruit.
What we are going to do
for the 2020 crop season is
provide minimum pricing to
growers able to bring in
quality fruit, says Saranchan.
This is not something the
co-op has ever done, he says,
but it should give growers the
condence that they’ll see a
return this fall.
The program is limited to
the varieties fetching the best
returns in the market. These
include McIntosh, Gala,
Ambrosia, Pink Lady and
Honeycrisp.
Nevertheless, theres a wide
range of prices oered on the
varieties. McIntosh and Galas
of the best quality and size
will both return $0.32 a
pound to the grower. That is
nearly 15% more than last
year for Macs and 53% more
for Galas.
Honeycrisp sits at the top
of the scale and growers will
receive $0.89 a pound for
Extra Fancy Honeycrisps, the
same as last year.
The co-op will also oer an
earn-up incentive. If it is able
to sell apples for higher than
the xed minimum return,
75% of the premium will
come back to the grower,
with the co-op retaining the
balance for other programs.
But several growers
wonder if the co-op, which is
facing signicant
restructuring and cost-cutting
following a damning
governance review, can aord
to oer this kind of incentive.
Saranchan turns the
question around, and says the
co-op can’t aord to not
improve the quality of
incoming fruit.
We are trying very hard to
change the results at the
co-op, he says. This puts
even more pressure on the
entire management team and
sta at the cooperative to
carry out our restructuring
plans and increase returns.
Saranchan says the co-op
will look at other sources of
revenue if the new initiatives
result in nancial shortfalls, as
well as short-term loans.
Saranchan sees the
incentives as part of a long-
term strategy rather than a
y-by-night scheme.
“If I didn’t have a high
degree of condence in the
business, we never could
have gone down this path, he
says. “But we need to make
the required changes in
governance and strategy with
haste.
14 | JUNE 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
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Agritourism gets
creative in midst
of COVID-19
Guest experiences, sales face
modification this year
LET IT GROW! Mother’s Day at Maan Farms in Abbotsford turned into family day with the help of Elsa, from
Disney’s Frozen, much to the delight of drive-thru visitors frequenting the farm’s online store. PHOTO / MAAN FARMS
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC JUNE 2020 | 15
USED EQUIPMENT
N/H FP230 27P GRASS HEAD ............................................... 17,500
CLAAS VOLTO 1050 8 BASKET TEDDER ................................. 12,500
FELLA TS1502 2012, HAY RAKE ........................................... 20,000
MF 1372T 2008, 13FT DISCBINE, METAL ROLLERS.................... 22,000
USED TRACTORS
KUBOTA T2080 2014, 42” DECK & GRASS CATCHER.................... 3,285
KUBOTA T2380 2017, 48” DECK ............................................. 4,500
KUBOTA BX2360 2010, 1,900HRS, TRAC/MWR.......................... 9,750
KUBOTA F3680 2013, 600HRS, 60’ MWR & CATCHER ................ 21,500
N/H TN90F 1998, 7,600 HRS, CAB, MFWD................................ 8,000
CASE MAGNUM 225 CVT NEW ALO LOADER........................... 170,000
DEUTZ TTV 6130.4 2014, 1,760 HRS, LDR, FRONT 3PT/PTO....... 97,000
NEW INVENTORY:
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BOBCAT T190, 2008, TRACK LOADER, 1,375HRS, CAB............... 23,500
KUB KX71 2006, ROPS, THUMB, RUBBER, 2 BKTS, 4,000HRS..... 26,500
KUB KX121-3LAS 2005, CAB, THUMB, 2,700hrs .................... 40,950
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by RONDA PAYNE
LANGLEY – COVID-19 is
opening up opportunities for
agritourism operators to
innovate as people look for
local activities this summer.
Erin and Brian Anderson of
Eagle Acres are no strangers
to challenges, having
relocated and relaunched
their farm in 2017 following a
family rift. COVID-19 was a
new challenge, but Erin began
re-imagining pumpkin season
as a drive-thru event.
Gradually, other family
members jumped in with
ideas, and SaFarmi – a drive-
thru version of the farms
popular self-guided walking
tour – was born.
We were losing our entire
spring income for
agritourism, Erin says, then
the idea came. “By the end of
March, early April, everyone
had something to put into it.
SaFarmi is, in some ways,
even better than the original
experience in that those with
mobility challenges can enjoy
the tour without leaving the
car.
“Its been very well received
and we’ve tried to price it well
so that people can come back
and we’ve had families come
back multiple times, she says.
We’ve had little buses
through it. Home care buses.
It took a couple of weeks to
ensure roadways and
attractions as well as payment
systems met public health
guidelines.
“I think it’s very much a
situation of you learn to adapt
and react and keep moving,
she says. “Maybe its because
we’ve had to do it before in
multiple times in multiple
scenarios.
Gaining tr
action
In Abbotsford, Maan Farms
had been gaining traction
with its numerous activities
and fruit wines when COVID-
19 hit, but the Maan family is
also familiar with adversity.
In 2014, the market barn,
kitchen and winery burnt
down in an arson and the
family pulled together to
rebuild. More recently,
childrens activities at the farm
such as a bouncy pillow, pedal
cart track, tire fort and
playground have come under
re from the ALC as non-farm
activities.
“Its still an ongoing issue,
says Gurleen Maan, the farms
operations manager.
Now, faced with COVID-19
the family has been forced to
adapt yet again, setting up an
online store and organizing
drive-thru versions of its
Easter and Mothers Day
events.
“I don’t think we’ve ever
had this much success for a
Mothers Day event, Maan
says, noting it featured the
Disney character Elsa and
baby animals.
Using the online store for
food orders and designated
pick-up times allowed for
volume control. There were
also options to add-on to
meals with wine and spa
treatment kits.
Maan Farms made further
changes as the province
began implementing its
reopening strategy in May,
including wine tastings.
“Come strawberry season
… we are going to be
opening our doors, says
Maan. “I think the online route
that we’ve made will really
help us. We discussed that
were all going to wear masks
[and gloves] just to create that
sense of safety as people
come in.
Customers will have an
option of delivery, pickup or
eat-in kitchen-prepared food
items as well as delivery or
curbside pickup for berries
when available. Field
sectioning and customer
counts and spacing will allow
the u-pick to open.
“U-pick is denitely going
to happen, she says. “Lots of
other farms in the Lower
Mainland are taking the same
route.
The sites popular goat
yoga will be back as well, but
Maan won’t be making a run
for any Guinness records this
year. There will be strict limits
on the number of attendees,
as well as lots of physical
distancing and handwashing.
“Each year we’ve done a
goat yoga around the full
moon, she says. We’re going
to be doing another one
around June 5. We’re now
more connected than ever
with our customers.
Safety first
Customers are also at the
core of how Krause Berry
Farms and Estate Winery has
adapted to COVID-19.
Owners Alf and Sandee
Krause say only a couple of
things like the playground
and family fun eld will
remain closed. Other areas
will open with modied
protocols.
See SAFE on next page
o
Little & Large, Local & Long, Europe & N. America
Port to Dealer, Farm to Farm & Anything in Between
Brian Anderson welcomes visitors to SaFarmi at Eagle Acres in Glen Valley. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the agri-tourism operators to think outside of
the box to keep their barn doors open. PHOTO / RONDA PAYNE
SAFE nfrom pg 15
16 | JUNE 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
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While the Krauses have
experienced challenges in the
past with respect to guest
safety, like the 2011 llama
attack on a senior, COVID-19
is a dierent matter.
“Our whole purpose here
at the farm is to give excellent
care, Sandee says. “Safety
rst, quality second, then we
‘wow it’ and then we try to
make it as ecient as we can.
The farm assessed the
potential risk to visitors from
COVID-19 then developed a
plan to implement guidelines
to mitigate them.
We made many protocols
for everything [government]
asked for, she says. We’ve
changed the entire ow of
our market so its one way.
There are also strawberry
oor stickers that t the
Krause brand but
communicate physical
distancing standards.
Plexiglas has been installed at
the cashier and one-way
online order pick-up is
available outside the market.
We can still give excellent
care to people who want the
products but don’t really care
to line up, she says. We’ve
created a drive-thru to pick
up your berries and pies at
the top of the road.
Alf says the u-pick will be
dierent this year.
Were going to supply all
containers, he says. “Its one-
use containers. We’re selling
by volume rather than by
pound. It eliminates two
touches and it also eliminates
another line.
With the issues around
labour this year, having
guests out for u-pick is
important to get the berries
out of the eld.
Staff training
After 46 years in the
business, the Krauses have
learned to engage their sta
at the very beginning of any
new plan. COVID-19 has been
no dierent but sta training
will be.
“Our experience over all
these years is that it’s good to
do all that planning, but it’s
also good to be exible,
Sandee says. “Immediately,
we set up weekly Zoom
meetings and we stayed in
touch with our sta … so we
all feel engaged and safe.
Langleys Joseph Richard
Group also agreed to make
Krause syrups, jams and pies
available for pick-up
alongside items from its own
restaurants.
The feedback was just
excellent, Sandee says. They
could bring some of their
people back to work and
have something more to
oer.
Opening the farm will be a
gradual process of one area
at a time to ensure sta are
up to speed and no one is
overwhelmed with how the
2020 season will play out.
Protesters,
vandalism
tarnish ranch’s
reputation
ON HOLD. Conrad Schiebel stands on the glacial till he was hoping to reclaim with biosolids. The project setbacks for Chum Lake, seen here, are 100
metres. That's more than triple the Organic Matter Recycling Regulation requirement. PHOTO / TOM WALKER
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC JUNE 2020 | 17
PROVINCIAL LIVESTOCK
FENCING PROGRAM
Applications Close:
September 30, 2020
View program updates at
cattlemen.bc.ca/fencing.htm
Oce: 1.778.412.7000 Toll Free: 1.866.398.2848
email: fencebc@gmail.com
In partnership with:
Farm and Rural
Residential
Properties
in the Peace
Country are
our specialty
Anne H. Clayton
MBA, AACI P App, RI
Appraiser
Judi Leeming
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250.782.1088
info@aspengrovepropertyservices.ca
Biosolids project halted following harassment
by TOM WALKER
KAMLOOPS – A project to
transform a logging site into
productive pasture using
biosolids from the city of
Kamloops has been sidelined
after the rancher was the
target of harassment.
Conrad Schiebel of Turtle
Valley Bison Ranch near Chase
faced a road blockade, a social
media smear campaign,
defacement of his property
and death threats throughout
last year.
“People accused us of
being environmental
terrorists, says Schiebel. That
really cuts deep.
Schiebel says the ranch has
lost income and customers,
suered damage to its
reputation and neighbours
have turned against it. Work
to build the pasture has
stopped, while Kamloops now
faces the challenge of what to
do with its stockpile of
biosolids.
Ironically, the group
harassing Schiebel is part of
the very same First Nation
that proposed the project in
the rst place.
Firebreak
During the winter of 2017-
18, the ranch logged a 70-acre
parcel of their land, which is
privately held and outside the
Agricultural Land Reserve.
Schiebel aimed to build a
rebreak for its current
pastures and hoped the site
would provide more grass for
its herd of 75 bison.
“Late in 2018, we were
approached by the Little
Shuswap Lake Indian Band
leadership to consider a
biosolids application as a
possible way to turn our
logged area into productive
pasture, recalls Schiebel.
“Both the elected council and
several hereditary chiefs gave
their support.
Pasture seeding on the
glacial till was completely
unsuccessful in 2018 and the
idea of biosolids held some
promise. Schiebel spent a year
researching biosolids before
making a decision.
We reviewed the practice
with several agricultural, soil
and water scientists as well as
the BC government website
on organic waste regulations,
says Schiebel. He adds that
the website has high-quality,
evidence-based information
about the use of biosolids,
which is a controlled
substance under the
provinces Organic Matter
Recycling Regulation.
They also met with Arrow
Transport, the company with
the contract to manage the
19,500 wet tonnes of biosolids
Kamloops produces each year,
as well as an independent
professional agrologist.
They deemed our ranch as
being an excellent site for this
type of reclamation project,
says Schiebel. The site has
since been assessed by an
independent hydrologist who
also concurred that the risk to
any surrounding water
sources or aquifers would be
extremely unlikely.
Turtle Valley has a serious
commitment to the land and
its community.
The ranch has worked
diligently to implement our
environmental farm plan,
notes Schiebel. We have
always worked closely with
neighbouring First Nations
and included them in all our
farming and land
development plans.
The ranch received a
permit from the province and
Arrow began its deliveries in
early April.
The biosolids are mixed
See FIRST NATION on next page
FIRST NATION divided nfrom page 17
18 | JUNE 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
with sawdust before being trucked to the site
and deposited in a prepared trench. A backhoe
combines the mixture with the glacial till
before lling in the trench. The resulting soil
has a 7% biosolid content.
This isn’t just a straight surface application,
explains Schiebel.
Blockade
Area residents led by Connie Seaward
began blocking the road that leads to the
reclamation site on April 28, 2019 to protest
the project. Arrow received an injunction
against the blockade 10 days later. In turn, the
protestors sought an injunction against the
project. BC Supreme Court dismissed the
protestors application against the use of the
biosolids saying there was no plausible
evidence to show that the biosolids would
cause harm.
But Seaward’s group have certainly caused
harm to the ranch. Ranch signs have been
spray-painted with profanity, its vehicles and
Schiebel’s RV have been paint-balled, broken
glass has been thrown in the yard where its
dogs run and death threats have been sprayed
on nearby clis and a railway crossing.
Schiebel gures it has cost the ranch around
$100,000.
We have lost good customers, particularly
restaurants, that say they can’t be associated
with all the controversy, he says. We had to
sell o a number of our animals before
maturity when things looked like they were
taking a turn for the worse.
Neighbours have not been immune to the
fallout. A local contractor purchased new
equipment to work on the project, but now his
machines sit idle.
While local residents did not relish the idea of
going to jail if they continued the blockade, that
hasn’t stopped a splinter group of Shuswap Nation
members from stepping in. The “Secwepemc
Grassroots reinstated the blockade in July and
eectively halted the trucks. Arrow Transport, Turtle
Valley and Kamloops all agreed to put the project
on hold last fall.
The way a splinter group of protestors
have been able to grab power from the
leaders who initially proposed the project
mysties Schiebel.
“No one seems to be able to explain to us
how this small group has the veto power
over other First Nation representatives who
were consulted and indeed introduced us to
the project, he notes.
Schiebel is equally frustrated by the fake
science and vitriol that’s circulated on social
media.
The ease at which ill-informed comments
or malicious attacks can now be shared is
becoming a new reality for farmers and
ranchers in todays social media-driven
world, he says.
At present, the project remains idle.
We were facing signicant opposition
from locals and later First Nations, says
Kamloops utility services manager Greg
Wightman. Although we were granted an
injunction against the protestors blocking
the road, we decided to put a pause on the
project.
The Kamloops biosolids committee has
presented eight possible solutions to council.
Agricultural application remains an option.
We went through a very expensive review
process to carefully outline all options, says
Wightman. “I actually presented this at a
national conference and people couldn’t
believe the opposition we faced in our
region.
Meanwhile, the backlog of biosolids in
Kamloops continues to grow, assisted by the
protestors. Sources say byproducts from local septic
tanks are trucked down the road and processed and
stored at the Kamloops holding facility. Every time
the protestors ush, theyre adding to the problem.
SIGN OF PROTEST. Opposition to a biosolids application on a ranch near
Chase turned nasty last year. PHOTO / TOM WALKER
Rethinking the concept for mobile abattoirs
Funding
required before
taking next steps
McBride butcher Mark Roth has come up with a new approach to make mobile abattoirs viable for BC meat producers. PHOTO / ROCKY MOUNTAIN GOAT MEDIA INC.
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC JUNE 2020 | 19
Serving and Supporting the
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308 St. Laurent Avenue Quesnel, B.C. V2J 5A3
Producers can apply for an advance on calves, yearlings, lambs, bison, forage and grain up to $1,000,000.00 with the rst
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Advance Payments Program is available to association members on their feeder cattle purchases.
by JACKIE PEARASE
MCBRIDE – Hopes are high
that a government-inspected
Class E mobile abattoir may
soon move to the prototype
stage.
The proposal is driven by
McBride custom butcher
Mark Roth, who says the Class
E licensing system needs
work to better serve small-
scale farmers.
The construction of a
Class A abattoir in McBride in
2011 was what led Roth to
become a butcher. He
dropped his plans to work at
the new plant after a stint of
on-farm butchering and
cutting and wrapping at his
small butcher shop.
“I realized I really like that a
lot better, he explains. “I
completely fell in love with
that process. Its just so much
kinder.
Roth says abattoirs do a
good job but the process of
corralling, transporting,
chuting, head squeezing and
butchering at an unfamiliar
facility is not the way most
small-scale farmers want to
harvest their animals.
“In our valley, it’s been
proved time and again that
the abattoir model doesn’t t
with small farmers, he says,
noting that the McBride
facility has yet to operate
successfully for any length of
time. Its currently closed.
“It was handy for a few
people, this abattoir, but it
didn’t t the needs of the
whole valley. So there wasn’t
really a business to be had
because they were only
getting a small portion of the
business.
Roth and his father Darrell,
who runs a small-scale cattle
farm with a Class E licence,
developed the idea for an
inspected abattoir that could
be viable for remote
locations.
Mobile abattoirs are not a
new idea. Roth says they
have not been nancially
successful because the units
were much too large and the
docking station requirements
are beyond what most
farmers are willing to do to
slaughter a handful of
animals each year.
His solution is a 16-foot
refrigerated truck pulling an
18-foot skinning trailer that
would eliminate the docking
station requirements and
carry enough potable water
for the slaughter of four
animal units.
The long-term aim is to
provide remote inspection via
video but current legislation
does not allow that scenario.
In the meantime, Roth
proposes to have a
government meat inspector
in the unit so the meat being
harvested can then be sold to
restaurants and grocery
stores.
Currently, a Class E licence
only allows for on-farm
slaughter of up to 10 animal
units for direct sale to
consumers.
What I’m trying to do with
this inspected farm harvest
unit is to bring the inspection
to the farm, he says. “I think
the beauty of these units is
they bring inspected
slaughter to people who
don’t have the infrastructure
– like business people who
don’t have the infrastructure.
Roth received a boost
when he shared his idea with
See MINISTRY on next page
o
MINISTRY supportive nfrom page 19
20 | JUNE 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
Producer Check-o
Supports Beef
Industry Projects.
www.cattlefund.net
1.877.688.2333
www.cattlefund.net
1.877.688.2333
BC agriculture minister Lana
Popham when she visited
McBride in 2018.
“She was just unbelievably
supportive, he says. “She’s
allowed me to work with the
top three guys in meat
inspection to see if we can
make something work.
Roth is working closely
with senior sta in the
ministrys food safety and
inspection branch, including
operations manager Klaus
Noegel, veterinarian Ken
Robeleski and executive
director Gavin Last.
We have been providing
support for Mark to
understand and meet
licensing requirements and to
work with him on innovative
ideas to meet those
requirements, Last explains.
Last says seven mobile
abattoirs have operated in BC
in recent years but none are
currently operating. He says
the province is interested in
new ideas around mobile
abattoirs, including remote
inspection via video.
Were looking at it. We’re
certainly interested in it and
want to learn more about all
kinds of alternative methods
for inspection so that we
could oer a service thats
meeting the needs of
everybody in the province,
which is challenging given
the geography and where the
populations are and where
they have their farms, Last
says.
Trailer manufacturer Bill
Barnes added his ample
knowledge and experience to
creating a design for the
mobile unit.
Barnes says interest from
both levels of government in
developing a replicable
prototype makes him hopeful
that federal funding will be
available soon to see the
project to fruition.
There are certain things
that have to change within
the industry in order to make
this a very frugal operation…
for whoever’s going to take it
over and for the government
once it’s running, once the
equipment’s out there,
Barnes adds.
Once a prototype is
complete at Barnes’ Prince
George facility, Shur Foot
Industries Inc., Roth plans to
operate the unit.
Roth suggests the new
mobile abattoir could also
provide an additional
revenue stream for A and B
abattoirs. The unit could be a
stand-alone business
operating out of such a
facility or mobile operators
could rent the cut and wrap
portions of Class A/B plants
during slow periods. It would
also provide options for
small-scale farmers to build
their herds and develop new
markets for their meat, thus
creating more work for
custom butchers.
Middle ground
We think that place
between ‘personal use only
and industrial scale class A/B
is a huge market if we can
nd a way to access it, he
notes. “One inspected farm
harvest unit could supply
several small butcher shops
with carcasses to cut and
wrap over a much larger area
than a stationary abattoir and
lowers the infrastructure
barrier for both small scale
farmers and small scale meat
shops who do not have
slaughter capabilities.
Roth says his on-farm
slaughter service is the same
regardless of whether or not
he holds a Class E licence.
“So to call it a class
anything and pretend that
that gives it some sort of
guarantee that it’s healthy or
government-approved is kind
of crazy. Its a pretty
meaningless licence, he
explains. At the end of the
day, if you have a dishonest
farmer, they can do dishonest
things without getting
caught. Thats the problem
with Class E.
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Mark Roth says mobile abattoirs haven’t been successful because they are too big. His vision includes a self-
sufcient truck and trailer, eliminating the need for on-farm infrastructure. PHOTO / ROCKY MOUNTAIN GOAT MEDIA INC.
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UNCERTAIN FUTURE. Beef producers say they are not getting the nancial support they need to cope with the
fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. FILE PHOTO / LINDSAY BARTKO
Ranchers brand
gov’t support
inadequate
Beef prices show sign of reviving
as plants restart
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC JUNE 2020 | 21
T
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by TOM WALKER
KAMLOOPS – Despite an
improvement in cattle prices,
ranchers still face plenty of
challenges as well as a lack of
support from government.
BC Cattlemens Association
general manager Kevin Boon
says it’s frustrating to hear
governments say the beef
industry is important to the
food supply yet avoid
providing nancial support.
While governments in
Alberta and Saskatchewan
have stepped up to match
federal funding for a set-aside
program for beef that have
been backed up in feedlots for
the past eight weeks, Boon
isn’t optimistic about similar
support from Victoria.
A proposal for feeder cattle,
the ones BC ranchers typically
backgrounds before sending
to feedlots in Alberta, would
be important for BC, Boon
notes.
Those are the cattle that
are ready and supposed to
going to the pens in Alberta
that are held up with the
backlog, he said.
A set-aside program, which
would compensate producers
for the cost of holding fed
cattle until the market is ready
to receive them, is an idea the
Canadian Cattlemens
Association has been pitching
since April. Ottawa has so far
refused to consider a full-
edged version, however,
preferring to enhance its
existing suite of business risk
management programs.
Set-aside funding is
currently allocated through
AgriRecovery to the tune of
$50 million, an amount the
industry calls extremely
disappointing.
Alberta’s backlog of cattle
totals 130,000 that require
more than $500,000 a day in
feed. CCA president Bob Lowe
says producers had spent $50
million and more prior to
Ottawa announcing the
funding on May 5.
Requests for assistance to
help with the huge rise in
premiums for the Western
Livestock Price Insurance
Program (WLPIP) have also
gone unanswered.
Alberta and Saskatchewan
have opened their coers
instead.
Alberta is providing $17
million towards the set-aside
program as part of its 40%
cost-sharing agreement with
Ottawa. Saskatchewan ponied
up $5 million in matching
funds as well as $5 million to
partially oset higher WLPIP
premiums.
Boon is doubtful BC will
provide any kind of a
premium support for the
WLPIP.
“BC has upped the trigger
rates for AgriStability and feel
that that is probably a safer
coverage for them than
getting into premiums, he
says.
But WLPIP is especially
important for young
producers.
What we are asking BC to
support is to allow for
payment of the premiums on
WLPIP accounts when they
settle the contract at the end,
similar to Alberta,
Saskatchewan and Manitoba,
Boon says. That would allow
producers to retain more of
their operating funds through
the summer when cash ow is
tight.
There is some good news,
however.
There is starting to be a
market in Western Canada,
CCA executive vice president
Dennis Laycraft told a virtual
townhall meeting on May 21.
“Cargill started to bid on cattle
last week.
The change reects
increased capacity at packing
plants across North America.
Cargill reopened its High River
plant on May 4 following a
two-week shutdown and was
at 75% capacity on May 21.
JBS added a second shift at its
Brooks plant on May 20,
having slowed to one shift for
a month, and was at 50%
capacity.
Together, those two plants
account for 70% of beef
processing capacity in
Canada. The plants have been
able to take advantage of the
$77.5 million Emergency
Processing Fund Ottawa
announced in early May to
assist with worker safety
improvements.
We have seen a huge price
spike in fed cattle over the last
week and massive volatility,
says Rick Wright of the
Livestock Markets Association
of Canada.
He said the price for
Alberta fed cattle dressed and
delivered to packers rose from
$2.00 to $2.50 lb in seven
days, despite the backlog of
cattle in Western feedlots.
That price looks to be a
temporary situation, says
Wright, noting that there
seems to be a gap between
fed yearlings and the heavy
fed calves that will come on in
about a month.
“Packers are reaching out to
nd the long fed cattle that
have superior grade yield, he
says.
He adds that BC steer
calves being traded on
electronic sales at 700 lbs for
October delivery have brought
$2.00 lb in the last week.
Looking ahead, Wright says
Colorado-based beef market
data rm CattleFax is
predicting steady prices this
fall, with 550 lb calves at $2.15
and 800 lb yearlings at $1.90.
CattleFax predicts that the
backlog of fed cattle will
inuence the market on both
sides of the border well into
the fourth quarter.
They felt that might
negatively aect the price of
feeder cattle this fall, he says.
Boon, for his part, is glad
the market is showing signs of
life, and he praised the work
of those on the frontlines of
the food supply for showing
up for work.
“Hats o to those guys
coming back in Cargill, JBS
and Harmony in Alberta, he
adds. Those workers are
showing they are supporting
the food chain and without
them in there those plants
wouldn’t be working.
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Dairy reduces
energy costs with
solar power
Bomi Farms has the largest solar
installation on a farm in BC
Dairy farmer Rene Miedema is extremely pleased with the grid solar panel system installed by Roost Solar last
year. PHOTO / JACKIE PEARASE
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC JUNE 2020 | 23
by JACKIE PEARASE
ENDERBY – On a sunny
afternoon in the North
Okanagan, dairy farmer Rene
Miedema may be found
watching his hydro meter
with a huge smile on his face.
Solar power will do that to
a farmer.
Miedema is smiling
because the solar panels
installed on his dairy barn’s
south-facing roof last fall are
osetting most of his
monthly hydro bill.
He farms 200 acres of corn
and hay east of Enderby on
Trinity Valley Road. Bomi
Farms has about 110 cows
milked by two robotic
milkers.
The grid solar panel system
runs his milking barn, house,
young stock barn and a small
barn now used for his wife’s
ower business. A wash
station for a new market
vegetable enterprise will be
added soon as well.
“Every single building on
the farm is run through solar,
Miedema says. We had
hoped to oset 96%, and my
wife is adding to our load, so
we might end up osetting a
little less.
Steve Russell of Roost Solar
says the 151 kilowatt grid
solar panel system on
Miedema’s barn is expected
to produce over 170,000 kWh
annually. Unlike o-grid
systems that utilize batteries,
a grid system puts excess
solar back into the electrical
grid.
“BC Hydro and Fortis oer
a program where any excess
solar power gets fed back
into the grid and you get full
credit for that to draw down
on that credit at night or
winter when you’re not
producing as much solar
power, Russell explains.
About one-third of Roost
Solars business is agricultural,
with most installs being
much smaller in scale.
Miedema’s is the largest
solar installation on a farm in
BC, according to BC Hydro.
“Renes (system) osets
almost everything and its
quite a big install for this area.
Its 438 panels, which is
pushing the limits of what
even BC Hydro allows, Russell
adds. We went as high as we
basically could according to
his electrical service.
The power produced by
the system goes into a bank
of inverters, then is fed into
two separate meters on the
farm.
The solar panels can be
monitored remotely to show
what is being produced daily,
monthly and annually on a
panel-by-panel basis.
There is also an automatic
alert for any issues with the
system. All the panels have a
25-year performance
warranty. Just one panel has
been changed out since the
installation.
Embracing technology
Miedema is no stranger to
embracing technology. He
faced a strong learning curve
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24 | JUNE 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
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THE BC DAIRY HISTORICAL SOCIETY IS SEEKING NOMINATIONS of
producers, processors, BC Dairy Pioneers, supporters of the BC Dairy industry,
writers or other individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the BC
Dairy Industry. To nominate a worthy individual, submit a short summary of your
nominees contributions to the industry. Nominations are to be submitted online
at www.bcdairyhistory.ca under the Achievement Awards Tab.
Nominations close October 2nd.
The award will be presented at the 2020 BC Dairy Conference Gala Banquet.
2020 BC DAIRY INDUSTRY
ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
BCDairy
HISTORICAL SOCIETY
13 years ago when he
installed two DeLaval milking
robots.
Looking to the future,
Miedema expects the dairy
industry to see smaller prot
margins, which pushes him to
nd ways to diversify and
economize.
The choice to go solar was
simple math based on proven
technology that has become
more nancially feasible in
recent years, although it still
required a hefty bank loan.
“Its a big, big number. But
we hope, depending on what
the rates do and how quickly
we can pay down the loan,
we hope to be even within
say 12 to 15 years. Then, after
that, it’s gravy, Miedema says.
“Even now, if you just do
back-of-your-napkin math,
were getting 3% on our
money, on our investment.
Its an investment. Its a long-
term investment.
He encourages other
producers to seriously
consider solar as an option.
“If somebody is building a
new facility, I honestly believe
this is a no-brainer. If you
have the opportunity to
orient the barn properly,
maybe adjust the slope of
your roof, you just roll that
into the cost of your overall
structure.
Miedema says the move to
solar will make any producer
happy.
“I just love it. Its a sunny
day today and I know its
trickling in; we’re making a
bit of money on that.
Ingratta heads
dairy commision
by DAVID SCHMIDT
OTTAWA – Bob Ingratta is
back in the dairy industry.
Ingratta was CEO of the BC
Milk Marketing Board for
almost six years, from
December 2011 to March
2017. Three years later, he has
been appointed as chair of the
Canadian Dairy Commission.
Saying strong leadership is
required in the coming year,
federal agriculture minister
Marie-Claude Bibeau called
Ingrattas depth of knowledge
and experience in agriculture
and corporate governance …
valuable assets to the CDC.
Ingratta is the second BC
resident in a row to lead the
CDC. He follows in the
footsteps of outgoing chair
Alistair Johnston. Johnston is
also an appointed director of
the BC Chicken Marketing
Board.
“I am honoured to help the
industry work through
changes as CDC delivers
service on many fronts,
Ingratta said.
CDC’s main responsibilities
are to set the support price of
butter and skim milk powder
and to monitor national milk
production and demand and
recommend adjustments to
the national production target
for industrial milk.
To address supply issues
during the COVID-19
pandemic, CDC has received
$200 million to purchase dairy
products dislocated by
shifting demand. Canada's
dairy industry is also wrestling
with how to replace Class 7,
established under the national
ingredient strategy, which the
industry lost during negotiation
of the new Canada-US-Mexico
free trade agreement (CUSMA).
Solar nfrom page 23
countrylifeinbc.com
visit us online
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC JUNE 2020 | 25
A recent review of the literature on how dairy
cattle are housed illustrates that the public’s
perceptions are at odds with the reality of industry
practices.
In terms of
animal
welfare, the
public
expects that
dairy cattle
should have
access to pasture, freedom to roam and the ability to
interact with each other. It is not an unreasonable
expectation and in the broader context of other
livestock – beef cattle, sheep and horses – it is an
understandable point of view for a public not
involved with the special responsibilities in the dairy
industry.
The review was undertaken by Marina von
Keyserlingk, NSERC Industrial Research Chair with
the UBC Animal Welfare Program, Faculty of Land
and Food Systems, and her colleagues as well as
researchers at the University of PEI. The review,
“Considerations for the future of dairy cattle housing:
An animal welfare perspective was published in the
Journal of Dairy Science.
We see dierent publics questioning dairy, likely
in large part because there is a growing realization
that the lives led by the cows are very dierent than
what they imagined, says von Keyserlingk. This
dierence causes them to question things. Our work
indicates that even when we educate them there are
still practices that are out of line with societal
expectations. This potentially undermines public
trust and undermines the social sustainability of
dairy farming.
In the various papers reviewed, many non-farmers
equated pasture access with positive animal health
and welfare, and a high percentage opposed zero-
grazing systems. But access to pasture also came
with an asterisk; participants in one of the studies
reviewed rated indoor housing with ventilation (barn
fans) more favourably than pasture without access to
shade (increased risk of heat stress). People favour
natural cow management but not at the expense of
cow health.
There is also context to consider in pasture turnout.
The public sees cows on pasture but do not
necessarily think about dierences in seasons, says
von Keyserlingk. “Experimental work indicates that
cows do prefer pasture, particularly at night and
during the summer.
While naturalness is a priority among the non-
farming public, cow management to maximize
health and productivity is essential for farmers. Tie
stalls, lack of pasture and individual housing for
calves may seem unnatural to the public but farmers
consider these things essential for practical cow care
and economics.
The third player in this equation is the cow and its
own motivations. The review states that dairy cattle
that are highly motivated to access pasture show a
reduction in oral stereotypies, or repetitive
behaviour, when turned out to pasture after being
tethered in the barn.
The conundrum is that the non-farming public,
the dairy farmers and the cows themselves are all on
the same page. Physical and mental health matter.
The review states that certain behaviours are more
critical than others, and further evaluation of the
cows priorities is necessary to continue to improve
their housing.
Those housing improvements could include the
use of modern technology. While, at rst glance, that
may appear to deviate even further from natural
living, it may actually facilitate natural behaviour by
the cows while still not fully providing natural
environments.
Todays technology oers dairy farmers options
unheard of a few decades ago. Automated calf
feeders provide calves not only milk on demand but
a means to satisfy the strong urge to suckle. They
also provide the benet of animal monitoring and
options for individualized care which improves both
health outcomes and natural expression. Automated
milking systems are used on many dairy farms. Smart
computing is on the horizon with dairy-specic
technologies that will monitor the health of cattle
remotely so that animals grazing on pasture can be
brought into the barn for health checks. Health data
might be transmitted by ear tags. Drones are already
in use in beef cattle management on the range and
likely have application for dairy cows on pasture.
We argue that the long-term sustainability of the
dairy industry will depend on the extent to which
housing systems reect public concerns and the
animals’ priorities, the review states. The adoption
of technologies, such as automated feeders and
remote monitoring systems, may represent a means
to practically promote the animals’ natural behaviour
while simultaneously improving individualized care.
Although older generations may consider
technological solutions to be a further deviation
from dairy farming’s agrarian roots, the denition of
“naturalness for younger generations may well have
expanded to include technology.
Continued use of technology could bridge the
division between the expectation of the public and
the farming community. Given how naturally young
farmers today embrace technology, the review
suggests that the denition of naturalness has
shifted across generations to include technology
which will help achieve a compromise between
stakeholders and their priorities.
Dairy housing a matter of perspective
Study says technology could help bridge gap between perception and reality
Research
by MARGARET EVANS
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Exceptionally
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DOING IT RIGHT. Innovative trellising, light-reecting ground covers and a strong back have contributed to near-perfect harvests of Honeycrisp apples for
grower Devin Jell of Summerland. He was presented with the BC Fruit Growers’ Association’s Golden Apple award this year. PHOTO / CARL WITHLER
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC JUNE 2020 | 27
Insurance products and services are provided through Assante Estate and Insurance Services Inc. Please visit
www.assante.com/legal.jsp or contact Assante at 1-800-268-3200 for information with respect to important
legal and regulatory disclosures relating to this notice.
Financial planning
for farm families
Farm transition coaching
Customized portfolio strategy
Retirement income planning
Driediger Wealth Planning
Mark Driediger, CFP, FEA, Senior Wealth Advisor
Brent Driediger, BAA, CPA, CMA, CFP, Wealth Advisor
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Assante Financial Management Ltd.
BC FRUIT GROWERS’ ASSOCIATION
1-800-619-9022 (ext 1)
email: replant@bcfga.com
www.bcfga.com
The Province of BC has provided funding to enhance the
competitiveness of the tree fruit sector.
The fund is open to tree fruit growers, producers, and processors to
support three key areas of priority:
Research: cultivar, disease and pest research.
Marketing: export market opportunities and market
development research.
Infrastructure: sector-based infrastructure
modernization such as new equipment.
The Tree Fruit Competitiveness Fund is jointly delivered by the
BC Fruit Growers’ Association and Investment Agriculture
Foundation BC.
For details about the Tree Fruit Competitiveness Fund, including
eligibility and application forms, please visit www.bcfga.com or
iafbc.ca/tree-fruit, or contact funding@iafbc.ca.
Project intake is continous. Apply in advance of project
initiation – 8 weeks minimum is recommended.
Tree Fruit Competitiveness Fund
Grower harvests near-perfect Honeycrisps
by TOM WALKER
SUMMERLAND – Order is
certainly a word that comes to
mind when you look at Devin
Jell’s Summerland apple
orchard. The rows are
perfectly straight, with
alternate trees angled 15
degrees o-centre to form a V-
shape. The trees are
supported by a trellis and the
lateral branches are taped to
the cordon wires like a grape
vine. The space between the
trees within the row is
carefully pruned to be clear of
any growth and buds are
meticulously thinned down to
around 120 apples per tree.
“I think I am driven to ght
entropy, to build order out of
chaos, says Jell, this years
recipient of the Golden Apple
award from the BC Fruit
Growers Association,
presented at the BC Tree Fruit
Horticultural Symposium in
Kelowna at the end of
February. “Nature wants to just
do chaos and I am trying to
put order back into the
system.
Jell admits that over his 14
years of farming there have
been setbacks, like the
summer of 2018 when he lost
several thousand trees to
Sudden Apple Decline.
“Its a tug of war, he says.
“Some years she wins, some
years I win. But I get a good
deal of satisfaction out of
that.
Jell and his wife Janine are
carrying on the farming
legacy of the Gartrell family,
operators of the Okanagan’s
oldest continuous family farm.
James Gartrell brought his
family out from Stratford,
Ontario in 1885 and became
the rst commercial orchardist
in the valley. The farm, now
known as Sun-Oka Fruit
Farms, has been in the family
ever since.
“My father-in-law and his
brother were looking to retire
around 2005, says Jell. “Having
no sons, they started looking
for a son-in-law with a rubber
arm they could twist.
The Gartrell brothers had
some specic qualities in
mind for their successor.
They told me they were
looking for someone with a
weak mind and a strong back,
Jell quips. And they settled on
me.
It turns out a strong mind is
critical to Jell’s success at
growing his signature apple,
Honeycrisp.
“If you grow them right,
they really eat well, Jell says. “I
can’t imagine an apple tasting
any better than that.
But the variety has endless
challenges, he says.
Anything that can go
wrong with an apple goes
wrong with Honeycrisp, he
says.
A degree in molecular
biology from the University of
Victoria has helped Jell
understand and control the
varietys issues.
“I am very cause-and-
eect, he explains. “I take
meticulous notes and I do a
lot of things through trial and
error.
He has been researching
how tomato growers have
solved a problem that also
aects Honeycrisp apples, and
over the last two years he has
had success.
“I don’t want to put (the
solution) out there just yet, he
says. “I want to be sure it is not
just correlation, but actually
causation.
His success as a grower is
clear, however.
When he started shipping
to Kelowna-based
independent packinghouse
Consolidated Fruit Packers
Ltd. two years ago, he was
told the industry standard for
Honeycrisp culls was 50%.
“Last year, I watched some
of my apples coming down
the line and I got a cull rate of
only 2.4%, he says. “I declared
victory. I don’t think I can get
any better than that.
See TRELLIS on next page
o
TRELLIS system maximizes light nfrom page 27
28 | JUNE 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
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LandQuest
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CFP eldperson Sera Lean
says that Jell’s skills with
Honeycrisp are part of what
prompted her to nominate
him for the award.
“Honeycrisp is not a starter
apple. They require a lot of
skill, she notes. “Devin grows
them well and he does it
consistently.
Jell has become a agship
grower for the company she
adds.
“Knowing that he can
produce hundreds of bins of
top quality fruit, thats how
you build an export program.
A lot of that success comes
from his innovative V-trellis
system, which he designed
and built on his own.
“I was mowing the grass
early one morning and
thought about how I am really
in the business of harvesting
light, and I needed to get
more of it into the trees, rather
than just let the light fall on
the ground, he says.
The system is increasingly
popular with Washington
state apple growers but Jell’s
fellow growers in BC dismissed the idea.
They all mocked me and told me it had been
tried before, but I am stubborn, he says.
The angle of the trees allow them to catch more
sunlight, while the 12-foot height makes better use
of the land base.
“I have twice as much fruiting surface per acre, he
notes.
Branches from each tree are trained left and right
along the cordon wires to create two continuous
fruiting walls for each row of trees. He uses a more
vigorous rootstock to support the greater tree area.
The arrangement of trees also allows better
penetration of sprays while the open canopy
improves air ow to reduce disease pressure. But its
during picking where the system really shows merit.
“Pickers eyes light up when they see this fruiting
wall, says Jell.
When a picker goes up the ladder, apples are
within easy distance because the tree is only six to
eight inches deep.
“It is safer for them because
they don’t have to lean and
reach inside the tree, explains
Jell. They can pick a lot faster
and do really well with a piece
rate.
On the downside, the
system is considerably more
expensive to install than a
regular super-spindle plantings.
He says he was lucky to get
the steel he needed at “the
lowest price in decades
following the 2008 recession.
The system also requires
thousands of hours more
pruning time than a super-
spindle system, Jell says. He
has two full-time employees
dedicated to pruning the
orchard.
The angle of the trees does
cut the amount of sunlight
that gets through to the
bottom fruit, however. Jell was
an early adopter of reective
material placed on the
orchard oor to bounce
sunlight back into the canopy
to help fruit colour up as
picking season approaches.
Hes been using it since 2011.
“It denitely works and is very valuable for this
system, he says.
Jell says he gets a lot of satisfaction seeing the
results of his work at harvest time.
When you look at all of the things that can go
wrong for you in farming, the odds seem stacked
against you, he says. “It doesn’t happen every year,
but to be able to come out at the end with bin after
bin of perfect-looking apples, it gives a sense of
accomplishment.
A new crop on the way. Devin Jell’s trellis system did not come cheap but it maximizes his acreage, increases the
canopy and improves air ow, and makes his fruit super-easy to harvest. Pickers love it. PHOTO / TOM WALKER
Making the shift
from table to
wine grapes
New winery makes its debut as
COVID-19 restrictions ease
COVID-19 stalled but couldn’t stop Darren and Jane Sawin from ofcially opening Priest Creek Family Estate
Winery’s new tasting room in southeast Kelowna on May 20. The property was part of a parcel farmed by the rst
European settler in Kelowna, Father Charles Pandosy, who is said to have planted fox grapes in 1859 for
sacramental wine, making him the valley’s rst grapegrower and winemaker. PHOTO / MYRNA STARK LEADER
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC JUNE 2020 | 29
by MYRNA STARK LEADER
KELOWNA – While many
wineries struggle with online
sales, it was the only option
for one of Kelownas newest
wineries when it launched
amid the COVID-19
pandemic. But when
restrictions lifted in mid-May,
visitors nally had a chance to
see what three years of work
had done to the historic
property.
When Darren and Jane
Sawin purchased their 12.5-
acre vineyard in southeast
Kelowna ve years ago, it had
eight acres of mature Einset
Seedless vines – one of the
largest plantings of the pink
table grape in the province –
and 2.5 acres of 25-year old
Gewürztraminer vines. The
couple had relocated to the
Okanagan from Calgary in
2005, taking time to purchase
the right land where they
could raise their four children,
today ages 12 to 23.
“Darren was raised on a
large cattle ranch in southern
Saskatchewan and grew up
farming so we wanted a
family business the kids could
grow into if they wanted, says
Karen, also raised on a
Saskatchewan farm.
The couple initially focused
on growing and marketing
the table grapes themselves,
then began selling them to
BC Tree Fruits Co-operative.
The Gewürztraminer went to
Ex Nihilo Vineyards in Lake
Country. But with the farm as
their sole source of income,
the returns didn’t pencil out.
BC Tree Fruits negotiated
contracts on behalf of
growers, and the Sawins felt
they weren’t getting top
dollar for their fruit. The co-op
priced grapes the same for all
customers, even though the
Sawins knew some customers
were willing to pay the co-op
a higher price.
We actually listed the
property for sale thinking we
were going to go nd another
property on this bench with
wine grapes, says Darren.
Then, by chance or fate,
they met Jason Parkes, owner
of The Hatch Wines in
Kelowna, Perseus Winery in
Penticton, and the builder of
Indigenous World Winery in
West Kelowna.
Jason actually looked at
our property three times and
almost put an oer on it, but
decided to meet with us. He
said, This is a perfect
property for a winery right
between other wineries. Why
are you selling it? You even
have some wine grapes. Let’s
do this together. I’ll help you
and teach you and guide
you, explains Karen.
With Parkes’ vision and
partnership in grape growing,
grape procurement and
winemaking, they spent two
and a half years creating
Priest Creek Family Estate
Winery, incorporated in 2018.
That year they pulled out
the Einsets, replanting eight
acres with three clones of
Pinot Noir as well as some
Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay.
They began making wine
from their Gewürztraminer
grapes plus Cabernet
Sauvignon and other varieties
purchased from growers in
Oliver. And they built a
winery and tasting room.
The Sawins will focus on
red wine production to
dierentiate themselves from
nearby wineries such as
SpearHead, Tantalus and
Vibrant Vine.
The more wineries you
get closer together, the
better. Its not competition,
says Darren.
While hes been involved in
farming since he was a kid
(“farming is farming, he says),
Darren is grateful for the
assistance hes received from
Parkes, who serves as
consulting winemaker. The
experience of some of his
eld workers has also been
invaluable. They also had
access to Parkes’ viticulturist
last year.
“She came out twice a
week and taught me. She
made a spray plan for us, he
says.
Their business plan calls for
a maximum production of
5,000 cases. They bottled
1,400 cases in 2019 and are
hoping for 2,000 this year.
Creating small, approximately
200-case lots, their product is
ltered in Oliver at Cellar
Dweller and taken to Artus
Bottling Ltd. in Penticton. To
enhance his winemaking
skills, Darren took Washington
State Universitys online
viticulture course last year.
Their production facility
has room to accommodate
extra tanks as they scale up to
5,000 cases. In time, theyd
also like to purchase 10 acres
of land in the southern
Okanagan to increase control
over their red grape supply.
However, one of the
challenges in the whole
operation has been nancing.
It typically costs about
$30,000 an acre to replant
grapes. There is no grape
replant program, and with no
o-farm income they haven’t
been able to access bank
nancing. Winery
development to date has
been done entirely with
savings.
Just like marketing their
table grapes, marketing their
wine hasn’t been without
challenges.
Public health measures
designed to limit the spread
of COVID-19 prompted them
to launch with only online
sales and curbside pick-up.
But on May 20, after the
province relaxed restrictions,
they were excited to open
their tasting room while
following health guidelines.
We just want to welcome
customers face-to-face, says
Jane.
At the same time, the pair
remain optimistic they’ve
chosen the right business for
grapes.
The owner of Vibrant Vine
and I were visiting one day
and he asked me, ‘Have you
ever met a grumpy old
farmer?’ I said yes, and he
said, ‘Have you ever met a
grumpy old winemaker?
Theres none. Theyre all
happy, he said, says Darren.
And he was right.
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30 | JUNE 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
Even when we’re apart,
we stand together.
As we navigate the impact of COVID-19 world and recover from the
disruption caused by the global pandemic in the coming months, its
critical that we continue to support one another and work together to
build a more resilient nation and agriculture sector.
Many of you may have questions during this time as you think about
ways to re-open or sustain your farm operations and rebuild for the
future, while continuing to protect yourself, your family and your
employees. We want you to know that RBC is here to support you
and the Canadian agriculture community.
We understand that every farm operation is unique. Whether its
offering a relevant solution from the RBC Client Relief Program* to
help support producers and farm operators who have been impacted
by COVID-19, or exploring tailored fi nancing solutions and providing
advice around longer-term business owner, risk and contingency
planning, we’re here to help. We encourage you to speak with your
RBC Agriculture Account Manager to discuss your business needs.
They can work with you to determine the best options to help
support your recovery and growth plans.
The situation remains very fl uid, and we’ll continue to evolve our
approach as we navigate the current and post-COVID environment.
For the latest updates, please visit
www.rbc.com/businessrelief.
RBC has proudly served the Canadian agriculture community for more
than 150 years and we’ve been through a lot together during that time.
The challenges may differ, but the resolve of Canadian producers and
RBC’s dedicated employees never wavers. I want to thank our clients
and our employees for your extraordinary resilience and commitment
to work through these challenging times together so that we can build
a stronger future for the industry and nation.
As always, we stand together with you.
Sincerely,
Ryan Riese
National Director of Agriculture
RBC
*The RBC Client Relief Program is available for a limited time with some options available only until June 30, 2020. Some of these
options may increase your interest costs or your outstanding principal balance over the life of your loan or increase the
outstanding balance on your credit card during the relief period, if applicable. You should carefully evaluate your
nancial situation and priorities before exercising any of these options. For more information on how
RBC supports producers visit rbc.com/agriculture
®
Trademark of Royal Bank of Canada.
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC JUNE 2020 | 31
by BARBARA JOHNSTONE
GRIMMER
SATURNA ISLAND – A
summer tradition on Saturna
Island since 1950, the annual
Saturna Lamb Barbecue is one
of many events cancelled
across BC this year in
response to concerns
associated with COVID-19.
Normally held every July 1,
this one-day event brings in
more than $50,000 as a
fundraiser for the tiny Gulf
Island community of 350
people, while boosting lamb
sales for island sheep
producers. The Argentine-
style lamb barbeque attracts
tourists by boat and ferry
from all the neighbouring
islands and mainland. Up to
1,300 meals are served to
approximately 2,000 visitors.
At the centre of the action
is Campbell Farm, one of two
Class A abattoirs in the
southern Gulf Islands. The
small facility serves farmers
on Saturna and neighbouring
islands. It processes all lambs
for the barbecue, work that
kicks o operations for another year.
Jacques Campbell operates Campbell Farm with
her brother Tom and sister Nan. She is also a
director of the BC Association of Abattoirs and BC
Sheep Federation.
Campbell Farm has 100 commercial ewes and
about 10 cows. Approximately half its 560 acres is
arable and the rest is primarily forested and rocky.
Campbell Farm was started by Jacques’ parents
Jim and Lorraine Campbell in 1945 after they
completed their agriculture
studies at UBC. They started
with beef but transitioned to
mainly lamb because of the
suitability of sheep to the
climate and landscape, and
the high demand for Gulf
Island lamb.
The abattoir was originally
built in the late 1950s with
advice from the UBC Faculty
of Agriculture. There are two
levels in the plant: a drop
oor allows for beef to be
hung, and a walk-in cooler on
the upper level has an
overhead track to move the
carcasses.
When the meat regulations
changed in 2007, the
upgrades needed for the
plant were minimal, requiring
only improved surfaces and a
closed-in ceiling. Other items
were added – like a bolt gun
and sanitizers for the knives.
There were additional
considerations, such as an
oce and bathroom to be
provided for the inspector.
Slaughter is seasonal,
running from June to
December. The abattoir runs
three days a week, with one day for slaughter and
two days for cutting and wrapping. The inspector
comes on an early ferry from Victoria, arriving at the
Class A plant typically kicks off season with community BBQ, but not this year
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Jacques Campbell of Campbell Farm, Saturna Island with some of her lambs. PHOTO / BOB ESTEY
See QUICK on next page
o
The annual Saturna
Lamb Barbecue on the
Canada Day weekend
typically raises
$50,000 for
community projects
but like just about
every other
community event this
year, it has been
cancelled due to the
COVID-19 pandemic.
PHOTO / NETTIE ADAMS
QUICK turnaround nfrom page 31
32 | JUNE 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
farm around
6:30 am, and
work ends when
the inspector
heads to the
ferry around 10
am.
Campbell
said that when
changes to the
meat inspection
regulations
were
announced in
2004, they were
rst told that
there was no
room for small
slaughterhouses
like hers. That
attitude has
since changed.
She feels that
the advantage
of the licence
and the
inspection
process
outweighs the
expense and
extra oversight,
providing
opportunity.
They have
scheduled
slaughter days
and sell beef
and lamb in the
local store and
to the local
restaurants.
Campbell
Farms abattoir
provides
custom cut-and-
wrap services
for farmers on
islands without
their own
abattoir.
Campbell has
been trained to
assess the quality of the carcasses and label as
premium those that meet the standard. Each
package and box is identied with a unique
label tracing the meat to the RFID tag on the
animal and farm of origin.
Campbell Farm has a customer base of
sheep and beef producers from neighbouring
islands who bring their animals by truck on
the ferries or from smaller islands by barge.
Sometimes the schedules require an overnight
stay, which is dicult with COVID-19
restrictions in place. One ever-evolving
challenge is the ferries themselves. Rates seem
to always go up and schedules altered.
Campbell has been an early adopter of
technology, using a Psion RFID reader,
Farmworks software and a Bluetooth-enabled
scale head to
monitor her
own ock’s
progress,
although she
does say that
her old method
of using paper
and pen works
well, too. She
participated in
the Canadian
Sheep
Federation RFID
Trial several
years ago, and
her farm hosted
a workshop for
sheep
producers in
2010 to show
the benets of
RFID and also to
show how the
abattoir
operates,
arranging for a
Canadian Food
Inspection
Agency
inspector to
attend.
Producers came
from Salt Spring,
Pender, Mayne
and Vancouver
Islands, and an
abattoir
operator came
from Gabriola
Island to see the
upgrades.
COVID-19
hasn’t changed
life on the farm
too much, but
Campbell is
planning for
changes in her
abattoir when
slaughter
begins in July.
She has applied for funding to help her adapt
the small plant to ensure safety for the people
who help slaughter, and for the inspector. She
expects that her usual capacity of 20 lambs in
a morning will be somewhat reduced by the
increased social distancing measures and a
reduction in sta from ve workers to four.
She explained how some meat plants have
installed ceiling-hung Plexiglas kill-oor
dividers. She is planning to order a face shield,
as well as other personal protection
equipment.
We were on a call with Dr. Bonnie Henry
who reassured us that the meat would not be
aected, says Campbell, We are to develop a
COVID plan and apply all the safety measures
that we can.
The Saturna community has responded in a
positive way to the cancellation of the annual
Saturna Lamb Barbecue.
We have sold everything we have; there is not
much left in the freezer, says Jacques Campbell of
Campbell Farm, which processes lamb for the 70-
year-old event.
When the cancellation was announced in early
May, she immediately had orders for eight lambs that
she was not expecting.
“If this is a slow season, I don’t know what the
busy season is going to be like, she says.
Busy season for lamb sales would normally start in
June, with 25-27 lambs slaughtered for the barbecue.
The regular season begins when the last of the hay is
in the barn.
“People are stepping up, “ agrees barbecue
co-chair Peggy Warren.
Donations are already coming in, and there are
plans to sell an un-ticket for $22.50, the price of a
barbecue ticket, as a fundraiser.
The Saturna Lamb Barbecue is a project of the
Saturna Community Club, the oldest organization on
the island. The club manages the community hall,
the cemetery, the recycling centre and the library.
Fundraising used to be applied to the health centre
which is now funded through local property taxes.
“Everyone on the island plays some role, says
Warren. “Firewood to be chopped, food to be made.
There is Spanish rice with a secret recipe, fresh baked
Haggis Farm rolls, homemade coleslaw, island-made
mint sauce and homemade cookies.
Priscilla Ewbank of Haggis Farm Bakery says the
event involves everyone in the community, from top
to bottom.
“Everyone is a volunteer, she says. “It is a time for
all of us to come together. The barbecue will be
missed, and the funds are important to the
community.
From humble beginnings as a school picnic, the
barbecue is now the main source of income for
community groups on Saturna. Of the $50,000 raised,
the barbeque nets $30,000 and various community
groups at the family-focussed event raise the
remaining $20,000.
— Barbara Johnstone Grimmer
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ABBOTSFORD – Changes to on-farm
safety standards as a result of COVID-19
were outlined in an online workshop BC
Ministry of Agriculture food safety specialist
Elsie Friesen led on April 29.
The good news during COVID-19 is that
you have a solid base in the procedures that
you’re using, she says.
Chilliwacks The Local Harvest operates a
38-acre farm that supplies produce to a
store at the front of the property. Similar to
other small operations, it isn’t CanadaGAP-
certied and doesn’t have a formal safety
plan but as co-owner Helen Oostenbrink
explains, it changed its eld and market
procedures in March. Sta, who number 10
at peak season, meet daily to put the
standards into practice. Theyre now second
nature.
The requirements from Fraser Health, those are
the ones were following, she says. We’ve done the
arrows, we’ve done the sign on the door limiting
people. Its a lot more extra work, but we’re doing it.
Fraser Health sent Oostenbrink a letter and visited
the market to discuss procedures. This includes
practices like physical distancing, handwashing,
hand sanitizer stations for customers and employees
and cleaning all surfaces.
“In regards to food safety, nothing is changed as
food operations address viruses at all times, says
Friesen.
Friesen says the virus that causes COVID-19 needs
a host to be able to replicate but it can be
transferred via contact with non-host items like
totes. This contagiousness is an issue when coupled
with the proximity of workers. Fortunately, the
protein coating the virus can be broken down by
soap, water and friction, neutralizing it. However,
sanitizers and disinfectants must be used as directed
to be eective.
The most important precautions are, 1) wash
your hands; 2) don’t touch your face; and 3) physical
distancing between other people, she says. “I
suspect that whatever changes we see at the
beginning of the season will continue to the end of
the season.
Splashing is also a key factor in contamination
and she advises using pressure washers outside
only. A four-step process – washing with soap and
water, rinsing, sanitizing and air drying – is necessary
for cleaning and sanitizing surfaces.
Oostenbrink is lucky that her business has a
number of sinks both in the warehouse and in the
store to facilitate increased handwashing. Her
business has also started putting produce
into plastic bags because of customer
preferences. Items weren’t selling without
it.
We pick it, do our safety practices and
bag it, she explains. “Its not what we stand
for. We were working towards no plastic.
Her safety practices include sanitizing
the washing station, hand washing and
washing the produce with clean cold water
before bagging. Stations are sanitized
between batches of produce.
Friesen advises operators to review
CanadaGAP sections 11 and 15 for
handwashing procedures. While these
standards require one handwashing station
for every 35 workers, she suggests it should
be one for every 15 to 20 workers during
the COVID-19 pandemic. Gloves may seem
to be the answer, but when compared to
soap and water, handwashing is more
economical.
Because COVID-19 is a biosecurity issue, the
footbaths common at poultry operations are a
consideration for other agricultural sec
tors.
The top of the shoe is where your, or others’,
speaking spittle or respiratory droplets fall down to
and if you end up tying or untying your shoes, it can
get on your hands, Friesen says.
Temperature checks are one way to identify those
who may have the virus, but Friesen notes these
checks must be done by someone in full personal
protective equipment with a medical-grade
thermometer.
If someone gets COVID-19, operators must
contact health authorities and have a written recall
plan they can implement. The ministry, along with
commodity associations, can help build such a plan.
Strengthening on-farm food safety protocols
Gradual reopening demands farm shops adhere to best practices
Provide handwashing stations, ideally one for every 15 to 20
workers
Create a cleaning checklist (door handles, light switches,
vehicles, totes, phones etc.)
Identify items where transfer is possible and establish contact
and cleaning procedures
Establish protocols for farm visitors
Change disinfectants every 6 to 12 months
Mix and use cleaners and sanitizers as directed
Make use of technology such as tap payment
Have pickers work on odd rows rst, then work back on even
rows for distancing
Create a traceability and recall plan
Visit webpages like BCCDC, AgSafe, Health Canada and BC
MInistry of Agriculture for complete information
On-farm practices for a pandemic
How virus-free potatoes get their start. PHOTO / ANNA HELMER
34 | JUNE 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
The situation on the
ground remains uncertain
(I still don’t quite understand
where sales are going to come
from) and uid (the latest
information gets old quickly).
To avoid fretting unduly, I
have found some talking
points of a more general
interest, touching on universal
experience, reecting
common struggles and
tapping deep wells of
empathy. Case in point: Here’s
one for all the middle-aged
ladies out there who are
required to handle 100 lb
sacks of seed potatoes every
spring.
Its all so awkward, even
under premium conditions,
which include: a pallet of
tightly sewn sacks
presented at waist
height, no witnesses,
mid-morning. I grasp one
in close embrace, lean
back slightly using knee
and hip as leverage, and
mutter obscenities. I
swing over in the direction of
the destination pallet (at
ground level), stagger along
with mincing and hurried
steps and nally allow the
inexorable force of gravity to
drag the sack down my body,
scratching unprotected skin,
ripping o buttons and
cracking ngernails. There is a
proper way to stack sacks of
potatoes. I don’t do it like that.
Another un-favourite
farming thing (the un-avowed
topic for today) – and it’s
amazing that both occur on
the same day sometimes – is
doing lab work on beautiful
spring days. (I’ll be honest. On
any day.) Its stuy in there,
stinks of bleach and alcohol,
eats up hours I’ll never get
back, and bears no
resemblance to any farm
dream ever. It must be done
every 25 days in the spring,
and it must be done exactly
right, with no deviation from
standard operating
procedures. There are lots of
witnesses if it’s done wrong
because the jars of plants,
stored in the communal grow
room, will have mold spots
and won’t grow properly and
no-one will be shy to point it
out because we all know it
must be perfect.
Some explanation is
perhaps required.
Potatoes, for all their robust
reputation, are exquisitely
vulnerable to various diseases
caused by virus infection, not
to mention scab, rot, mold,
fungus, diminishing vigour
and general ugliness. The trick
is to plant seed that is certied
virus-free and as generationally
close to the original virus-free
tissue culture as possible.
So, commercial growers
need annual infusions of
early-generation seed
potatoes. We produce that
here in Pemberton, and it
starts in our seed propagation
facility, aka The Lab.
The Lab is owned jointly by
all the seed potato growers in
Pemberton. Its where we
house, in tissue culture, all our
varieties and where we can
work in a sterile environment.
Potatoes feature the useful
and unique characteristic that
they will grow true clones of
themselves both from the
tubers and from stem
cuttings. This means that we
can multiply the number of
plants by cutting them into
little pieces and planting them
in agar and growing them for
a month under lights, before
cutting them up again. We
start with just a small handful
in January and end up with
thousands in June, which are
nally planted into the eld.
The harvest from these plants
becomes the rst generation
of virus-free seed potatoes.
Its a process that has taken
me 20 years to understand
and execute. Every so often, I
write about it and suspect I
succeed only in confusing
people further. Apologies if
this is again the case. I
originally meant to complain
about it and move on.
As with lots of things these
days, an armour of numb
indierence to the inevitable
challenges of the immediate
future would be helpful.
Anna Helmer is currently
battling a COVI-D-pression and
planting potatoes in the
Pemberton Valley.
Taking refuge in The Lab
Cloning potatoes may not be fun but it’s essential
Farm News
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4-H sales adapt
amid COVID-19
restrictions
Clubs explore online sales and
other options
It will be anything but business as usual for 4-H members this year as the COVID-19 pandemic has
effectively shut down their traditional stock sales at shows and fairs. FILE PHOTO / RONDA PAYNE
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC JUNE 2020 | 35
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Learn To Do By Doing
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to the 4-H Canada Leadership Development Pillars:
e 4-H
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topics, including dairy. e dairy project consists of
activities, including participation in a virtual dairy farm
tour, an exploration of the udder, and a milk product
nutritional comparison.
is project is available at no cost to both 4-H BC mem-
bers, as well as youth not currently enrolled in 4-H.
For more details and to register, visit: www.4hbc.ca/4-h-home
4-H @ HOME
4-H@H O M E P r o j e c t
by JACKIE PEARASE
ARMSTRONG – True to their
club motto, “Learn to Do by
Doing, 4-H club members
across BC are nding new
ways to market their animal
projects when traditional
means are unavailable.
Physical distancing rules in
place banning events of more
than 50 people and the
cancellation of most fall fairs
featuring 4-H auction sales
have pushed 4-H leaders to
think outside the box.
Organizers of the
Okanagan 4-H Stock Show in
Armstrong are going ahead
with the planned sale date of
July 11 but with an online
format.
Interior Provincial
Exhibition 4-H director Ted
Steiger says 4-H members will
create short descriptions of
their animals for an online
catalogue used for the week-
long auction from July 4-11.
“Its basically our only
option at this point, he notes.
“Until they relax the rules
somewhat … it’s our best
option.
Restrictions in place this fall
will dictate the format of the
4-H sale typically held at the
IPE.
As far as the IPE sale goes,
were still throwing some
ideas out on that one, Steiger
says. There will be some sort
of an auction for those kids.
The cancellation of the
Pacic National Exhibition has
Lower Mainland 4-H groups
considering the online route
as well.
Abbotsford 4-H key leader
Heather Schmidt says not
having the PNE to market
animals is a reminder that
creative thinking is a useful
skill for farmers.
The marketing is part of
agriculture so it may be an
opportunity for the kids to
have to be a bit more creative
in how they market their
project, Schmidt says. “In my
mind, the selling of the
project is the icing on the
cake. The cake is really the
whole year of the kids
working together and
learning how raise their
animals well. Marketing is a
part of that.
PNE agriculture manager
Christie Kerr is polling 4-H
clubs in early June to
determine if there is enough
interest and resources to
provide an online auction in
lieu of the auction at the fair.
“Its a whole new world for
us. We are working to see
what we can do to engage
4-H and support them in any
way we can, says Kerr. There
has never been a year that we
haven’t been here to support
4-H, in particular the auction.
She expects the auction to
have fewer hogs as some
swine clubs opted out of a
project this year.
Within our club, probably
only half of the members
were able to get hogs
because of the sharing of
property. A lot of pig clubs
members have their pigs at
one farm and with social
distancing, they’re just not
able to do that right now, she
explains.
Provincial Winter Fair
organizers in Kamloops are
making a nal decision on
their event on July 1.
Were denitely not going
ahead with a full-scale fair,
says 4-H and open beef
division representative Carole
Gillis. There is enthusiasm for
some kind of an event. But
there are also people who
have said, ‘No matter what, we
are not attending fairs this
year.
With a 50-acre site to work
with, organizers are hoping
that something can be
worked out with Interior
Health for an outdoor event.
Any kind of on-site event
would include safety
measures in line with health
guidelines, with the 4-H
auction streamed live for
telephone and electronic
bidding.
Alternatively, a digital event
will be oered with 4-H
webinars in July and digital
marketing for the sale in late
September.
“Either way, we will have an
auction of 4-H projects and
open projects for anybody
who wants to enter, Gillis
stresses. We think it’s really
important for kids not to lose
the year and to have that
connection to the fair.
South End key leader Heidi
Meier says the Williams Lake
and District 4-H Council is
currently monitoring the
situation. The council hopes
restrictions will be lifted in
time for its annual show and
sale at the Williams Lake
Stockyards on August 6-10.
“If the council is unable to
proceed in person, an
alternate sale format will be
presented, Meier adds. “It is
our greatest hope that the
community members will
continue to support their
local 4-H members by
purchasing members projects
in whatever form is rolled out.
Kamloops District 4-H key
leader Ron McGivern says it is
imperative that 4-H stock sales
continue despite present
circumstances.
This has been a
particularly challenging year
for our 4-H members, our
future leaders in agriculture,
he says. We cannot have the
challenges of this year stie
our members who really need
to experience the successes of
agriculture.
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Chemicals, pheromones and IPM
can provide control
Tracy Hueppelsheuser, left, and Bev Gerdeman helped growers attending the Pacic Agriculture Show
earlier this year understand how to control leafrollers in their berry crops. PHOTO / RONDA PAYNE
36 | JUNE 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
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ABBOTSFORD – Some crop
pests cause damage to plants
and berries, while others, like
the leafroller, also contaminate
the crop. Raspberries are
particularly susceptible and it
takes proper timing and
control methods to ensure
these pests don’t leave their
mark on berries ready for sale.
BC Ministry of Agriculture
entomologist Tracy
Hueppelsheuser notes
leafrollers have been an issue
in the Fraser Valley since the
1980s, but growers in the
Skagit Valley began noticing
concerning levels in their elds
beginning in 2017.
Bev Gerdeman,
entomologist with Washington
State University in Mount
Vernon, said by last summer,
many growers were unable to
control the moths and larvae.
“You have a host of these
[leafrollers] attacking red
raspberries” she says. They can
attack the buds, the blossoms
and then, in the later season,
they will attack the berries.
They can become harvest
contaminants.
There were noteworthy
issues in the 2019 Fraser Valley
raspberry season too, though
not as severe as those in
Mount Vernon, according to
provincial berry industry
specialist Carolyn Teasdale.
We don’t know how
widespread it’s going to be
this year, she says. The
ministry is going to fund some
trapping.
Abbotsford had hotspots in
2019 where growers found the
pest during harvest, Teasdale
says.
“But that’s the raspberry
capital, so that’s to be
expected, she notes. “Some
growers reported seeing more
than usual. We didn’t hear as
much [about leafrollers] in
blueberries.
Gerdeman says it’s
important to get a handle on
populations to ensure export
sales. South Korea is among
the countries that quarantines
fruit with leafrollers.
We should be concerned
and be wary about things that
could happen in the future
with exports, she says.
Chemical control can be
challenging and requires
specic timing. Some types of
leafrollers are already showing
resistance to newer controls.
“You have to target the
newly hatched larvae and
that’s why timing is important
and why trapping is
important, says Teasdale.
Time just after the eggs have
hatched.
The larvae are more
susceptible when they are
small.
There are a number of
products that can be used for
leafrollers. Some additionally
oer protection from Spotted
Wing Drosophila.
“Some of the new labels are
really relying on scouting to
determine application
[timing], says Hueppelsheuser.
Over a ve-year period,
shes seen a wide range of
timing for leafroller hatching.
She suggests installing sticky
monitoring traps by May 15 to
count moths and gauge spray
timing.
She suggests checking at
least 20 stops in a ve to
10-acre area. Stop and inspect
growing tips on three to ve
canes every six to 10 rows,
stopping every 40 steps within
the row. If two to four out of
20 have leafrollers, its time to
consider spraying.
Since one of the main tools,
Capture, is being phased out
this year, Hueppelsheuser
suggests DiPel, Intrepid, Exirel
(registered on blueberries),
Delegate, Entrust and Success.
Each works dierently and at
dierent times, so reading the
label is essential.
Rotation of control
chemicals is important, but
Gerdeman says there are other
options, too.
“Mating disruption is
another type of strategy, she
says. “Don’t expect that mating
disruption is going to be a
stand-alone approach … [it
should be] an additional
approach with IPM.
Pheromone sticky traps
attached with twist ties help to
confuse the males, limiting the
numbers mating. For success,
it requires more canopy cover
from the berries than young
elds can provide. The benet
is a one-time treatment that
lasts season-long as an
adjunct to other control
practices with no resistance.
“Its more eective in really
big acreages, Gerdeman says.
The recommended rate is 200
twist-ties to an acre.
The twist-tie pheromone
traps are available through
Hueppelsheuser. While the
traps are a “set-it-and-forget-it”
control installed at the start of
the season, they are labour-
intensive.
Another option to bring
pheromones into elds is an
electronic aerosol puer that
releases a pu every 15
minutes from dawn to dusk.
These are not yet registered
for use, but may oer another
single-season option.
We’ve got to do some due
diligence, says Gerdeman.
“One per acre, its a lot less
[work] than the twist-ties.
IPM practices also oer
several options.
There’s a lot of guys out
there in your eld helping you
out, says Hueppelsheuser.
Naturally occurring
lacewings, pirate bugs and
ground beetles can help. The
parasitoid Trichogramma
minutum can be purchased
and deployed for eective
control.
ES Cropconsult will
undertake ministry-funded
trapping and monitoring this
season. Teasdale says updates
will be reported in the
raspberry and blueberry IPM
newsletters the berry councils
send out this summer.
Leafrollers can be a potential crop contaminant
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Strawberries could benefit from
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Bert van Geffen of Star Produce Group, based in Saskatchewan and owner of BC Hot House, is trialing
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COUNTRY LIFE IN BC JUNE 2020 | 37
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ABBOTSFORD – What’s
good for the goose is good
for the gander, but is whats
good for the cucumber good
for the strawberry?
Richard Bélanger, a plant
science professor at Laval
University, thinks so. He
presented his case for using
silicon for powdery mildew
control in strawberries at the
Pacic Agriculture Show in
January.
“It is misunderstood, it is
controversial, it is contentious,
it is confusing, he says of the
studies and application of
silicon in crops.
However, in 2015, the
International Plant Nutrition
Institute ocially recognized
silicon as a benecial element
against biotic and abiotic
stress. It is used successfully in
cucumber and wheat for
reducing powdery mildew
and in soybeans to help
control the fungus
Phytophthora sojae.
“Silicon only works on
plants that can accumulate
silicon, he explains. This has
been one of the main points
of discussion.
This explains why silicon is
ineective, or minimally
benecial, in some crops –
they are unable to absorb the
element because they don’t
have the right amino acid
structure. The presence of the
structure lets scientists
predict which plants will
benet from silicon
applications.
Strawberries are one of
them, and Bélanger began
conducting trials with
strawberries in polytunnels.
We let powdery mildew
develop naturally. This was
not very hard, he says. The
plants that were receiving the
silicon looked a lot healthier.
There was a very signicant
reduction in powdery mildew
in all cultivars.
Additionally, yield and fruit
quality increased dramatically.
There was a 185% increase in
marketable fruit compared to
the control, which was
untreated.
Star potential
Silicons ability to control
powdery mildew in
strawberries appeals to Bert
van Geen, corporate head
grower for Saskatoon-based
Star Produce Group, which
owns BC Hot House Foods Inc.
and has been exploring the
potential of growing
strawberries in a greenhouse
environment.
They did trials of growers
in Europe, van Geen says.
When they used it, they
actually got white
strawberries, so they say,
don’t use it.
But he spoke to Bélanger,
who noted it isn’t just the
silicon that counts. Bélanger
believes that the European
growers had the incorrect pH.
Van Geen has been making
all the necessary adjustments
to pH, nutrients and silicon in
preparation for testing silicon
for mildew control in
strawberries in BC
greenhouses.
“If I do it, I want to be 100%
sure I’m doing it right, he
says. There’s a lot of
homework to do there. Its
going to be very complicated.
His trials began this spring.
While silicon will also give the
fruit a longer shelf life and
greater rmness, van Geen is
most interested in its ability to
control disease. IPM methods
aren’t displaced or harmed by
silicon so hes looking forward
to moving closer to an
organic strawberry.
Hes heartened by the
number of BC cucumber
growers using it who have
indicated it’s delivered good
results in their environments.
“In some crops, it doesn’t
work at all and some it works
a tiny little bit and some, like
cucumbers and strawberries,
it works fantastic, he says.
Bélanger says the best
source of silicon for plants is
potassium silicate in a
constant supply for maximum
absorption by the roots.
However, he cautions
growers to limit the
concentration of the
water/nutrient solution to no
more than 1.7 millimolar. To
do this, he recommends
adding the potassium silicate
to water rst, then adjusting
the pH level before adding
other nutrients.
“Don’t apply more; youre
just wasting your money, he
says.
Additionally, silicon works
on other diseases that have a
biotrophic stage, meaning
that the pathogen feeds o
the plant’s living cells to
weaken it or reduce yields.
Other such pathogens
include verticillium,
anthracnose and
phytophthora.
Silicon control
of fungal issues
trialed
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38 | JUNE 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
Not all farmers’ markets are thriving
Langley is on hiatus, while others
also try to regroup
BC Association of Farmers’ Markets executive director Heather O'Hara, left, with Melanie MacInnes of
MacInnes Farms, commended the Langley market for taking a breather to regroup. PHOTO / RONDA PAYNE
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COUNTRY LIFE IN BC JUNE 2020 | 39
by RONDA PAYNE
LANGLEY – Poor nances
are casting doubt on the
future of the Langley
Community Farmers Market.
We just don’t have the
business case for running the
market, but that doesn’t mean
it’s the end, saiys Paige
Dampier, who stepped down
as chair of the Langley
Community Farmers Market
Society at its annual meeting
in March. The society is
active, it still exists, so it’s up
to us to decide what to do
going forward.
Board members Ava Reeve
and Marlyn Graziano also did
not renew their terms. The
membership in attendance
approved running the
organization with the ve
remaining board members.
Society treasurer Terry Luck
noted that a net loss of
$15,000 in 2019 left the
organization with just over
$1,600 in net assets. The loss
is attributed to vendor
numbers dropping from
about 40 to 20 a week, along
with associated stall fees.
Luck says the society
incurred the loss through the
2019 season because it would
have been a disservice to
vendors and shoppers to
cease operations mid-year.
There have been shifts to
the format and timing of the
Wednesday market, which
began in 2008. The physical
setup changed in 2015 in
response to the re marshal’s
requirements. In 2018, for the
10th anniversary, the board
tried a Saturday market which
was unsuccessful because
vendors were already
committed to other markets
on Saturdays.
Dampier noted ongoing
issues have included frequent
turnover in the market
manager and coordinator,
challenges in meeting the BC
Association of Farmers’
Markets requirement that
51% of vendors be farmers
and food, and growing
competition from big-box
stores and retailers using
similar language around local
food.
Langley isn’t the only
market in the province facing
challenges.
Changes in leadership at
the Rossland Mountain
Market have been
challenging, market manager
Miche Warwick said during a
discussion of vendor
recruitment at the BC
Association of Farmers
Markets conference. The
market in the community of
3,500 has lost its vision and
values, not to mention
vendors, as a result.
White Rock Farmers Market
has weathered a few hard
years due to construction
blocking access points and
permanently reducing the
area available for vendors.
Dave Kyle of Abbotsford
Garlic has attended the
market for seven years and
noted that both visitor and
vendors were down a couple
of years ago, but bounced
back last year.
There are dozens of
[vendor] spots that are
permanently gone, he says.
“But last year was our busiest
year … and the weather was
crap. Two years ago, they
were down for sure, but last
year, the people came back
again.
He notes there have been
issues with how the board
may have seen the market’s
future, but there is a solid
market manager in place who
vendors support.
He also sees the
Abbotsford Farm & Country
Market facing a struggle due
to its location in Jubilee Park
in an area with a large
homeless population.
BCAFM executive director
Heather O’Hara was on-hand
at the Langley markets AGM
and noted that the Langley
market isn’t alone among
BCAFM members in facing
these challenges.
“You should be
commended to have the
time to buy
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courage to go on hiatus, she
says. “Its a very dicult thing
to do and it’s unpopular, but
it’s the perfect thing to do to
regroup.
—With les from Peter Mitham
Desperate times call for chivalrous measures
40 | JUNE 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
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When we left o last time,
Birdie and Bernie had headed
home, urging Deborah to move
into their room at the resort to
give her some much-needed
space from Kenneth. Back at
home, the barn repairs were
complete and everyone was
enjoying a celebratory dinner
and speculating what might
happen next in wake of the
virus that would likely have
Kenneth and Deborah in
isolation together on their
return home. Rural
Redemption, Part 123,
continues ...
Deborah said her
goodbyes to Birdie and
Bernie and promised to take
Birdies advice: “Honey, just
take some time for yourself
and let that man stew in his
own juices for a few days.
She avoided the places
where Kenneth was likely to
be and spent hours walking
the beaches. In the solitude,
she reected on the nature
and health of her marriage
and pondered its future.
Kenneth texted her on the
third day.
Are you ready to come
back?”
“NO.
He texted again the
following day.
“Please come back. I need
to tell you something
important.
Text me if its important.
“I’m sorry. Please meet me
for lunch.
Kenneth was waiting when
Deborah arrived at the
restaurant an hour later. He
rocked back in his chair as the
waiter seated her.
“Have you come to your
senses yet?” he asked.
“I wouldn’t be here if I had.
I came because I’m curious
about what you’re sorry for.
Whats that
supposed to mean?”
demanded Kenneth.
“In your text you
said you were sorry.
Why? You’re not
usually sorry about
anything.
Kenneth stiened;
apologies weren’t in his
nature.
“Oh, trust me, Deborah. I’m
sorry about more things than
youd care to hear about but
right now I’m just sorry to tell
you that our ight’s been
cancelled because of the virus
outbreak. I’ve booked new
tickets to Toronto, then
connecting to Vancouver, but
we’ll be stuck here for
another ve days. The hotel’s
letting us stay the extra days
for free. You might as well
gather up your things and
come back to our room.
“No need for that, Kenneth.
Five more days will be hard
enough for you as it is. The
front desk called this morning
and said I was welcome to
stay where I am until theres a
ight home. I think I’ll just
stay put. It will be easier for
you to make golf plans if you
don’t have to worry about
me.
Deborah said that she
wasn’t very hungry and
excused herself.
Kenneth watched her go
then pulled out his cell
phone. He scrolled through
the contacts until he came to
Janice Newberry. He began
convincing himself the ve-
day delay was a good enough
excuse to call her.
vvv
Susans phone rang just as
she and Ashley were nishing
the breakfast dishes. It was
Deborah. She explained that
their original ight had been
changed because of all the
uproar over the virus and
they wouldn’t be home for
another six days. Susan said
spring break was being
extended for a week and
there was even some talk
about school not going back
in at all, but Susan shouldn’t
worry because she would stay
with the kids until they were
back.
Deborah said she didn’t
know what was going to
happen because it looked like
she and Kenneth might have
to be in isolation for two
weeks and she wasn’t quite
sure how they would do that.
Susan said she was sure
Kenneth would gure
something out, then told her
how Newt, and Christopher,
and Clay Garrison, and Tyler
Koski, and Doug McLeod, and
Harb Singh had rescued the
tractor and xed the barn
roof, and what a nice young
man Clay was, and wasn’t
Doug McLeod the one who
was Li’l Abner in the musical?
Deborah said yes, it was,
and Susan said she loved his
sense of humour.
Deborah said she hoped
the kids were behaving
themselves. Susan said they
were as good-as-gold and
passed the phone to Ashley.
“Hi, Mom. Guess what?
There might not be any more
school until fall! I can’t wait
for you to get home and tell
you all the news. Grandma’s
breaking hearts left and
right!”
Ashley, shush!” said Susan
as she took her phone back.
Susan said Ashley was a
terrible tease and Christopher
would be sorry he missed her
call but he was working on
his 4-H calf at Newt Pullmans
place and she would tell him
all the news when he came
home for lunch.
Christopher arrived a little
after noon. Newt had been
asked to come with him.
Susan told them about
Deborahs call and all the
changed travel plans. After
lunch, Susan and Newt were
alone at the table.
Well, Newt, it looks like
that isolation wasn’t just a
rumour. I’ve been thinking
maybe I’ll rent one of those
beachfront suites at the hotel
in town and take the kids
there for a couple of weeks.
The way I hear it, there’s a
good chance the hotels and
motels won’t be staying open.
Youd probably all be better
o closer to home, said Newt.
Where could we stay
that’s any closer than that? I
might have to take them back
to the city with me.
Theyre saying they want
everyone to stay home.
Theres not much point in
uprooting them and dragging
all over hells-half-acre.
Well, I’m certain they
wouldn’t want us to be
quarantined here with
Deborah and Kenneth, said
Susan.
“I don’t expect they would.
If you can’t stay here, and you
don’t want to go far, where’s
the next best place?”
Susan gave Newt a side-
long glance.
Are you suggesting what I
think you are?”
Can’t say. I have no idea
what you’re thinking. What
I’m saying is Rocky and I are
living all by our lonesome in a
house with six bedrooms and
three bathrooms. Its as close
as you can get to here
without staying put. And the
Woodshed
Chronicles
by BOB COLLINS
three of you are more than
welcome to stay until all of
this blows over.
Are you sure that would
be wise?” asked Susan.
Are you suggesting what I
think you are?”
“I can’t say, said Susan
smiling. “I have no idea what
you’re thinking. Aren’t you
afraid people will talk?”
Well, at this stage of the
game, there aren’t very many
things I’m afraid of. Gossip
surely isn’t one of them, said
Newt.
What about your honour
and reputation?”
As long as youre upstairs
and I’m downstairs and
Ashley’s somewhere between,
I gure my honour’s probably
safe enough. And the
presence of a lady in the
house might do my
reputation some good.
Susan broke out laughing.
Are you serious about this?”
“You bet. You’re welcome
to come and give the house a
once-over before you say one
way or the other.
vvv
The next morning at the
store, Susan told Lois all
about Deborah and Kenneth
being delayed and having to
be in isolation for two weeks
once they were back. And she
told her about Newt’s oer of
a place she and the kids
could stay. Lois asked if she
was going to take him up on
it.
“I think so, maybe. Do you
think it would be okay?”
Absolutely, said Lois.
They don’t come any better
than Newt Pullman.
“He is a nice man, and the
kids think the world of him
and it’s a very generous oer.
I probably will say yes.
Over at the coee club
table, Old Jimmy Vincent was
taking in the whole
conversation.
Susan left and bumped
into Junkyard Frank coming
up the store steps.
“Mornin, Mrs. Henderson.
“Yes, it is a good morning
isn’t it?” said Susan without
stopping.
Frank stood at the door
and watched her go, then
stepped inside.
“You’re wasting your time
moonin away after that one
Frank, said Jimmy.
What in hell are you on
about, Jimmy. I’m not out of
the running yet. Slow but
steady wins the race.
“Not as slow as you been
going, I guess.
“If you’ve got something to
say spit it out!” demanded
Frank.
A little grin wrinkled
Jimmy’s cheek.
“S’pose you haven’t heard
the news then. Your lady
friend there is planning on
shacking up with Newt
Pullman.
... to be continued
Jessica Miedema prepares bouquets for Mother’s Day at her home-based business located on the family dairy farm. PHOTO / JACKIE PEARASE
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC JUNE 2020 | 41
Fresh cut
flowers part of
diversification
plan at Enderby
dairy
Bill Everitt 250.295.7911 ext #102
beveritt@xplornet.ca
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Princeton Wood Preservers Ltd. 1821 Hwy 3 Princeton, B.C. V0X 1W0
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by JACKIE PEARASE
ENDERBY – Boredom, a
desire to diversify and a
green thumb add up to a cut
ower business for Jessica
Miedema at Bomi Farms in
the North Okanagan.
“I used to have a corporate
job and then we started
having kids so I left, but I was
getting a little bored, says
Miedema. When I was
pregnant with our third, I
decided to start a cut ower
farm. Its now in its third year
and it’s gone really well.
Miedema is not very
involved with the family dairy
– she does the books and
makes decisions with her
husband Rene – but she is an
important part of their eorts
to diversify the farm.
She used past experience
as a orist, a knack for
growing and a love of
business to create Little Flora
Gems.
“Its fun because its a lot of
planning. I have a Masters in
business so I really like the
planning and spreadsheets
and all that stu. Its a lot of
succession planning. Its a big
puzzle and I like that, she
says.
Miedema started with a
quarter acre and now has an
acre in annuals, perennials,
owering fruit trees and
shrubs. The ower garden
features a huge selection of
tubers, bulbs and corms,
including anemones, dahlias,
ranunculus and tulips.
The area surrounding the
farm provides an ample
selection of plants suitable
for Miedemas creative
bouquets.
She wraps her owers in
kraft paper with twine and
paper labels in keeping with
her eco-friendly approach.
She uses the ample free
manure from the dairy for
fertilizer and composts
discarded plants. Weed
control includes landscape
fabric, ame-weeding and
hard work.
Miedema oers seasonal
and full season ower
subscriptions, custom
arrangements, wholesale and
DIY buckets. She sold out on
Mothers Day and some of the
subscriptions are already full.
“Its been really good,
actually; its surprisingly
exceeded expectations, she
says.
A re-purposed cow barn
serves as her cooler, seed
propagation area and
workspace. A 1,700-square-
foot hoophouse provides
extra growing room.
Sales have been
concentrated at local farmers’
markets and through word-
of-mouth to date but a new
website hosted through
Shopify has helped extend
her reach and provided
options for customers during
the coronavirus pandemic.
A ower design course at
the Paris Flower School
Catherine Muller last year
enhanced her skills and
creativity.
A new market garden
added in 2019 allowed
Miedema to start a CSA box
program this season and
interest is already growing.
The acre in vegetable
production includes lots of
traditional crops plus some
unique ones like okra and
Asian greens.
Miedema says the CSA
boxes may expand to include
more items in the future.
We’ve added more
chickens and I have more
laying hens coming and we
have ducks and duck eggs,
she notes. We’re really going
full tilt ahead with it.
Flower
power
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42 | JUNE 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
Home
cookin’
This is spicy, sweet and sour, and full of avour. It would accompany not only curry dishes, but also
meats of all sorts, or a Ploughmans Lunch of sharp cheddar, bread and pickles. I used mangoes, but
nectarines, peaches, apricots, pears or apples would all be good instead.
1/3 c. (75 ml) minced fresh ginger 2 garlic cloves
1 onion, nely chopped 6 c. (1.5 l) chopped mango
2 c. (500 ml) brown sugar 1 c. (250 ml) apple cider vinegar
1/2 c. (125 ml) golden raisins 2 tsp. (10 ml) black mustard seeds
1 tsp. (5 ml) red chili akes
Prepare sealing jars, lids and rings and dig out the canner.
Mince ginger and garlic and nely chop onions. Peel mangoes and remove the meat from both
sides of the at pit, then chop into half-inch dice. There’s no need to peel apricots, pears or
apples, but I would peel peaches or nectarines.
In a large pot, bring the vinegar and sugar to a boil and add all the remaining ingredients.
Once it has returned to bubbling, reduce the heat and let it simmer for 40 minutes or so, until
it’s thick and none of the produce is still crunchy. Tender fruits like apricots, pears, peaches or
nectarines probably should not be cooked that long. I would suggest half the time.
Ladle into hot canning jars, seal and process for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath.
Makes about six eight-ounce jars.
Seems to me Dads like beef and cheese and potatoes. Spinach is good for them. They’ll love this
special-occasion meatloaf.
1 large onion 1 stalk celery
5 mushrooms drizzle of oil
1 lb. (454 g) lean ground beef 1 egg
1 large garlic clove 1/4 c. (60 ml) oat bran or crumbs
1 tbsp. (15 ml) Worcestershire sauce 2 tsp. (10 ml) Sriracha sauce
salt and pepper, to taste 6 oz. (170 g) frozen spinach, thawed, or fresh
1/2 c. (125 ml) Swiss cheese, grated
Topping:
2 potatoes 1/4 c. (60 ml) Swiss cheese
Chop onion, celery and mushrooms and saute over medium heat in a drizzle of oil, until
softened. Remove from heat and cool.
In a mixing bowl, combine beef with a beaten egg, minced garlic
, oat bran or bread crumbs,
Worcestershire and Sriracha sauces, salt and pepper and mix well. Add cooled onion mixture
and combine.
Pat about half the mixture into a loaf pan. Arrange thawed spinach (or fresh, which has been
steamed briey until limp) and grated Swiss cheese in the centre of the meat mixture, leaving a
one-inch border all around. Pat remaining meat mixture on top, pressing around the sides to
seal the cheese and spinach inside.
Bake at 350° F for about 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, microwave the whole potatoes, which have been pierced with a fork, for just a few
minutes, or until softened and partly cooked.
Slice potatoes and grate Swiss cheese.
Remove meatloaf from oven and top with potato slices and grated Swiss Cheese.
Cook for a further 15 minutes.
FRUIT CHUTNEY
Dads love meat and potatoes. PHOTO / JUDIE STEEVES
DAD’S DAY MEATLOAF
turmeric, salmon and berries
are the new superfoods, but
spinach is still stued full of
good-for-you nutrients and it
tastes pretty good too, I
think.
At this time of year, not
only are there lots of fresh,
young vegetables and herbs
available from local
producers all over the
province, but we’re coming to
the season when fresh fruits
such as strawberries,
raspberries and cherries
come into season, followed
by peaches, nectarines,
apricots, blueberries, apples
and pears.
With that in mind, consider
drying, freezing, canning or
preserving some of those
fresh, local beauties, perhaps
in a new way like a chutney,
with lovely mellow avours
and hints of spice from
ginger and chillies.
Earlier in the year, when
Mexican mangoes were on
sale in the stores, I tried out a
new recipe for fruit chutney,
and it’s pretty darn good, not
only with curries, but also
with barbecued meats or
avourful cheeses and
crackers. Or, with a slice of
home made sourdough
bread! That’s another
experiment I’m working on,
which I may report on in a
future column.
In the meantime, celebrate
Fathers Day with your
favourite Pops by making him
a satisfying meal that will
help keep him healthy as well
as happy.
You could also celebrate
the ocial arrival of summer
the day before, June 20, and
enjoy the longest day of the
year – if you can stay up that
long.
Add flavour to
home-style
cooking with
fresh herbs and
salad greens
I planted spinach on my
kitchen windowsill in late
March. I planted another row
of it in the vegetable garden
when it thawed in April, and I
planted out the seedlings I’d
started indoors a week or so
later.
At that point, the Oriental
salad greens were already up,
making their row look nice
and green in the veg garden.
We’re eating far more often
at home, so new ideas for all
three meals of the day are
particularly welcome.
We eat some sort of salad
at least once a day, and in
order to limit our excursions
to the retail stores, we want
to grow what we can of our
own produce. It seems its
nearly impossible to keep
some of it long enough to
shop less often than once a
week, between eating it up
and nding a soggy mess
where crisp peppers or
zucchini were.
I’ve found that you don’t
need to do anything fancy to
spinach to freeze it. Just stu
clean leaves into freezer bags
and make room for them in
the freezer. Now, the result
isn’t much good in salads, but
it’s perfect for cooking into
meatloaves, rice dishes,
sauces or meatballs. You don’t
even need to thaw or chop it.
I just squeeze the bag while
it’s still sti and the frozen
spinach breaks into shards of
green leaves – even better
than chopped, fresh spinach
–and with less eort.
Instead of cooking fancy
meals and inviting friends
and family over to join the
celebration, we’ve been
eating comfort food and
celebrating quietly. We eat
what we can nd between
the gaps and empty shelves
in the grocery store, instead
of planning ahead and
buying what’s on the list.
Its a new world out there,
and we have to adapt to it –
for the moment anyway.
I know that kale and
Jude’s Kitchen
JUDIE STEEVES
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC JUNE 2020 | 43
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