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Vol. 106 No. 10
The agricultural news source in British Columbia since 1915 OCTOBER 2020 | Vol. 106 No. 10
FRUIT
BC Tree Fruits prepares to sell assets, apples 7
BEEF
Meat producers frustrated by consultations 11
LABOUR
Province tightens rules for employers
17
by PETER MITHAM
DAWSON CREEK – Sales of
BC farm properties fell 11% in
the rst six months of 2020
versus a year earlier, according
to provincial property transfer
data.
A total of 632 properties
changed hands, with the
Peace region being the most
active. Northeastern BC saw
116 properties sell during the
rst half of the year, or 18% of
the provincial total for the
period.
The Fraser Valley and Metro
Vancouver were the second
and third most active regions,
with 77 and 70 deals,
respectively.
Deals in the Peace region
were driven both by locals
and to a lesser degree buyers
from Alberta for whom the
property oered good value
compared to tracts of similar
size in their home province.
They come up here and
get a bit more land for a lot
less money, says Blaine
Nicholson, managing broker
and owner of Re/Max Dawson
Creek.
Two land auctions by
Ritchie Bros. have also
attracted interest in the
region, he adds.
With more than 40 years’
experience in the region,
however, he said activity has
seemed stable While
provincial data indicates a
13% increase in transactions
over last year, Nicholson says
it’s felt like a normal year.
Similarly, Alan Johnson, a
vice-president with Colliers
International in Vancouver,
says demand in the Lower
Mainland seems moderate.
Sales in the rst half of this
Corne, left, and Paul Moerman of Sunnyside Produce Ltd. grew up in the greenhouse operation their fathers own in Delta and Surrey. As the family’s
succession plan kicks in, the cousins are taking on more responsibility for day-to-day operations. Myrna Stark Leader spoke to them about what
they’ve brought to the business and their expansion plans in her story starting on page 27. PHOTO / RONDA PAYNE
Peace leads farmland sales
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BC Beef
set to
launch
Project aims to
boost returns to
cattle producers
by TOM WALKER
WESTWOLD – A made-in-
BC beef brand is nally within
sight after ve years of work
on the part of ranchers.
We will be signing a lease
for October 1 with the KML
federal processing plant just
west of Falkland, and at that
point we will have control of
the plant to go in and start
processing, says Kevin Boon,
general manager of the BC
Cattlemens Association.
Boon is a key member of
the industry steering
committee that has been
working on the project, which
aims to put more cash in the
pockets of BC producers by
processing and selling beef
See MEAT on next page
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All in the family
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locally.
But the project also
promised to cost a lot of cash.
Building a plant from scratch
was pegged up to $8 million,
and extensive operating
funds would have been
required for the rst several
years before it ever turned a
prot.
Studies indicated that a
new plant would also require
about 500 animals a week to
be viable. While there are a
number of backgrounding
operations in the province, a
full-scale nishing industry
capable of supplying that
number of animals would also
need to be developed, not to
mention a supply chain to
feed those cattle. Workers
would need to be hired and
trained and an extensive
marketing program would be
required to move the end
product.
The steering committee
determined that leasing an
existing plant, starting small
and sourcing animals at hand
was the preferred way to
begin building a BC Beef
brand. It also allows everyone
in the cattle sector – dairy
operators as well as ranchers
– to contribute to its
development.
We will be sourcing cull
cows and processing them
into hamburger, he says.
That will allow everyone in
the industry to participate.
While BC Cattlemens has
facilitated the development
of the program, it was never
the intention that the
association would own the
plant.
A new company has been
formed called the BC Beef
Producers, Boon explains.
This will be a producer-
owned corporation and they
will give direction to the chief
operating ocer who will
develop the expertise for the
operation.
Mark Ishoy, a retired plant
manager who served as
president of Eastern Meat
Solutions Inc. in Ontario, will
manage the plant.
“[He] will help us get
rolling, says Boon. “He is very
interested and very
supportive of the concept we
are doing because it is so new
and unique. His experience
will be a huge asset.
The corporation will be run
under the BC Securities Act
and have a new and unique
structure, Boon explains. Each
share purchased in the
corporation will come with
the requirement to deliver
one animal a year and if the
shareholder does not deliver
the animal, they could have
their share revoked. Producers
will be paid market price
based on both quality and
delivery season, as the plant
will need animals year-round.
Shares will entitle the
producer to a portion of any
prots from the corporation
in the form of a dividend.
The lack of a consistent
supply of animals is a
common source of failure of
producer-owned meat
processing co-ops, Boon says,
and the structure of BC Beef
Producers aims to overcome
that.
“If you think you are going
to get a better price
somewhere else and you
jump there you will lose your
hooks, he says. “Because a lot
of plant failures are caused by
not being able to get supply.
Interest from producers has
been strong, Boon says, and
the steering committee is
keen to get the details of
share ownership out to
ranchers.
KML will retain the right to
process and market a
percentage of cattle under its
own brand.
“KML has been really good
to work with, says Boon.
They will be able to process
and market their own cattle
so it is a win-win for all.
The rural location of the
plant, approximately half-way
between Vernon and
Kamloops, could be a bonus
for hiring workers, adds Boon.
“COVID … has made
workers look for work outside
of the main centres, so there
is an attraction in that, he
says.
Boon is happy to see it all
come together.
“I’m very excited about the
prospects of it for BC
producers, he says. “I think
this is a huge opportunity for
them. We will never get a
better chance at a more
reasonable buy-in than we are
getting right now.
2 | OCTOBER 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
year totalled 147 versus 143 a
year ago.
There was a urry of
activity when some of the
blueberry growers had
diculty and had to dispose
of their assets, he said.
“Perhaps that satised some
of the demand for a few years.
… But there seems to have
been fewer sales than would
be typical for the last couple
of years.
This is consistent with an
assessment by Farm Credit
Canada.
The market in BC, as in
other provinces, has remained
relatively stable, says Sandra
Behm, a senior appraiser with
FCC in Abbotsford.
The province doesn’t
disclose the aggregate value
of property transactions.
According to Farm Credit
Canada, however, the value of
farmland in BC increased by
an average of 3% during the
rst half of 2020. This
compares with a 2.7%
increase during the rst half of
2019.
There are some specic
areas where the market has
been more active than others
due to a strong demand for
particular types of properties,
says Behm. This would be the
main driver of any increase in
value observed in the
province.
While price appreciation
accelerated in BC this year, the
province lagged the national
increase of 3.7%. BC ranked
behind New Brunswick,
Alberta and Saskatchewan in
terms of value gains.
Many brokers have
reported growing interest
from urban buyers this year in
rural properties. An acreage is
seen by some as a way to
social distance naturally. With
social restrictions becoming
entrenched in cities, many
people see the country as a
way to isolate without giving
up their freedom.
However, provincial
property transfer data shows
that transaction activity
cooled following the onset of
the COVID-19 pandemic in
March. Sales picked up again
in July, contributing to the
rebound in real estate activity
seen during the late summer.
The province logged 156
deals for the month, led by
sales in the Cariboo, Fraser
Valley and Thompson-Nicola
regions.
The return of interest rates
to historical lows this year
could help sustain the real
estate market into next year.
Among the most recent
listings is the O’Keefe
rangelands in Vernon, a 2,310-
acre oering historically used
for summer grazing. Much of
it sits outside the Agricultural
Land Reserve. The asking price
is $28.8 million.
Unlike the recovery in 2009,
however, speculative
purchases will face greater
scrutiny.
BC plans to launch Canadas
rst Landowner Transparency
Registry this fall.
The registry will disclose
the benecial owners of
properties held by trusts,
partnerships and
corporations. The province
also encourages anyone who
has just purchased or
inherited land in BC, or is
acting as executor on an
estate that has a legal interest
in land in BC to seek legal
advice regarding their
reporting obligations.
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Second residences
allowed in ALR
until July 2021
Uncertainties surround fate of
second homes
by PETER MITHAM
VICTORIA – The province
will allow landowners in the
Agricultural Land Reserve to
place a second, manufactured
home for immediate family on
their properties through July
31, 2021 pending the
development of new
residential use policies.
The province announced
the extension on September 4
with the release of a report
summarizing feedback on an
intentions paper regarding
residential uses in the ALR
published at the end of
January.
To allow time for the
development of new
regulations, the
grandfathering period for
manufactured homes in the
ALR is being extended to
July 31, 2021, the province
announced. “Landowners in
the ALR will have until then to
obtain the required permits
and authorizations to place a
manufactured additional
residence for immediate
family on their property,
without having to apply to
the Agricultural Land
Commission.
This is the second
extension of the provision,
originally introduced in July
2019 to address landowners
concerns regarding new
regulations giving force and
eect to Bill 52. That bill, the
rst of two pieces of
legislation passed in response
to the provinces ALR
revitalization committee
appointed in 2018, outlawed
second homes – even
temporary dwellings – on
parcels within the ALR.
Originally set to expire
February 22, it was extended
until December 31 with the
release of the intentions
paper.
But the extension is cold
comfort to Raquel Kolof,
president of the Sunshine
Coast Farmers Institute and
owner of Hough Heritage
Farm, which raises livestock
on 10 acres in Gibsons. The
property had an existing 450-
square-foot cabin about half
the size of the main residence
when she purchased it. She
upgraded the cabin, which
generates some income as a
guest house via AirBnB, but
when Bill 52 was introduced
she says it was no longer a
conforming use.
“I’m not at all feeling
assured, she said of the
extension. “When that
changes, I could be in non-
compliance again.
Built after the property was
subdivided in the 1990s, well
before Kolof purchased it,
current rules mean the cabin
can’t be rebuilt if destroyed.
This renders it uninsurable
and means it can’t be used to
secure nancing Kolof might
need for business expansion.
When I went to get my
land assessed, the assessor
could not count my dwelling
towards the value of my land
and my property, she says.
The value of my property
went down $100,000 /
$200,000 because the second
home could not be [counted].
… So if I wanted to take out a
mortgage to improve the
farm, my value is severely
diminished.
Good intent
The provinces intentions
paper signalled that it was
open to accommodating
cabins like the one Kolof has
on her property. Options the
province put forward for
discussion included allowing
more than just immediate
family to use the residence,
and even allowing permanent
structures: garden suites,
guest houses, carriage suites
or units above an existing
building were on the table. It
gave the option of letting
owners use them for farm
workers or guests as part of
an agri-tourism venture.
The total residential
oorspace allowed for family
members would continue to
be limited to 5,382 square feet
(500 square metres). The
Agricultural Land Commission
would also remain the
decision maker for additional
residences for farm use in the
ALR.
Any new permitted
secondary residences should
be registered with the ALC for
long-term land-use planning
purposes, the proposal
stated.
Now that the feedback is in,
the province says it will draft
regulations. While it said what
it heard, it didn’t tip its hand
as to what the outcome will
be.
However, the summary
report says respondents want
whatever the province
decides to be clear, straight-
forward and to respect
farmland. Of 153
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC OCTOBER 2020 | 3
Ready for the season
These pumpkins in Kelowna's Glenmore area were looking picture-perfect against blue skies before thick
smoke from US wildres lled the Okanagan Valley for several days last month.
PHOTO / MYRNA STARK LEADER
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municipalities that have land
in the ALR, 29 participated in
the consultation. The single
First Nations government
invited did not participate. An
additional 257 submissions
were received from
individuals and associations
through June 22. (The formal
consultation ended May 17.)
The feedback from
individual property owners
emphasized the need for
exibility in terms of housing
and rental options. While
many local governments
supported this direction,
many also noted that they
would be the ones dealing
with applications on the
ground.
To this end, the key
demand from municipalities
was that the provinces desire
to be more exible not
increase the administrative
burden on municipalities.
Kolof, for her part, wants to
see the province move swiftly
to give landowners like her
certainty.
“I’ve worked hard for this,
and I take pride in it, and
don’t want it to be devalued
by my government. I need it
to farm. … I just require that
second dwelling to make it
work, and I don’t understand
why that’s an issue.
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Opinions expressed in signed articles are those of the writer and not
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Letters are welcome, though they may be edited in the interest of brevity
before publication.
All errors brought to our attention will be corrected.
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The agricultural news source in British Columbia since 1915
Vol.106 No. 10 . OCTOBER 2020
Published monthly by Country Life 2000 Ltd.
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Publisher Cathy Glover
604-328-3814 . publisher@countrylifeinbc.com
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Boo! PW!
Turkey run
Just as this issue was heading to press, BC Premier John Horgan visited
Government House to ask the lieutenant governor to dissolve the legislature. His
wish was her command, and the farmers, ranchers, rural landowners and
consumers in this province have a chance to cast their votes on three years that
delivered a change of pace from 16 years of the BC Liberals.
A good question around Thanksgiving tables groaning under the weight of a
BC-grown turkey or ham might well be, What are you thankful for?”
Some may say fast action by industry and government that maintained the
ow of foreign workers into the province and a low rate of sickness among farm
workers despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Others may say changes to the
AgriStability program that provided better coverage to producers hit hard by
this years wild weather events in the Peace and Okanagan. Several people, on all
sides of the table, will be grateful for the return of BuyBC, one of the rst
initiatives undertaken by agriculture minister Lana Popham.
But what about those keen on farmland protection? While the move in early
2018 to investigate ways to revitalize the Agricultural Land Commission and the
lands it oversees was applauded by many, the outcome sparked a tremendous
backlash when the province outlawed second homes and deemed landowners
no longer “persons” for the purposes of exclusion applications. Those non-
persons will cast votes on October 24, likely for the BC Liberals, who have
promised to repeal the BC NDP’s changes. A new government will also sign o
on appointments to the Agricultural Land Commission, given that terms of 11
appointees expire between October 19 and 27.
BC livestock producers will also have food for thought. Yet another intentions
paper on the future of the meat industry in BC has been released, with the
deadline for comments set for October 18. Others have questions about the
future of Crown tenures given the BC NDP’s implementation of the United
Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the implications of
which have yet to be fully understood.
In the plus-30° heat of a late summer afternoon, I
took refuge at my desk where I could watch the
cows sleeping in the shade and the pumpkins
ripening
in the
sun, and
muse
about
how
much has
changed
in the 40 years we have been here. To lend this
endeavour a veneer of industry, I was sifting
through 40 years of bills, receipts, property
assessments, equipment brochures, auction yers,
and who knows what all when a Readers Digest
from September 1979 appeared. September 1979
was the very time we were negotiating the
purchase of this farm. It must have come with us
and I glanced at the front cover story index to see
what the lead article was all those years ago: The
Blight That is Sapping Canadian Agriculture by
Gordon A. MacEachern.
Mr. MacEachern is identied as a past president
of the Agricultural Economics Research Council of
Canada, a non-prot research institute nanced by
farm organizations, industry and government since
1968. Some readers will remember Mr. MacEachern
for his ve-year tenure as BC’s deputy minister of
agriculture from 1983 to 1988 during which he
locked horns with the BC Institute of Agrologists
and fudged his expense claims. He was red in 1988
after an RCMP investigation. Mr. MacEachern moved
on to become the deputy minister of agriculture in
PEI and was red again in similar circumstances in
1994.
In his Readers Digest piece, he begins by
lamenting that our once-famed nation of farmers
toiling to feed a hungry world had lost the ability to
feed itself. He illustrates his point with several
examples. We import the equivalent of half our food
– 75% of our fruit, 35% of our vegetables; we import
eggs and poultry “and imports could meet all our
poultry needs more cheaply if government controls
did not prevent this. To underscore these dire
straits, the author claims the subsidized dairy
industry gets a third of its net income from the
taxpayer.
While allowing that agriculture accounted for
40% of gross national product in 1979, Mr.
MacEachern unveiled the ills responsible for the
blight sapping Canadian agriculture.
Virtually all of the problems were rooted in
Canadas mad rush into urban industrial
development after World War II.
“But our biggest problems, he writes, “stem from
the fallacious notion that ailing farm incomes must
be propped up with government subsidies and
price-support programs which leads, inevitably, to
“Marketing boards are a classic example of a good
idea gone wrong.
Ultimately, Mr. MacEachern exposes the real
villainy at the heart of agricultures sorry state.
“Policies gone wrong, along with societys
changing attitudes toward work, have made many
of our farmers complacent and inecient. They are
behaving as they perceive urban Canadians to
behave: demanding more, doing less. Why break
your back in the elds, they reason, if you can get
by with less eort and government assistance?”
Despite this low opinion, Mr. MacEachern goes
on to explain, “Nevertheless, farmers are not the
villains of my piece. Farmers, he says, worry about
markets, weather, bugs, the problems of running a
successful business, and fears of being branded a
“troublemaker by certain marketing boards.
The article goes on to lament the state of the
nations debt, the size of the government and “the
gravest yet least understood of all our rural ills”:
disappearing farmland.
There follows a comprehensive list of
recommendations to address all these problems
including: “One positive step would be proper
regulation of monopolistic marketing boards,
apparently because, “Government experts
recommended, in a secret 1976 report, that the
boards be stripped of all power to manage food
supplies.
The fact that Mr. MacEachern knew about the
secret report means that it wasn’t a secret at all, or
he was one of the government experts responsible
for it.
Given Mr. MacEacherns low opinion of farmers,
we might fairly wonder what landed him in the
deputy minister of agricultures oce? His
subsequent antagonistic relationship with
professional agrologists indicates they were
probably seen as part of the problem.
In hindsight, we should thank our lucky stars that
Mr. MacEachern was sacked for his expense account
indiscretions. Given more time, he might have re-
written the agricultural landscape with legislation
based on a secret report by government experts.
Fortunately, secret reports by government
experts no longer carry the gravitas Mr. MacEachern
accorded them. Now, they just smell shy.
Bob Collins raises beef cattle and grows produce on
his farm in the Alberni Valley.
The Back Forty
BOB COLLINS
The frustrations and uncertainties may well mean many voters will be grateful
for a chance to vote in a new MLA and sway the composition of the legislature.
Something for which we can all be grateful is that this years voters are highly
engaged in the success of its farmers, ranchers and food producers. The
pandemic has focused fresh attention on their importance, and highlighted
what’s important to their success. Here’s to a government that keeps them top of
mind, perhaps even making them a whole of government priority.
Some things about farming never change
4 | OCTOBER 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
Growing craft beer sector built on community connections
Microbreweries, and their patrons, depend on the farms that harvest their ingredients
stokes customer engagement
and loyalty.
Beyond connoisseur
language, professional
websites and designer
packaging, there is proven
quality. The BC Beer Awards
judged 1,185 entries from 122
breweries in 2019, the
competitions ninth year.
Beers competed in 31 classes
by style (North American,
European, UK) and type (ale,
IPA, stout). In 2019,
Richmond’s Fuggles and
Warlock Craftworks won best
beer for its Pixel Pils. The 2019
Peoples Choice Survey
awarded top spot to
Driftwood Fat Tug IPA and
runner-up to Hoyne Dark
Matter in both “favourite” and
“most-consumed” categories.
Craft breweries, especially
those on farms, develop and
foster strong attachments to
their surrounding
communities, and may have
innovative business models.
Crannóg Ales in Sorrento is
Canadas rst certied organic
and certied Salmon Safe
farmhouse microbrewery,
having opened in 2000. Hops
and grains are grown on the
farm and spent grains are fed
to its livestock or composted.
Wastewater is treated and
reused. A vegetable garden
feeds the family and any
surplus goes to the local
community. Brewer Brian
MacIsaac explains “while we
are a corporation, our primary
goal is not to continually
grow and maximize prots,
Thanksgiving may look
dierent this year, but the
past few months have
sharpened our sense of
interdependence. Each food
and beverage we enjoy
represents a web of
relationships from land to
fork; for people in each
business, these relationships
are like extended family.
Perhaps a craft beer is in
your glass. You may have
cheered from the sidelines as
the quest for “real ale” in the
1980s led determined
pioneers at Horseshoe Bay
Brewing and in Victoria to
create specialty beers.
By early 2020, there were
nearly 200 breweries on the
BC Craft Brewers Guild list,
with 21 new outlets expected
to open this year. In 2019, the
sector earned $303 million in
revenue from breweries in
about 60 BC communities and
supported more than 4,500
jobs. The breweries, in turn,
support related agricultural
businesses in hops, grains and
fruits.
This summer, What’s
Brewing magazine published a
30-year retrospective of BC
craft beer, honouring every
craft brewery that has opened
or closed in the province in
that time. Describing 2020 as
a year that completely went
o the rails, editor Dave
Smith comments that beer
watchers had no idea that
the Spring of 2020 might
eectively be a hidden cli at
the end of what has been a
superhighway of brewery
openings in North America.
Sector growth since 1980
has been ripple, then
wave, then tsunami,
with periods of stasis
between. In 2013,
changes in liquor
licensing to allow
consumption areas
at breweries and
sales at o-site locations
propelled the tsunami.
Although beer and liquor
production were declared
essential when COVID-19 hit,
delays in reopening keg sales
and tasting rooms hit craft
breweries especially hard.
Established operations are
working with COVID-19
restrictions as best they can.
Not all the anticipated new
operations have launched.
Cheerfully individualistic
BC’s craft beer universe is
sophisticated as well as
cheerfully individualistic.
Breweries oer core, seasonal
and specialty beers. Products
are creatively named,
described and showcased.
Many of the breweries oer
merchandise to promote the
brewery or a specic beer. In a
world that encourages
personal branding, all this
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC OCTOBER 2020 | 5
but to nd and maintain a
stable nancial base and to
live within our means. We
have a growth cap policy,
which means that we will not
grow the brewery beyond
the footprint that the farm (or
our egos) can sustain.
Persephone Brewing in
Gibsons operates an on-farm
brewery, tasting room, store
and CSA box program. The
business is structured as a
Certied B Corp, part of an
intentional shift from
shareholder capitalism to
stakeholder capitalism –
which ties the success of the
business to its employees,
customers, suppliers and
community, not only to its
investors. Persephones
founder Brian Smith is also
CEO of Rhiza Capital, a green
venture capital B Corp
connecting root capital to
impact ventures on the
Sunshine Coast.
At this point, if you are
inspired – and thirsty – here
are some simple steps you
can take to support BCs craft
brewers. Ask for your
favourite craft beer in your
liquor store or call the
brewery. Seek a new craft
beer to try. If you want award
winners, the BC Beer Awards
or Beer Me BC websites can
help. If you want craft brews
near you, the BC Ale Trail
website has them sorted by
location.
If you love good beer, you
can help make this dicult
year a bit less dicult for the
members of this industry
sectors family. Share the love:
get the product, enjoy it,
express appreciation to the
makers, from your family to
theirs. Happy Thanksgiving.
Kathleen Gibson is a policy
analyst and founding member
of the Capital Region Food and
Agriculture Initiatives
Roundtable (CR-FAIR), the BC
Food Systems Network and
Food Secure Canada. She lives
and grows food on the
traditional territory of the
Lekwungen-speaking peoples
and the Songhees, Esquimalt
and WSÁNEĆ Nations.
Viewpoint
by KATHLEEN GIBSON
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COUNTRY LIFE IN BC OCTOBER 2020 | 7
by TOM WALKER
KELOWNA – As the apples
turn red across the
Okanagan, Similkameen and
Creston valleys and trucks
start to move them to
packinghouses, BC apple
growers face their busiest
time of year.
But the management team
at BC Tree Fruits Cooperative,
which sells more than $100
million worth of apples
annually, is also busy. This
year has seen CEO Warren
Saranchan and board chair
Steve Brown working to
revitalize the nancially
challenged co-op and ensure
its members receive higher
returns.
We are making progress
on a number of key initiatives
for the business, says
Saranchan. “We are
monitoring the changes
closely to make sure we are
getting the expected results.
A governance report
released this past February
called for a number of major
changes to the structure and
operating of the co-ops
board of directors and urged
a focus on delivering high-
quality fruit. Yet while
members discuss and reect
BC Tree Fruits
prepares to sell
assets, apples
Trimming costs, boosting returns
key as harvest begins
Over the years, a number of top-quality growers have left BC Tree Fruits Co-op to work
with independent packinghouses in the hopes of better returns. There are now between 20
and 25 independent tree fruit packers across BC.
This season, several co-op members have decided to ignore their contractual obligations
to the co-op and will be shipping their apples to an independent packer. As harvest nears,
apple bins labelled from independent packinghouses have appeared on some BCTF
members’ landings.
“I have heard of growers breaking their contracts and I have identied growers moving
fruit to other houses, says Warren Saranchan, the co-op’s CEO. There are provisions in the
contact for this and we will deal with it accordingly.
Regardless of the consequences, Saranchan sa
ys he understands their frustration with
low returns.
“I absolutely understand the nancial challenges that the last three years have brought,
he says. That is why we are working as hard as we are working to get the situation xed as
fast as we can.
But it won’t be a quick x.
The reality is the situation took years and years to build to this point and it is going to
take some time to get it turned around, he explains. “I have done this many times with other
organizations and I strongly believe we can get the business turned around.
Underpinning the whole concept of a co-op is the idea that members are stronger
together, Saranchan points out.
“I am hopeful that the concept of stronger and better together is something we can all
rally around, he says. “If growers decide to take their fruit to other houses and weaken the
overall cooperative, it will be a signicant issue f
or the entire collective.
Tom Walker
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on the report, with the aim of
voting on its
recommendations at an
upcoming meeting, the
management team continues
to make changes to improve
the nancial situation of the
business.
Corporate offices closed
The top priority is selling
non-performing assets. BCTF
shut its corporate oces in
downtown Kelowna at the
end of September and will
sell the premises. Also on the
block is the Osoyoos packing
facility, which closed in fall
2017. The Keremeos and
Summerland packing houses
will continue to receive fruit,
but storage is being
consolidated at other
facilities.
Packing lines at the Oliver
and Wineld plants have
been studied and
investments have been made
to reduce costs, a major
marketing expense.
“Since shutdown in late
spring we have studied our
line technologies, processes
and training protocols and
made capital upgrades to
facilities to not only lower the
See BCTF on next page
o
8 | OCTOBER 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
BCTF nfrom pg 7
cost of packing, but to reduce
the amount of fruit lost on
the pack line, says
Saranchan.
While the BC Tree leaf
brand is well known in
Western Canada, Saranchan
says diversication into other
markets is important to
deliver higher returns for
growers. He points to
connections he made on a
trip to Asia in February as
“helpful in the execution of
our business plan.
This year, BC Tree Fruits
oered growers an incentive
to encourage them to deliver
top-quality fruit. The
governance report identied
the co-ops former practice of
accepting poor quality fruit
and disposing of it as a loss
for all members.
The co-op has developed
an Apple Quality Assurance
Program that sets out
minimum pricing for growers
who produce apples whose
size, colour and ripeness
command a premium.
The objective is to
encourage growers to
manage their orchards as
best they can through the
summer, in anticipation that
there will be a certain return
in the fall, explains
Saranchan.
He believes that the
program is having a positive
eect.
“I am hearing examples
from growers where the
program has given them the
condence to make the
investments to manage their
orchards to produce high
quality fruit to qualify for the
pricing, he says.
The governance report
noted a lack of cooperation
as a major impediment to the
co-ops progress.
The board and
membership is factionalized,
often driven by personal
agendas rather than business
decisions, the report stated.
Saranchan believes there
is an opportunity for better
working relationships among
all stakeholders.
There has got to be
collaboration between those
who represent the members
[the board], the CEO, and the
members, to be committed to
working through the issues
and getting to a place where
the business is delivering the
results for the members that
it needs to, he says.
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The smoke blanketing the
southern half of BC from res
in Washington and Oregon in
September is yet another blow
to apple growers hoping for a
good crop in the face of low
prices and a labour shortage.
“The crop is of good quality,
about where we thought it
would be,” says consultant
Hank Markgraf. “But the heat
at the end of August, and now
the smoke, is affecting colour
development.
PHOTO / TOM WALKER
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Cold weather, rain deliver
double last years losses
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC OCTOBER 2020 | 9
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.
2021 Tree Fruit Replant Program
by TOM WALKER
KELOWNA – BC cherry
growers are looking at record
losses for the second straight
year after Mother Nature left
them in the pits.
This has been the second
year of dicult weather for
our cherry growers, says
Laurel Van Dam, director of
sales for BC Tree Fruits. We
ended up receiving 54% of
our original cherry crop
estimate this season due to all
the weather events the
growers experienced.
The losses were not spread
evenly. Some growers
reported losses of 30% while
others lost their entire crop.
Cold temperatures and rain
were the two main culprits.
“It started with a freeze we
had in January, says Hank
Markgraf of Hanks
Horticulture in Kelowna.
A rapid drop in
temperatures to -18° Celsius in
Kelowna and -24° in Vernon
damaged dormant cherry
buds. And when blossoms
opened in April, several nights
of frost added to the
damaged.
The great variety of terrain,
soils, latitude and sun
direction as well as the bloom
and harvest times of the
dierent varieties grown
contributed to dierent
outcomes. The result was a
wide range of fruit
development depending on
location.
The crop density varied
signicantly across the
industry, explains Van Dam.
In some cases, less fruit on
a tree might result in larger
cherries. Size matters in the
cherry business, as larger
cherries command a higher
price, particularly in the
export market.
But frost does not kill buds
evenly, notes Markgraf.
“I would nd ve or six
damaged buds in a cluster on
one tree and 20 paces down
the row there was no
damage, he says.
Branches closest to the
ground tended to be aected
the most.
Rain throughout June and
into the early part of July
caused further damage to the
crop just as it was ready to be
picked. Rain causes the fruit to
swell and split.
There were blocks where
growers just walked away,
says Markgraf.
Some growers in
Summerland, like the Carlson
family, were hit by hail, as
were areas of the
Similkameen.
To pick or not to pick
But cherries are a high-
value crop and growers made
harvest decisions at the last
minute based on market price.
Some orchards with only 20%
crop were picked while others
with 50% were not, says
Markgraf.
“It was this constant ‘should
we or shouldn’t we pick’ back
and forth, he recalls. “But then
we ran out of pickers and
good fruit was left rotting on
the trees.
Avi Gill who farms with his
father Karm in Kelowna says
there were two factors at play.
“COVID restricted the
foreign backpackers from
coming into Canada and, in
some ways, those from
eastern Canada as well, he
says. “But a lot of pickers didn’t
come out from the east this
summer because they heard
crop was low and they
wouldn’t be able to make as
much money.
All told, the BC Ministry of
Agriculture expects to pay out
$18.5 million in AgriStability
claims to cherry growers for
the 2020 growing season.
That’s almost double last
years claims of $9.6 million,
setting a new record since
records began being kept in
2004.
While the total plantings of
cherries in BC have grown
substantially over the last ve
years, plantings continue. Bare
land has been planted for
cherry production and apples
in particular have been pulled
out and replanted in cherries.
Apple growers like the Gills
have planted cherries in order
to diversify, but two years
poor growing conditions for
cherries have coincided with
three years of low apple
prices.
This year the apple crop
looks good, says Gill. We just
hope we have enough
pickers.
Despite numerous appeals
in the local media he says he
has only been able to hire two
locals for extra help.
1-888-770-7333
BILL
AWMACK
Cherry growers
slammed by
record losses
www.countrytractor.ca
CLAUDIO ROTHENBACHER
778.921.0004
claudio@countrytrac tor.ca
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Jf`cGi\gjkXikjn`k_Bl_e
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7ISIT
Pickers – and choosers
Smoke didn’t delay the Coronation grape harvest for long at Avoca Aronia Farm and Vineyard in
Kelowna. In quick succession, grapes are harvested, then taken in shallow buckets to be packaged on-
farm in clam shells. All are sold to BC Tree Fruits. Hiring pickers this year was a challenge. For starters,
table grapes have to be handled much more delicately than wine grapes. But the lack of labour also
means pickers were picking and choosing who to work for based on wage.
PHOTO / MYRNA STARK LEADER
10 | OCTOBER 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
by PETER MITHAM
ABBOTSFORD – Several activists charged
in last years invasion of Excelsior Hog Farm
in Abbotsford appeared in court on
September 3.
A total of 21 counts were read against
four individuals at provincial court in
Abbotsford in relation to the incident at the
end of April 2019. Amy Soranno, Je Rigear,
Roy Sasano and Nicholas Schafer were
charged with break and enter and mischief.
“Its an accomplishment that charges
were laid, said Jack DeWit, president of the
BC Pork Producers Association.
While close to 150 people took part in
the protest, coming onto the property in an
event livestreamed to social media, police
identied and secured the contact
information of just 50 protesters. Those
individuals had entered and occupied one
of the farms barns.
Soranno, of Okanagan Animal Save, was
the only member of the group arrested.
Abbotsford police released her pending a court
appearance.
“Our investigation continues, and we will be
looking at charges for the protesters with respect to
break-and-enter and mischief, Abbotsford Police
Department communications ocer, Sgt. Judy Bird,
said at the time.
Abbotsford police told industry groups earlier this
year that they were urging Crown prosecutors to lay
charges in the matter, which followed an earlier
burglary in which surveillance cameras were
installed.
We submitted a very comprehensive report, and
we are hoping at the end of the day that the Crown
counsel sees it the way we do and lays the charges
that we have recommended, Sgt. Casey Vinet said in
February. “[If ] theres no meaningful consequences,
we just embolden these folks and things just get
worse.
However, supporters of the accused staged a rally
outside the courthouse the day of the hearing, and
said things are already worse for the animals. While
the BC SPCA found insucient evidence to lay
charges, the activists maintain that video footage
provided by People for the Ethical Treatment of
Animals was sucient.
Moreover, they claim the BC SPCA turned
in the individual who installed the cameras
alleged to have gathered the footage at
Excelsior and turned it over to PETA.
These charges are, in part, due to the BC
SPCA failing the animals by turning in a
whistleblower to the police, Soranno wrote
in a Facebook post after her court
appearance on September 3. The system in
place to protect animals is failing them in
the worst possible way.
Soranno did not identify the individual,
whose name was blacked out in documents
activists posted online in an update
regarding a petition they launched in August
to urge the BC SPCA to recommend criminal
charges against Excelsior Hog Farm. Despite
questions regarding the provenance of the
footage, and whether or not it had been
tampered, the activists continue to allege
the farm treated its animals poorly.
However, a comparison of footage taken
during the invasion of Excelsiors barn last
April and the footage distributed by PETA
shows two dierent environments.
More than 33,000 people had signed the petition
at press time.
The next court appearance for the four activists is
scheduled for November 2. Whatever the outcome
of the trial, DeWit hopes it sends a clear message to
other activist groups intent on trespass.
“Hopefully it’s more than a $150 ne and ‘Don’t do
it again, he said. We were hoping that there’d be
some stier penalties and a deterrent so they
wouldn’t do it again but we won’t know that until
the judge has made a nal ruling.
With les from Sarbmeet Singh
Animal rights activists land in court
Four activists face 21 charges in last year’s Excelsior Hog Farm protest
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Charges have now been laid against four people involved in an animal rights
protest at an Abbotsford hog farm in 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/PHOTOGRAPHER
Julia Smith of the Small-Scale Meat Producers Association says the time for consultation is over and the province
should act quickly to implement changes aimed at modernizing rural slaughter practices. PHOTO / SUBMITTED
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC OCTOBER 2020 | 11
Meat producers
frustrated by
consultations
by TOM WALKER
MERRITT – BC meat
producers are frustrated that
the province is spending
more time studying how to
help them than getting on
with acting on its ndings.
The BC Ministry of
Agriculture released an
intentions paper September 14
aimed at modernizing rural
slaughter practices, but Julia
Smith of the Small-Scale Meat
Producers Association says
the government doesn’t seem
to realize the urgency of the
situation.
The intentions paper talks
about undertaking a risk
assessment project to
support development options
for rural meat production,
says Smith. “Its too late for
that now. Many operations
simply cannot survive another
round of consultations.
Smith says the slaughter
and cut and wrap capacity in
BC is facing a serious crisis
that will only accelerate in the
coming months. Abattoirs are
already cancelling bookings
that were made months ago,
she says, and producers are
being left with literally
nowhere to process their
animals legally.
The government has an
opportunity here to provide
relief and oversight during a
global pandemic that could
be a catalyst for long-lasting,
progressive change in the
future, she notes.
But the government
already knows that. It rst
began talking with the
industry back in 2016. There
were numerous consultations
and a standing committee of
the legislature delivered a
report on the situation in
2018.
Nova Woodbury, executive
director of the BC Association
of Abattoirs, says her
members are tired of saying
the same things.
“I have 10 Word documents
open right now that are past
submissions I have made to
the ministry and I am trying
to consolidate them into yet
again another response, she
said.
This is the worst time of the
year to try and talk to the
industry, Smith adds.
“September is not the time
of year to initiate meaningful
consultation with the farmers
and ranchers, she says.
“Implement some emergency
measures now and continue
to consult through the winter
to hammer out more
permanent changes for the
spring.
Overall, the intentions the
province outlines are good
and reect what many in the
industry have been saying.
They include increasing the
standards of inspection for
class D and E plants to more
closely align their
uninspected slaughter
practices with those of
inspected class A and B
processors.
This paper provides the
support the industry has
been asking for and gives
reassurance to members of
the public that food safety
and animal welfare standards
are going to be enforced,
says Woodbury.
The paper follows the
provinces decision in August
to consolidate all meat
inspection in the province
under the agriculture
ministrys Meat Inspection
Branch, a change eective
December 1. (While the
branch oversaw inspections
at class A and B plants, D and
E facilities were under the BC
Ministry of Health.)
The intentions paper
focuses on four key areas:
public health and safety,
innovation, regulatory
eciency and strengthening
the provincial food supply.
Public health and safety is
where improving oversight,
increasing inspections and
updating codes of practice
for D and E facilities fall.
Virtual inspections, post
mortem inspections and
third-party involvement in
inspections is part of
innovation. The framework
for D and E processors could
also be updated.
Regulatory eciency will
be addressed by working
with FrontCounter BC to
improve the licensing
process.
Aiming to strengthen the
provincial food supply, the
government acknowledges
that demand is increasing for
local meat. But that isn’t a
new or unexpected issue,
Smith points out.
We were already
struggling to meet the
growing demand long before
COVID hit, she says. A
resilient and diverse local
food supply chain isn't
something we should have
Action, not talk, needed from
province, say small growers
just in case the ‘real’ food
supply chain breaks down. It
should be the norm and we
need appropriate
infrastructure and regulations
that reect this.
The deadline for public
feedback is October 19. The
province promises to begin
making regulatory and policy
changes by the end of the
year.
Woodbury hopes there is
money for the government to
follow through. She notes
that the meat inspection
branch moved to cut costs
last year by mandating
restrictions on overtime.
Smith urges the province
to use taxpayers dollars
wisely.
“Instead of spending
money on more consultation,
spend it to support abattoirs
to expand, local butchers to
expand, and new people to
open slaughter and butcher
facilities, she says.
With the province
announcing $1.5 billion in
funding last month for
economic recovery from the
COVID-19 pandemic, Smith
believes theres no better time
for action.
“If we were ever going to
make something happen
quickly, it is now, she says.
12 | OCTOBER 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
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are lactose intolerant – in February. This month, Agrifoods International is undertaking a national launch of the
specialty milk under their Meadowfresh brand. PHOTO / D DUTCHMAN DAIRY
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC OCTOBER 2020 | 13
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ABBOTSFORD – BC
consumers now have the
opportunity to try something
a little dierent from the dairy
aisle.
A2 milk, or milk without the
beta-casein variant A1, had its
ocial launch in BC last
month as Meadowfresh Dairy
Corp. began producing and
selling the product under
licence from New Zealand’s a2
Milk Company Ltd. (a2MC).
We did a soft launch in
select stores in Western Canada
this summer and are
preparing for the national
launch in the next few weeks,
says member services manager
Ursula Klein of Agrifoods
International Cooperative Ltd.,
which owns Meadowfresh. “By
the beginning of October, a2
Milk-branded products will be
available throughout BC and
across Canada.
The licence gives
Agrifoods, through
Meadowfresh, an exclusive
right to use the trademarks
and other intellectual
property of a2MC, including
the a2 Milk brand, to produce
and sell milk in Canada that
lacks the A1 protein.
The BC Milk Marketing
Board solicited expressions of
interest from producers
wanting to supply Meadowfresh
with milk lacking the A1
protein this past March.
We had lots of producers
express interest. There’s
denitely more producers
than we have sales for the
product at this point, says
BCMMB supply and business
development director Woody
Siemens.
With consumers in Canada
largely unfamiliar with
products dened by the
dominance of the A 2 protein
– both those trademarked a2
Milk and products previously
available from a few Canadian
producer-processors – the
BCMMB is building the supply
pipeline slowly.
There’s two producers
right now that are part of it,
Siemens says.
Conventional milk contains
a mix of A1 and A2 beta-
casein proteins whereas A2
producers claim their
products are made with milk
that has only the A2 protein.
“Published research
suggests a2 Milk ... may help
avoid digestive discomfort in
some people, says Klein.
The theory behind it is
that a lot of people that say
theyre lactose intolerant
aren’t actually; they just have
a sensitivity to the A1 protein,
adds Siemens.
Agrifoods is marketing its
1%, 2% and 3.25% butterfat
milk varieties as the rst and
only milk certied under the
a2 Milk brand in Canada.
Cows producing milk for the
a2 Milk brand must be
identied by genetic testing
to naturally produce only A2
protein, segregated from
other cows, and milked
separately from the rest of the
herd to help ensure there is
no cross-contamination.
The key is that only the a2
Milk brand has third-party
verication and testing along
key points in the supply
chain, including the nished
product, to help ensure that
the milk that consumers bring
home to their families
contains only the A2 protein,
and no A1, says Klein.
The a2 Milk Company was
founded in New Zealand in
2000. Its intellectual property
includes the genetic test and
methods to develop herds
that produce milk that only
contains the A2 protein.
Nick Dewitts herd of 100
cows at Dari Delite Farm in
Sicamous produces milk for
A2 products made at
D Dutchman Dairy, which he
owns with his uncle Jake
Dewitt. D Dutchman Dairy
launched its A2 products –
whole milk, white cheddar
and cheddar curds – in
February.
We had read an article
about how well it was doing
in Australia and felt that it was
a market that was untapped
in Western Canada. We were
hoping to jump in the front of
the wave and bring a new
health product to the public,
Dewitt says.
Dewitt had his herd of
registered Jerseys tested for
the A2 protein by Holstein
Canada after his wife
developed a sensitivity to milk.
When she was able to
easily digest the A2 milk
products, he knew it would
work for others.
He is currently using about
A2 milk launch aimed at lactose-intolerant
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5% of the milk produced by
his A2 herd to make A2 milk
products.
“Its been very, very slow
progress. Its a move we made
for the long term. I’m hoping
in the next three years that
we can sell all the milk that I
produce as A2 milk , Dewitt
says.
He also aims to expand
D Dutchmans line to include
butter, ice cream and yogurt.
The goal is to bring
people back to dairy, he says.
Siemens echoes the
sentiment, saying more
producers will be added to
the A2 pool if needed.
“I actually have quite a list
from the rst call and we
would work o of that for
now. Its really based on what
the market demand is, he
says. “Its got a good reception
so far but it’s very new. Its just
getting started.
14 | OCTOBER 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
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Jack Reams P.Ag. Agri-Consulting
Northern Health signs on with FeedBC
Northern Health Authority
became the latest regional
health authority to embrace
FeedBC on September 21.
The announcement was
one of Lana Pophams nal
ocial acts as the provinces
agriculture minister prior to
the election call later that day,
underscoring her eorts to
full the mandate letter she
received three years ago,
which emphasized BuyBC,
FeedBC and GrowBC.
“I’m so excited Northern
Health is now part of Feed
BC, she said with
characteristic enthusiasm.
Were opening the door for a
multitude of new, exciting
business opportunities for BC
farmers, shers, ranchers and
processors and I know they’re
looking forward to providing
more of their delicious
products in the North.
Participation in the
initiative, which prioritizes
local purchasing where
possible, will support the use
of local ingredients in more
than 1.9 million meals a year
at 27 hospitals and residential
care facilities across northern
BC.
Agriculture in the region is
small relative to the
Okanagan and the Lower
Mainland, so many of the
items will come from outside
the region. Growers such as
Daybreak Farms of Terrace,
the regions largest egg
producer, are among the local
farms supplying
Northern Health.
Other suppliers
include
Snowcrest Foods
and Sunrise
Farms in the
Fraser Valley and
Paradise Island Cheese on
Vancouver Island.
In addition to Northern
Health, the FeedBC program
also includes Interior Health
and Fraser Health. The
program also intends to move
into post-secondary schools
and other publicly funded
institutions.
—Peter Mitham
Cranberry
outlook brightens
BC cranberry growers are
expecting a crop closer to
usual volumes this year after
cold weather in 2019 cut the
harvest in half.
The province typically
produces about a million
barrels a year, but in 2019
marketed production as
reported by Statistics Canada
was just 672,100 barrels. Per-
acre yields also fell, dropping
from 211 barrels in 2018 to
100 barrels last year.
“Its looking like its going
to be a decent crop, much
better than last year, said
Fraser Valley grower Jack
DeWit, a member of the BC
Cranberry Marketing
Commission. “Last year was a
complete disaster.
The commission
announced that harvest
kicked o on September 15,
but DeWit expected to begin
gathering berries from his
own farm a week later.
Among the reasons for his
delay was a blanket of smoke
from wildres in the US that
covered the valley in mid-
September that stalled the
colouring up of fruit.
However, sales this year
have been good and he
expects strong demand as
people continue to stay home
out of concern regarding
COVID-19.
“Sales have been good for
Ocean Spray and some of the
independents. People have
stayed home and bought
more o the grocery shelves,
he said. Thats good news,
because we were denitely
long on product.
A report on the provinces
cranberry sector co-authored
by Sandra Behm, senior
appraiser with Farm Credit
Canada in Abbotsford, noted
that farm protability remains
“fragile thanks to low prices.
“Prices have hovered
around an average of
US$0.30-$0.35 a pound since
2017 and projected to remain
within this range in the next
few years, the report stated,
noting that poor yields in BC
last year had pushed the per-
acre value of production to an
all-time low of around $5,150
(or about US$0.40 a pound).
DeWit said the pricing
situation has improved this
year thanks to strong demand
that has eaten into stocks and
brightened the outlook.
“It looks like prices are
starting to move up, he says.
“Ocean Spray has exceeded
their margin expectations,
and theyre hoping to give
some more money to the
producers.
—Peter Mitham
Agriculture nabs
recovery funding
BC’s agrifood sector was
among those singled out as a
priority for funds as part of
the $1.5 billion stimulus
package BC announced
September 17 to help
businesses recover from
COVID-19.
While agriculture was
designated an essential
service during the pandemic,
shifts in consumer spending
required that businesses
adapt rapidly. Added
expenses from measures
aimed at protecting farm
workers and visitors from
COVID-19 added to short-
term costs.
Accompanying the
heading “Supporting B.C.
businesses, the province
shows a masked worker
stocking Okanagan Sunrise
apples with gloves on.
Programs to support these
and other food sector workers
have been allocated $25
million.
However, many of the
programs are already in
existence. These include the
$3 million for the agritech
grant program, administered
by the Investment Agriculture
Foundation of BC, and $5.6
million for expanding the BC
Food Hub Network. The
biggest tranche of funding is
$12 million to detect and
eliminate invasive species.
Smaller amounts are
dedicated to on-farm
innovation ($1.6 million) and
small farm business
acceleration as well as the
provincial replant program
($890,000).
In addition to these
agriculture-specic programs,
a $500 million investment
program, InBC, is being set up
to help businesses scale up.
To support new investment in
machinery and equipment,
the province will oer a 100%
rebate on provincial sales
taxes on eligible purchases.
But theres a catch: the
rebates won’t be available
until April 1, 2021. The criteria
for InBC is also being
developed and won’t be
known until next spring.
—Peter Mitham
North Okanagan
reaches farmers
Community Futures North
Okanagan has a new business
program designed for
growth-minded farmers and
meat operators looking for
ways to succeed in the wake
of COVID-19.
The REACH Agricultural
Accelerator Pilot Program
aims to give agricultural
entrepreneurs the tools and
support they need to pivot
operations, scale up and nd
new success.
Participants spend 22
weeks exploring gaps and
opportunities in their
businesses, developing action
plans and implementing key
steps towards achieving their
goals.
Agrologist and agricultural
consultant Andrea Gunner is
facilitating the program.
Components include one-on-
one coaching, workshops and
customized professional
services including
accountants, lawyers and
marketing.
The pilot program starts in
late October and runs until
March 2021.
Applications are currently
being accepted via the CFNO
website. Agricultural
operations doing business in
the North Okanagan region
for at least two years are
eligible. The intake process
includes an in-person
interview.
CFNO expects eight to 10
existing agri-food businesses
will participate in the
program, which has an
operating budget of $70,000.
Jackie Pearase
Ag Briefs
EDITED BY PETER MITHAM
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC OCTOBER 2020 | 15
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DELTA – BC potato growers will be
protected from dumping of
Washington potatoes through next
July, thanks to COVID-19.
A review of the long-standing anti-
dumping order, rst issued in 1990
after an investigation initiated in
1984, was announced by the
Canadian International Trade Tribunal
on July 29. The ve-year order
expired September 9, but as a result
of the delay in initiating the review, it
remains in place until the tribunal
completes completes its work and
issues a decision.
“Its going to be in place till next
July. They’re looking at a hearing – if
theres going to be something – next
March or April, said Peter Guichon of
Felix Farms in Delta, a grower who
chairs the committee of the BC
Vegetable Marketing Commission
addressing the issue on behalf of
industry.
The timeline for the review has
been shifting through this year,
causing signicant concern for
growers. The issue surfaced during
the vegetable commissions annual
general meeting at the end of April,
where general manager Andre
Solymosi noted that preparation for
the review had started in 2019.
“On January 10, our legal team
submitted a request of the Canada
Border Services Agency (CBSA) to
immediately initiate a reinvestigation
of normal values and the
methodology used to set export
prices with respect to certain whole
potatoes, he reported. The process
for submitting the request has
changed this year, so there was a lot
of work upfront to get this request
submitted compared to prior years.
Despite “a pretty strong assurance
that an expiry review would occur,
industry heard nothing until the end
of July.
We can probably expect that it
will be a short notice, Solymosi said
in April. “It will hit us in the middle
production season, so its something
that were going to have to deal with.
With issuance of the review notice
at the end of July, the CBSA initiated
its investigation, issuing a
questionnaire to aected parties.
Canadas industry stepped up. By
press time, CBSA had received
responses to its questionnaire from
the commission as well as BC Fresh,
Vancouver Island Farm Products Inc.,
Island Vegetable Cooperative
Association and Okanagan Grown
Produce Ltd.
CBSA has promised a
determination regarding dumping by
December 24, with a statement of
reasons available January 8.
“If decision is armative,
information pursuant to the Canadian
International Trade Tribunal Rules is
transferred to the CITT, it said, at
which point the tribunal takes over
the matter and proceeds with issuing
a new order.
Washington is the biggest exporter
of potatoes to BC, sending $44 million
worth of fresh tubers north in 2019
alone, or nearly 84% of the province’s
total fresh potato imports. The
amount has grown steadily from
$31.3 million worth in 2013.
Dumping occurs when potatoes
are sold into a country at prices that
undercut local production. The most
recent order against Washington
producers, issued in 2015,
determined that dumping had
occurred and was likely to continue
occurring in white and russet
potatoes from August 1 to April 30
each year, excluding those imported
in 50-pound cartons at count sizes 40
to 80 (per box).
Pandemic delays review of anti-dumping order
30-year-old order targetting Washington potatoes could be renewed
BC potato farmers can rest easy – at least for now – because of a delay in reviewing a long-
standing anti-dumping order. FILE PHOTO
Brian Faulkner, vice-president of business development for BC Fresh, and ES Cropconsult’s Heather Meberg share
thoughts on a red-skinned potato variety, Carminelle, during the potato eld day in August. PHOTO / RONDA PAYNE
16 | OCTOBER 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
Potato field day showcases new varieties
COVID-19 safety requirements put an emphasis on information over socializing
by RONDA PAYNE
DELTA – The focus was
solidly on the crop at the BC
Potato and Vegetable Growers
Associations potato variety
trial on August 19, thanks to
health and safety restrictions
designed to prevent COVID-
19.
Heather Meberg, president
of ES Cropconsult, says the
feedback she received on the
70 varieties planted was much
more detailed than in past
years. She estimated about 60
growers and industry people
came out to look at the
potatoes grown by Brent Kelly,
who planted the crop on
neighbour Ken Davies farm.
The trial varieties were treated
the same as the rest of the
eld in terms of irrigation and
management.
The trials were good, but
all that COVID kind of wrecked
(the eld day), Kelly says. The
potatoes were good. The
quality and the yields were
good. Good results in a bunch
of varieties. It was a good
eld.
Visitors attended in shifts
throughout the afternoon,
answering COVID-19
screening questionnaires and
obeying one-way signage
when viewing trial varieties.
Like Kelly, Meberg was
disappointed with the
inability to engage in the
usual social interaction over a
meal, but she did say this
years format allowed for
greater opportunity to have
discussions (while physically
distanced) about the actual
trial eld with growers.
“Many interesting varieties
this year, she says. “My
challenge was not knowing
whether wed have a eld day.
It looks very dierent than
usual.
Processing potatoes that
garnered the most positive
attention from growers were
Anivia and Jennifer (white);
Bonnata KWS and Wendy
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in accordance with the BC Certified
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for all farm, processing and handling
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Message 604-607-1655
Email: admin@fvopa.ca
www.fvopa.ca
Phone 604-789-7586
P.O. Box 18591
Delta, BC V4K 4V7
Phone: 778-434-3070
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(yellow); and Rickey Russet.
Elmo came through as a
popular early red while
CO9907606R was another
interesting red.
There were only two purple
varieties in the trial crop and
neither hit growers’ radar.
Peter Guichon, owner of
Felix Farms in Delta, notes that
he nished planting in May
this year, an anomaly as he
usually completes the task in
June. He farms with his
brothers.
He says this year’s harvest
was “pretty good, noting it is
“probably one of the best
growing seasons I’ve seen.
We’ve been harvesting since
May to meet the fresh market
demand.
And while he notes that the
season looks good overall, it
comes down to what happens
during harvest, which will last
into mid-October for some. He
currently has 12 potato
varieties planted and is
conscious of the need to nd
new options.
“I’m always looking for
something that looks good,
he says. Jumps out at you.
His favourites are the white
variety Jennifer and a red
called Rosi, although he had
concerns that the skin might
be too light in colour.
Not only was the planting
season early, but due to the
late spring rain, there was less
need for irrigation in the trial
eld than usual. This was an
odd occurrence, according to
Kelly.
“Lots of stu was planted
early and we had good rain in
June, he says. We didn’t have
to irrigate as much as we
usually do.
Kelly tries new varieties
each year and his current
varieties were found through
the BC Potato and Vegetable
Growers Association’s potato
variety trial. While the trial
plots are great for getting an
idea, Kelly notes it also takes
planting a couple of acres to
know if they work or not.
As in past years, this years
trial crop included russet,
white, yellow, red, and purple
potatoes of established and
new, as yet unnamed, varieties
provided by a range of
Canadian suppliers. A little
more than half the varieties
were in the replicated plot
trials while others were for
demonstration to gauge
potential interest. Meberg will
provide a detailed analysis of
the results of the replicated
trials near the end of the year.
Wes Heppell of Heppell’s
Potato Corp. liked the yellow
potato SF Vario for the looks
of its production levels at the
eld day, but added, “there’s a
lot of unknowns. He added
that the 98-day growing
period may be too long as
some of the potatoes were
oversized.
“Its good for growers to see
how [dierent varieties] grow
in Delta versus the industry
standard, says Meberg.
E201 Alaska Highway
t&BTZ"MBTLB)XZ"DDFTT
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Fort St. John, BC $315,000
Call/Txt Linda 604.997.5399
7001 Savona Access Road
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Savona, BC $1,989,000
Call/Txt Freddy 604.997.5398
Award Winning
Lakeside Country Inn
25 Semi-Lakefront
Acres in Harrison
Rockwell Drive, Harrison
t$SFFLGSPOUPO+FOOFS$SFFL
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Harrison, BC
$4,650,000
Call/Txt Linda 604.997.5399
Homesteaders!
151 Riverfront Acres
2281 & 2285 Blackwater Rd.
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t)BZ'JFME#BSO4IPQ
Quesnel, BC $898,000
Call/Txt Freddy 604.997.5398
Equine Lovers Dream
on 63 Acres in Quesnel
7012 Baker Road, 100 Mile
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100 Mile House, BC
$839,00
Call/Txt Sabine 778.363.2750
Luxury Home on 70
Acres + Private Pond
Call 604.491.1060
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Selling BC’s Lifestyle Properties
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Pristine Waterfront Land!
t
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Forest Grove, BC $550,000
Call/Txt Freddy 604.997.5398
Pristine - 140 Acres
Dorrit Lake Ranch
The COVID-19 pandemic has added a level of complexity for farmers who depend on foreign labour for planting,
eld work and especially for harvesting BC’s crops. PHOTO / MYRNA STARK LEADER
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC OCTOBER 2020 | 17
FOR BAGGED or
BULK ORDERS
Darren Jansen Owner
604.794.3701
organicfeeds@gmail.com
www.canadianorganicfeeds.com
Certified by Pro-Cert Organic Systems Ltd.
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JANUARY
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VIRTUAL
EDITIONEDITION
C
C
C
C
h
2021
by PETER MITHAM
ABBOTSFORD – BC farmers
will now have to register with
the province if they want to
hire foreign workers.
An announcement
September 19 set a
registration deadline of
December 15 for all employers
who wish to hire foreign
workers. An employer who
currently employs foreign
workers and doesn’t plan on
hiring additional foreign
workers, or who hires through
the Provincial Nominee
Program or the federal
International Mobility
Program (such as student
work abroad initiatives) is
exempt.
Temporary foreign workers
are integral to our agricultural
sector and BC relies on them
for important jobs like
harvesting the crops we
depend on for our daily meals
and to build our province's
food security, said BC
agriculture minister Lana
Popham in a statement
accompanying the
announcement. “The new
registration requirement for
employers will help ensure
foreign workers are fairly
treated.
The registry was
announced in 2018 as part of
the Temporary Foreign Worker
Protection Act, and is the last
step in the implementation of
the act. It was introduced two
days before the government
cut its term short and called
an election for October 24.
According to the province,
registration should take just
20 minutes and an approved
certicate is good for up to
three years. In addition to
contact information,
employers will be asked the
number of foreign workers
they intend to hire within the
next 12 months, where they
intend to recruit them and if
theyre planning to provide
accommodation.
The conduct of each
applicant is evaluated based
on character, nancial history
and competence. Directors
and business partners are also
subject to review, the
province notes, adding that
registration may be refused.
The deadline for
registration dovetails with
eorts industry is making to
smooth the path to entry for
seasonal workers for the 2021
season.
Many nursery operations
require workers in the
opening days of January but
the requirement for foreign
arrivals in Canada to self-
isolate for 14 days could delay
when they start work. To
address the issue, the Western
Agriculture Labour Initiative
(WALI) is proposing two
solutions: working with
government to allow 2021
workers to arrive at the end of
December, or encouraging
growers to consider hiring
through the agricultural
stream of the Temporary
Foreign Worker (TFW)
program.
Challenge recognized
Reg Ens, executive director
of the BC Agriculture Council,
said all levels of government
recognize the challenge
ongoing quarantine
requirements will pose at the
beginning of 2021.
“[But] we have not heard if
they are willing to negotiate a
change to the program
allowing workers into Canada
early to quarantine, he says.
He notes that arriving early
would also demand a sacrice
on the part of workers, who
would not be able to spend
the Christmas season with
their families.
We are working with
stakeholders to look for
options and solutions, he
says.
This is where the TFW
program, which runs
separately from SAWP and in
which WALI isn’t typically
involved, is an option. While
the programs agricultural
stream tends to be more
expensive for the employer
than SAWP, it allows workers
to stay for up to 24 months at
a time rather than eight
months.
SAWP participants already
in Canada are eligible for
transfer to the TFW program,
an option that appeals to
many employers. A standard
process has yet to be worked
out, however.
BCAC boosted WALI’s
budget for the current scal
year to improve its ability to
address the challenges facing
farm employers. It is now
looking at how the
organization may be able to
pivot to support TFW
recruitment.
We are currently looking at
what services and support we
can provide, what licensing (if
any) would be needed and
who we need to work with,
says Ens. We are actively
working on this business
strategy.
BC farms expect to
welcome 4,785 workers
through SAWP this year, down
1,290 versus last year.
Province tightens rules for employers
Registry aims to protect foreign
farm workers
18 | OCTOBER 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
© 2019 AGCO Corporation. Massey Ferguson is a worldwide brand of AGCO Corporation. AGCO and Massey Ferguson are trademarks of AGCO. All rights reserved. MF18TK007CRv03
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Peace grain
growers gather
bitter harvest
Third year of catastrophe could
trigger sales among growers
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC OCTOBER 2020 | 19
Farm and Rural
Residential
Properties
in the Peace
Country are
our specialty
Anne H. Clayton
MBA, AACI P App, RI
Appraiser
Judi Leeming
BHE, AIC Candidate
Appraiser
250.782.1088
info@aspengrovepropertyservices.ca
by PETER MITHAM
DAWSON CREEK – A third
year of catastrophic weather
has left many grain growers in
the Peace idle at a time when
they should be combining.
Well over half the acreage
is barren or yielding less than
it should following several
major rain events shortly after
seeding this spring.
There’s no crop growing,
said Irmi Critcher, who with
her husband Barry farms
4,000 acres of grain and
oilseeds southwest of Taylor.
There were about three
major rain events, about two
to three weeks apart from
each other. … We’ve had
about 15, 18 inches of rain
here, which is
unprecedented.
While the rain benetted
forage producers, it swamped
row crops.
“It really hampered the
emergence of the crop, and
the stu which did get
seeded and survived, that got
hammered again, said
Critcher. Then it would just
rot in the ground, basically. …
We knew in July, early August,
that a good part of our crop
[wouldn’t] make it through.
What has made it to
harvest is uneven, making
harvest dicult. Many
growers delayed seeding this
year because last year’s crop
was still in the eld. A year
ago, weather prevented
growers from harvesting what
had been projected to be a
decent crop. But rain meant
they couldn’t get into the
elds, and much of the crop
was swathed for recovery in
spring. Conditions made this
dicult, however, and the
province nally stepped in to
facilitate the burning of crop
residues.
This year was just a
continuation of last fall – a
pile of crop left in the eld,
and guys tried to harvest it
this spring and then the
moisture kept coming. It
didn’t get seeded on time,
seeded into rutted elds, and
there just is no crop to
harvest this year, said Rick
Kantz, president of the BC
Grain Producers Association
who farms near Fort St. John.
“I would have to say its the
worst crop we’ve ever seen.
Barren land
According to the BC
Ministry of Agriculture, a total
of 50,000 acres went
unplanted this year. BC
typically has about 300,000
acres seeded to grains and
oilseeds. Of the plantings that
did go, the reported damage
was highest in eld peas, with
signicant yield loss and
complete abandonment in
some elds. A ministry
statement provided to
Country Life in BC adds,
“Canola crops are stunted,
and yields are much lower
than normal. Yields are
expected to be below
average.
All told, of the 183 grain
policies issued by the
provinces Production
Insurance, 158 have
registered notices of loss.
As harvest is underway, it
is dicult to establish full
losses at this stage and these
numbers will evolve, the
ministry says.
Current payments for both
unseeded acreage and
quantity losses on seeded
acreage are in the range of
$7.25 million.
“Its very devastating for
the grain sector up here right
now, says Critcher, who is
counting on crop insurance
and AgriStability to see her
through. “Even on an
established farm like us, it’s
hitting us hard, so we do
hope that those programs will
work for us.
The removal of the
reference margin limit for
2020 and the extension of the
enrollment deadline should
both assist producers, she
notes, something producers
in neighbouring Alberta won’t
benet from.
But for some producers, its
too little too late, suggests
Kantz.
A lot of guys are frustrated
with the system and took less
insurance this year, he says,
noting payments for losses
don’t cover land remediation
after severe weather events.
There’s nothing extra out
there for recovery.
The last three years may
prompt some producers to
exit the sector altogether.
At what point do you stop
chewing up your equity and
call it quits?” he asks. “I think
this has given quite a few of
them a harsh reality that
maybe it is time to quit,
because there isn’t any extra
assistance coming.
That would be a loss for the
whole province, he adds.
What do we have to say to
get heard? It is kind of a small
industry dollar-wise, but were
also the backbone to
everything else, he says. “Its
frustrating when they can’t
see that.
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(1989)
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23390 RIVER ROAD, MAPLE RIDGE, BC V2W 1B6
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Learning to do
Members of the Okanagan Shuswap 4-H Lamb Club hosted a half-day workshop on judging this year at the
Luttmerding farm, one of only a few club events that went ahead with COVID-19 restrictions in place.
Senior members helped teach juniors how to judge horses, beef and sheep. The juniors also judged lambs
and ewes to complete that portion of their 4-H achievement. Club alumni Sydney Hogg helped with sheep
judging. Six members completed educational displays to complete the communications requirements of the
program as well.
PHOTO / MARSHALL LUTTMERDING
Vancouver Island
grain harvest
looks promising
Close to a dozen combines
bringing in the sheaves this fall
While producers in the Peace struggled to get their grain off, weather conditions proved ideal for Vancouver Island
grain farmers who can’t keep up with local demand for their crops. PHOTO / GEOFFREY E. GAUNT
20 | OCTOBER 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
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Dealer Name 1
Dealer Name 2
000.000.0000
www.dealer_url.com
34511 Vye Road
Abbotsford, BC V2S 8J7
604-864-2273
www.caliberequipment.ca
by MYRNA STARK LEADER
SAANICHTON – Bryce
Rashleigh began harvesting
his wheat and barley crops
mid-August on the Saanich
Peninsula just outside
Victoria. Rashleigh owns one
of nearly a dozen combines
that now call Vancouver
Island home as local grain
production has increased.
His John Deere, fitted with
a 24-foot header, will harvest
about 200 acres in total. No
field is bigger than about 35
acres. Last year, he put the
header on his mid-80s
machine nine times in one
day moving between fields.
He bought the combine
about 10 years ago from
Alberta, where it originally
belonged to the Pincher
Creek Hutterite Colony.
Good weather means that
Vancouver Island may deliver
one of the best grain crops in
the province this year. While
the region had just 635 acres
of wheat in 2016, up from
231 acres in 2011, this year’s
quality exceeds that of the
storm-tossed Peace region.
Rashleigh’s crop has seen
strong demand from both
bakers and brewers, though
he declines to name buyers
for competitive reasons.
Dan Reid, marketing
coordinator at Phillips
Brewing & Malting Co. in
Victoria, says Island farmers
will supply about half the
grain Phillips buys this year.
Grain has come from the
Saanich Peninsula; Cedar,
south of Nanaimo; and some
trial plots close to Campbell
River.
The island has been
making some great strides in
stepping up its supply
capabilities which we would
love to see continuing each
year, Reid said.
Reid notes that demand
outweighs current supply,
which has been stable from
year to year.
We'd love to be able to
get our hands on more
barley and rye if we were
able, says Reid. We've loved
working with local BC
farmers and look forward to
more and more fields coming
online in the future as the
quality has been consistently
stellar.
Phillips Fermentorium
Distilling Co., a side project of
the brewerys owners, used
entirely Vancouver Island-
grown grains last year.
The quality of the crop
yields really shines through
in both our brewing and
distilling programs here,
leading to higher quality
craft brews and spirits, says
Reid. We are proud to wave
the flag any day for our BC
grains partners.
Raquel Kolof accessed funding through the federal Emergency Processing Fund to build her small Class D abattoir
on the Sunshine Coast. She plans on applying for new funding to help her deal with tissue waste. PHOTO / SUBMITTED
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC OCTOBER 2020 | 21
Slaughter waste
receives fresh
funding
Tighter inspection protocols
revive funding allocated in 2005
by TOM WALKER
FALKLAND – The province
is providing $500,000 to help
BC abattoirs deal with waste
animal tissue following
slaughter.
This is great news, says
Nova Woodbury, executive
director of the BC Association
of Abattoirs, one of a number
of industry representatives
who advised the province on
the funding. All classes of
abattoirs in BC will be able to
take advantage of this. … It is
a real bonus as the cost of
waste disposal is going up
and the options for disposal
are going down.
The funds are the residue
of the $5 million Livestock
Waste Tissue Initiative the
province set up under the BC
Waste and Specied Risk
Material (SRM) Handling and
Disposal Strategy in 2005.
The strategy aimed to
support processors adapting
to new government
regulations regarding the
disposal of animal tissue
following BSE. A portion was
then made available to
municipalities and the
program has now been
“revitalized” to assist
processors.
SRM waste is regulated by
the Canadian Food Inspection
Agency, which denes it as,
The skull, brain, trigeminal
ganglia (nerves attached to
the brain), eyes, tonsils, spinal
cord and dorsal root ganglia
(nerves attached to the spinal
cord) of cattle aged 30
months or older; and the
distal ileum (portion of the
small intestine) of cattle of all
ages.
Greater record-checking by
the CFIA this year has
required meat plants to invest
in more sophisticated
weighing equipment and
upgraded interim storage
facilities at an added cost,
Woodbury explains.
Tighter regulation
compounds the challenges
posed by an ongoing lack of
disposal options in BC.
Very few landlls allow
disposal of SRM and even
fewer abattoirs have a permit
to bury SRMs on their
property, Woodbury explains.
A lot of SRM gets trucked to
Alberta either by West Coast
Reduction, by the abattoir
operator themselves, or an
approved third-party trucker.
But that is not cost-
eective for everyone. BCAA
members in the East
Kootenays drive it east
themselves, Woodbury notes.
Up to $40,000
The new funding program
will be administered by the
Investment Agriculture
Foundation of BC. It provides
up to $40,000 per applicant
to cover half the cost of
projects including
composting systems, cold
storage and transport
systems specically for
livestock waste tissue and
infrastructure upgrades
directly related to livestock
waste tissue disposal systems.
The project funding is not
limited to SRMs, but includes
all slaughter waste,
Woodbury notes. “Of course,
dealing with SRMs would be a
high priority for funding.
Woodbury says most of her
members will be applying.
“One processor I know
hopes to fund new weighing,
storage and transport
infrastructure so he can
dispose at his local landll,
she says. “I am talking to
another group who are
interested in a compost
system for non-SRM waste.
SRMs do not break down
with composting and must be
incinerated; the plant West
Coast Reduction operates in
Alberta is a co-generation
plant. However, a
co-generation plant is
expensive and there aren’t
enough processors in BC
generating SRMs to make
such a plant cost-eective.
All licensed abattoirs
located in BC are eligible to
apply for the funding, as well
as BC processors handling
SRM, not-for-prot
organizations representing
the abattoir and livestock
sectors and Indigenous
organizations with direct
connections to abattoirs and
meat processors.
Raquel Kolof recently
completed a Class D facility to
process her own animals at
Hough Heritage Farm on the
Sunshine Coast. The 10-acre
farm is a diversied operation
with chickens, Icelandic
sheep, Berkshire pigs and a
couple of Dexter cattle. Kolof
is president of the Sunshine
Coast Farmers Institute and a
member of the Small-Scale
Meat Producers Association.
Kolof credits IAFBC support
through the federal
Emergency Processing Fund
for helping her get the plant
built and she’ll be applying
under the new funding
program to help her deal with
tissue waste.
Tissue waste is a real
barrier for a small-scale on-
farm processing operation,
she says. “It smells, it attracts
wildlife and any leachate
causes problems.
Kolof is looking to
purchase an Earth Cube, a
small in-vessel hot
composting system
developed by Green
Mountain Technologies on
Bainbridge Island in
Washington, to handle her
tissue waste. She’ll still have
to nd a way to dispose of
the SRMs when shes ready to
slaughter her cattle.
“I’ll be able to turn my
waste into soil, which for me
is a key part of the
regenerative agriculture that I
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22 | OCTOBER 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
Ranchers threaten
litigation over
treaty negotiations
Governments refuse to disclose
impact on ranchers, communities
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC OCTOBER 2020 | 23
T
HE
HE BREED YOU CAN TRUST
Br
Br
it
it
ish
ish C
ol
olum
bia
bia
BCHA President
John Lewis
250-218-2537
* Fer琀lity * Eciency * Longevity *
www.
bc
bc
he
heref
or
ord.ca
BCHA Secretary
Janice Tapp
250-699-6466
by TOM WALKER
WILLIAMS LAKE – BC
ranchers are threatening to
sue for a seat at the
negotiating table to make
sure the federal and
provincial governments
consider their interests as
treaty negotiations continue
with First Nations in the
Cariboo.
We need a seat at the
negotiating table no matter
what, says Felix Schellenberg,
owner of Rafter 24 ranch in
Redstone, BC.
Together with three other
ranchers, Schellenberg is
prepared to take court action
in order to give ranchers a
voice.
“If it is litigation that will
get us there, then we will
have to do that, he says.
Two sets of negotiations
are taking place in the region.
One is working out the
Gwetsen Nilti Pathway
Agreement that outlines the
transition to Tsilhqot’in
Nation governance over
1,750 square kilometres west
of Williams Lake as the result
of a Supreme Court of
Canada decision in 2014. The
second is the treaty
negotiations with the
Northern Secwēpemc te
Qelmūcw (NStQ).
Schellenberg says Cariboo
residents are totally in the
dark about the NStQ
negotiations.
We have been working on
this for over six years, says
Schellenberg. “Members of
the public, the tourism
industry and agriculture have
sent hundreds of letters, but
both levels of government
refuse to respond in a
meaningful way.
This doesn’t sit well with
Schellenberg, who notes that
ranchers are some of the
largest employers in the
Cariboo.
These are elected
politicians supposedly
representing everyone’s
interests, he notes. When
they refuse to communicate,
you really start questioning
the whole system.
Long-standing concern
The issue is a long-
standing concern of the BC
Cattlemens Association.
We have been told that
we do not need
representation at the
negotiating tables, says Grant
Human, past chair of the
Indigenous Aairs Committee
of the BC Cattlemens
Association. There is no
transparency and it is dicult
to trust that our interests are
taken into account.
Human notes that the
two negotiation processes
are dierent. Negotiations
with the Tsilhqot’in Nation are
the result of a court order
declaring Aboriginal title in
favour of the Tsilhqot’in
Nation. The negotiations are
working out the details.
As they are wont to do,
the court did not give any
direction to the Crown or
First Nations as to how the
particulars of the settlement
would be carried out, says
Human. To my knowledge,
no one from the ranching
community has been privy to
those meetings.
Ranchers aren’t the only
ones aected by the
Tsilhqot’in decision.
There are a lot of other
users and landowners in the
area, notes Human. “Lodge
owners, guide outtters and
trappers all have Crown
tenure licences within the
area.
At the same time, treaty
negotiations with the NStQ
are now at the fth stage of
negotiation as part of the
ongoing treaty process with
the provincial and federal
governments. At the annual
meeting of the BCCA last
year, NStQ representatives
explained that they are
asking for 82,000 acres of
treaty settlement lands for
which they will receive full
ownership. Approximately
80% of that area has some
form of grazing licence or
tenure.
We have requested to
audit the NStQ negotiations
but that has never been
granted, Human says. We
have been told we don’t need
a representative there, that
the federal and provincial
governments represent us.
But is someone looking after
ranchers futures?”
Without representation,
cattlemen have no idea how
talks are proceeding and no
way to gauge possible
outcomes. This goes against
everything else involved in a
ranchers business, says Cordy
Cox, president of the Cariboo
Cattlemens Association.
“Ranchers manage risk
every day of the year as part
of their business, says Cox.
Whether it is the weather
and grass quality, animal
health, sales gures, the
futures market or the
Canadian dollar, risk
mitigation is key.
Without any indication of
See TREATY on next page
o
email: audreycifca@gmail.com
email: okanaganfeeders@gmail.com
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 $100,000.00 being interest free. Plus, interest relief through the Advance Payments Program is available
to association members on their feeder cattle purchases.
Long before the COVID-19 pandemic, Don and Leslie Richardson of Richardson Ranch on Haida Gwaii had
pretty much perfected both social distancing and online production sales. Their 11th annual online sale for
Tlell Polled Herefords, September 19-20, once again transcended borders with cattle and embryo sales
across the country and even to Germany. High seller was bred heifer Tlell 1Z Gwaii Girl 2G, above, who sold
to Alden and Colleen Voth of Vanderhoof for $4,500.00. The high selling bull calf, Tlell 617D Hardcopy 6H,
sold to Sheila and Martin Solmonson, also of Vanderhoof, for $3,700.00, and the high selling heifer calf, Tlell
6520 Marlie ET 4H, is Alberta bound, selling for $2,500.00 to Kevin Schaub of Leduc County. In all, 16 head
from the Tlell herd and guest consignor Copper-T Ranch averaged $2,956.00.
PHOTO / SUBMITTED
Sweet sale
24 | OCTOBER 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
the direction negotiations are
taking, ranchers can’t make
long-term business plans.
We don’t know if we will
have a grazing tenure; we
don’t know if we will have
water rights; we don’t know if
we will have access, Cox
notes.
Those points are all
considerations for the long-
term viability of a ranch, Cox
says.
A ranch is not worth much
without grazing licences or
water, she points out. This
lack of information about the
negotiations is extremely
frustrating to ranchers.
People are scared for their
future.
Both Human and Cox
point the nger at
governments.
“Our concern is not with
the First Nations, says Cox.
We live and work beside one
another all across the Cariboo
and they have told us that
they want us at the table.
TREATY nfrom pg 23
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by TOM WALKER
WILLIAMS LAKE – The Supreme
Court of Canada decision that
recognized the Tsilhqot’in Nations
claim of Aboriginal title over
approximately 1,750 square kilometres
west of Williams Lake also gave the
regions ranchers, lodge operators,
guide outtters and trappers a new
landlord.
The decision means Crown land in
the area is now held by the First
Nation, putting existing tenure holders
in limbo.
“No one is questioning the fact it is
their land to do as they see t, says
Grant Human, who is familiar with
the situation through his work as past
chair of the Indigenous aairs
committee of the BC Cattlemens
Association. “But what is the future for
those businesses? Will they be able to
continue to have access to their
former tenures? And if not, will there
be compensation?”
There are certainly funds available.
The federal government is providing
$55 million for Tsilhqot’in capacity
building and transition as part of its
recognition of Aboriginal title over the
lands.
We have always gone by the
principle of willing seller, willing
buyer, says Human. “I think the lodge
owners might be interested in being
bought out because they don’t think
there is a future there for them.
But that isn’t true for ranchers in the
area, he says.
“For a lot of ranchers, cash
compensation is not what they are
looking for. They are looking for an
ability to remain on their place but
have some kind of access to grazing,
he explains.
For the last six years, ranchers have
been granted temporary extensions of
their Crown tenures, but they have no
indication if extensions will continue
as they are not privy to any of the
negotiations.
“For a lot of ranchers, being bought
out would not be a solution of choice,
says Human. When it has been your
home for 75 years, you have invested
in ranch buildings and range
infrastructure, developed a herd that
knows and is suited to the
environment, how do you replace
that?”
Yet when two neighbours can sit
down and work things out, excellent
things can happen.
Cordy Cox, president of the Cariboo
Cattlemens Association, says an
example is the Xatśūll First Nation
(Soda Creek band), which recently
negotiated to purchase Carpenter
Mountain Ranch with provincial funds.
They did it on their own says Cox.
The rancher and the band worked it
out between themselves.
The Soda Creek Band is part of the
Northern Secwepemc te Qelmucw
(NStQ), which is in stage 5 of the treaty
process and are also seeking a large
area of title lands in the Cariboo.
The province purchased the ranch,
along with its Crown land range
tenure, cattle, hay and equipment for
$8 million. It is leasing the ranch to
Xatśūll First Nation until a treaty is
reached, at which point ownership will
transfer to the nation. The purchase
agreement also includes provision for
a grant towards the operating costs
for the ranchs rst year.
The purchase includes 3,890 acres
of deeded land, 280 acres of additional
pasture, more than 500 head of cattle,
extensive outbuildings and two
residences. The working ranch has
1,200 acres of hay production and
plenty of irrigation.
Tom Walker
Ranchers seek compensation for
Chilcotin land losses
Willing seller, willing buyer doesn’t always apply
For a lot of ranchers, being bought out would not
be a solution of choice. When it has been your
home for 75 years ... how do you replace that?
GRANT HUFFMAN
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Ranching in the blood: Renee Ardill, left, and granddaughter-in-law Karen McKean nd horses are still the best way
to get around their family's ranch in the Peace, established in 1920. The province recently recognized it as a
Century Farm, one of ve so honoured this year. SUBMITTED PHOTO
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC OCTOBER 2020 | 25
by MARGARET EVANS
FORT ST. JOHN – The Ardill
family is celebrating 100 years
of ranching in British
Columbia this year. They have
been raising cattle in the Fort
St. John area since 1920 where
they run 350 Hereford cows in
a cow/calf operation, 50 bulls
and 30 working Quarter
Horses on 36 sections. In
recognition of their
contribution and dedication
to BC agriculture, the family
was presented with the
Century Farm award.
Jack Ardill was born in
Ireland and immigrated to
Canada in 1909 at the age of
19.
“He worked in Cache Creek
as a surveyor for a while, says
Renee Ardill, Jack’s
granddaughter who now
manages the ranch. “He joined
the Canadian Army, served in
World War I, and was
wounded. While recovering he
met his wife [Betty] and
returned to Canada in 1919.
He had heard about the Peace
River country from a friend
who told him that if he
survived the war he should go
to the Peace.
On their return, they settled
in Hudsons Hope, then
moved to Edmonton where
their rst son, John, was born
in February 1920. That spring,
Jack scouted for land in the
Peace and found his dream.
On May 6, 1920, Jack and
Betty led a Homestead and
Soldiers Grant for the ranch
location, bringing with them
the essentials for
homesteading that included a
team of horses, a cow and calf,
some chickens, a plow, a
mowing machine and rake,
some furniture, a tent and a
year's grubstake (materials
and provisions).
The homestead grant and
the soldiers grant (for World
War I soldiers) were each a
quarter section, said Renee.
They started out with a half
section. They built ranch
boundaries. Other
homesteaders came in the
1930s and 1940s, but a bunch
of them didn’t stay. The reality
was dierent to what they
expected. Homesteading was
no picnic. Some were men
who left their families, came
here, and then brought the
wife in. She looked around
and said, ‘No way.
There were many reasons
they moved out. Grandpa
bought them out when they
left. They were opportunities
that presented themselves.
But a big chunk of the
sections is the grazing lease.
Over time, Jack and Betty
welcomed their daughter
Betty and sons Richard (Dick)
and Tom.
Today, the ranch is still
family-run and is almost
entirely self-sucient for food
for both the home and
livestock. Approximately 60%
of the total feed supply is put
up as grain and hay silage
while the balance is round
bales.
Horses remain an essential
part of ranch life. Some of the
rst Quarter Horses in the area
were brought to the ranch
from the Edmonton area and
they are the go-to transport to
access summer ranges,
manage cattle, range patrol,
salt packing, and the fall
gather.
Dick, along with wife Irene,
took over from Jack as ranch
manager in the early 1960s,
but retired about 10 years
ago. John also lived and
worked at the ranch with his
wife Beth until his death in
1996. Renee, Dick’s oldest
daughter, has taken over the
ranch manager role and lives
and works at the ranch along
with family members Karen
McKean (her granddaughter-
in-law), Don Ardill (grandson)
and Sorrel Schroeder (great-
grandson). In addition, Renee
is president of the BC
Cattlemens Association.
To an outsider, a ranchers
wealth is in cattle. But ask any
rancher how they dene
wealth and they’ll tell you it’s
the grassland.
The land is everything,
says Renee. “Its hard to
describe your connection.
Everything revolves around
the land. I have a friend who
visits. It was calving time. I
kept looking for the rst tiny
signs of growth. She
wondered what all the fuss
was about, then said, ‘I
suppose grass is pretty
important. I told her its
everything. Without grass you
have nothing.
Going forward, Rene
believes the cattle industry
has a good future. But
sometimes pressure comes
from urban people who do
not understand the industry,
the nature of cattle or their
environmental value.
They think cows are bad
but [the grazing habits of]
cows are really good for the
land, she says. We are trying
to change those
misperceptions.
Dick Ardill, Renees father,
says he is very grateful the
ranch is still in family hands.
“I’m thankful the family
wants to ranch, he says.
Although it may not be an
easy life, its a good life.
Ardill Ranch
receives Century
Farm award
Ranching has delivered a good
life to the Ardills since 1920
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Century Farm awards honour farm organizations that
have been active for a century or longer as well as
pioneers whose farms and ranches have been in families
for 100 years or more. Other farms that received the
award this year include Evans Farms just north of Dawson
Creek, Darby Farm near Stamp Falls Provincial Park, Miller
Farms in Pemberton Meadows and Bailey Farm in the
Nechako Valley.
—Margaret Evans
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26 | OCTOBER 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
Cattle have had a bad rap in recent years,
allegedly belching methane into the atmosphere
and contributing to global warming. But cattle have
a great deal more to oer than meat and gas. Their
grazing, holistically managed, can contribute to soil
health
that in
turn is
reected
in deeper
topsoil,
greater
natural
forage, healthy biodiversity, elimination of bare
ground and erosion, and more resilience to
drought, oods and extremes of weather. And, as a
bonus, healthy deep soils foster carbon
sequestration (a process in which carbon dioxide is
transferred from the atmosphere into the soil via
plants), helping mitigate climate change, the very
condition cattle are accused of contributing to in
the rst place.
Today, more and more ranchers are appreciating
that a sustainable approach to grazing cattle is the
foundation of what’s now known as regenerative
ranching, a set of practices that aims to rebuild
ecological processes and reduce ranchers’ reliance
on chemical herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers,
among other inputs. A recent study by researchers
at Oregon State University sought to understand
ranchers’ motivations and interests in regenerative
agriculture practices.
While some science suggests that regenerative
ranching can result in climate change mitigation
through carbon drawdown into soils, that is not
usually the driving factor behind ranchers’ decisions
to adopt the practice, said Hannah Gosnell, a
geography professor studying the human
dimensions of climate change in the College of
Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences at OSU.
Because ranchers using regenerative practices
were not dependent on expensive chemicals such
as fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, she said they
were less vulnerable to nancial pressures which, in
turn, increased their resilience. Improved water
retention, soil fertility and other benets motivate
ranchers to continue to use the regenerative
approach once they have adopted it through what
she calls self-amplifying positive feedbacks.
Benefits and challenges
To understand cattle managers’ motivations and
interests in this practice, Gosnell’s team interviewed
ranchers in the US and Australia about their
perceived benets and challenges.
They found that the transition to practicing full
regenerative ranching was often more dicult than
rst envisioned given that the farmers needed to
have not only an understanding of ecosystem
processes but also to shift to a new set of
management tools or procedures. But, for practical
reasons, farmers needed to see a direct benet back
to them at the farm management level. According
to those interviewed, the most frequent benets
were the increase and quality of deep ground cover,
greater forage production, improved water
retention and resilience to challenges like droughts
and oods.
Because the practice allowed them to cease or at
least reduce dependence on chemical applications,
there was a nancial gain which, in turn, fostered
condence to continue with regenerative practices.
As a result of their new practices, ranchers see
less bare ground, more native perennials, more
biodiversity and more forage for their cattle, all
without use of chemicals, said Gosnell. This inspires
them to continue with regenerative practices, which
then leads to more ecological improvement, better
economic returns and more positive feedback.
In the Kamloops area, Percy Folkard runs a 100-
head cow-calf operation on his Duckhill Ranch and
manages the land through regenerative ranching.
“I manage the land with as low input and low
intensity as possible to move animals around and
build soil as fast as I can, said Folkard. “I have hilly,
rocky, very poor productive land for haying, but I
have wonderful soils after a couple of years of
converting the ranch to grazing. I have not bought
any chemical products, ever. I have lush orchard
grass all year long.
Gosnell said that more than a third of the planet’s
ice-free land surface is used for livestock grazing, an
essential livelihood for millions of farmers. But
conventional practice is considered a source of
greenhouse gas emissions. With increased soil
health and the potential to boost carbon
sequestration, ranchers can both mitigate and
adapt to climate change in the future.
There are about a dozen or more ranchers who
are doing interesting things and we are all kind of
learning together as we go through this, said
Folkard. We are pushing for soil health in our area,
sharing what we are doing, and getting a baseline
for carbon in our soil, for example. We have a lot of
Indigenous communities that had regenerative
food systems before we came along with our
colonialized model and we are seeing a lot of their
values and their philosophies aligning with
regenerative principles in food systems. You’re
thinking of the landscape as a whole. Its a big
vision. It takes science to get there but there is a
movement in that direction.
The OSU study was published in The Journal of
the Royal Society Interface.
Regenerative ranching counters climate change
Cattle not only belch greenhouse gases, they can help sequester them, too
Research
by MARGARET EVANS
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Cousins Corne, left, and Paul Moerman grew up and into the family’s greenhouse operation. When they ofcially
joined the business, they started a grading and packing business and now grow, grade and sell their peppers
under the Windset Farm label. PHOTO / RONDA PAYNE
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC OCTOBER 2020 | 27
by MYRNA STARK LEADER
SURREY – With locations in
Surrey and Delta, Sunnyside
Produce Ltd. has steadily
grown its greenhouse pepper
operation to more than 70
acres in the past 25 years.
With annual production of
more than 10,000 tonnes, it’s
among the largest pepper
producers in BC.
Its a notable achievement
for what began as a ve-acre
operation established by
cousins Jos and Bram
Moerman. The business is still
family-run but a succession
planning exercise in 2017 has
brought Joss son Corne and
Brams son Paul on board. The
younger cousins are set to
take over the entire operation
in three years, cementing
their place as fourth-
generation growers.
Jos and Bram Moerman
each owned half of separate
greenhouses in Holland. Both
of them sold to their partners
and moved to start life in
Canada, initially setting up a
greenhouse in Abbotsford in
1996.
They wanted a new
opportunity and a change of
lifestyle, says Corne who was
10 at the time. “Holland has a
dense population and trac
jams…There was another
family from Holland that had
moved to BC so they visited
them and decided to move.
Sunnyside Produce, as it’s
known today, grew steadily. It
relocated to Surrey in 2006,
then in 2012 opened another
location in Delta.
We added 14 acres [of ]
new greenhouses in 2018 and
planned for this years
expansion of another 14 long
before COVID-19 so, luckily,
everything is going as
planned, says Corne.
It wasn’t a surprise when
Corne got involved in
growing early on. Both his
grandfather and the great-
grandfather he and Paul share
were in the greenhouse
business.
“Every holiday, pro-d day
o school, Christmas, or if we
didn’t do a family vacation,
we were always working on
the farm, he says. We had a
roadside stand and dad gave
me a few rows of tomatoes at
the beginning of the season
and I was responsible for all
the work with those plants.
Suspecting he may like to
continue the family
greenhouse tradition, he went
to Holland after high school.
For six months, he worked for
three dierent greenhouses.
Thats where I realized that
this is what I want to do.
Theres something new going
on every day, says Corne, now
33. He joined the family
business in 2008, along with
his cousin, after attending
Kwantlen Polytechnic
University for two years.
Succession done right
While their fathers focused
on the production side, Corne
and Paul were given the
responsibility of starting a
pepper grading and packing
business. Previously, all their
product had gone to BC Hot
House. They began grading
for themselves and then for
others under the name
Sunnyside Grading.
We hired our own labour
and leased the business from
our fathers. That’s how we
learned the business side,
explains Paul, who is also 33.
That business and two
others were eventually folded
into todays single company
which produces and grades
peppers for the Canadian and
US markets. Theyre sold by
Windset Farms. While it’s
important to feed Canadians,
Corne estimates about 60% of
their production goes to the
far larger US market in
California.
In 2020, to continue to
diversify the operation, along
with bell and mini pointed
peppers, they started growing
red, orange and chocolate-
coloured sweet tooth
peppers. The long narrow
peppers have the highest
sugar content of any sweet
pepper. Theyre a hit with
consumers and garner a
higher price, oering more
stable returns. There’s less
price uctuation than with
bell peppers and the dierent
products work well together.
For example, mini pointed
peppers produce more
steadily, compared to the full-
size bells. This helps even out
bell production which shifts
between weeks of huge
production followed by
slower growing times.
But smaller peppers are
also more work. More
peppers means more hand-
picking. To meet labour needs
during peak times, the
company employs about 80
full-time workers from Mexico,
60 local contract labourers
and 20 hired sta.
Foreign workers are hired
through the Seasonal
Agricultural Worker Program,
which Sunnyside has
participated in for 13 years,
starting with two employees.
Normally, these workers arrive
in mid-March, mid-April and
mid-May and stay for eight
months. This year’s rst
arrivals were delayed by about
a month due to COVID-19
A new generation keeps the family greenhouse growing
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travel restrictions. However,
their returning workers were
ready with the necessary
paperwork when charter
ights were allowed to land in
April.
We really rely on them.
They aren’t just doing the
simple roles anymore. They
have computer jobs and are
forklift operators, Paul
explains.
Replacing human labour
with technology like
harvesting robots may be
considered in the future but
right now robots are still too
slow. They also require
See GOOD on next page
o
Corne and Paul Moerman among Canada’s top young growers
1-888-770-7333
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GOOD succession planning makes greenhouse expansion worthwhile nfrom page 27
28 | OCTOBER 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
greenhouses to be
congured a certain way
for optimal benets.
“I went to Yakima in early
January to visit one of the
newest/biggest apple
facilities and to see where
our boxes are being
produced. They had some
cool machinery and it’s
really impressive, but you
have to be a certain size for
the purchase to make
nancial sense. Our
equipment is mostly from
2008, says Corne.
The family is excited for
completion of the latest
addition, hoping it will
yield the same production
and quality peppers grown
in their 2018 expansion.
That build also included
new oce space and
additional foreign worker
housing – all of it paid for
with company earnings
and bank nancing.
Similar to breaking new
ground for expansion, the
family members have also
had to cultivate their
working relationships
through succession.
Cornes dad went out on
his own from his father
much sooner than Corne has so it’s been a learning process.
Today, each of the fathers and sons has their own responsibilities and tasks,
enabling each to have individual identities in the company. However, they keep
the lines of communication open by holding a group meeting every two weeks,
whether there are two items to discuss or 10.
“You need to make the
time even though
everyone is busy, Corne
stresses. “These meetings
help us to be on the same
page, focus on things like
long-term goals, while
staying out of each others
way day-to-day.
Community outreach
While internal
communication may be
key, the owners also
believe in educating the
community. They host
school tours and an annual
open house to encourage
the public to learn where
their food originates.
Theyre regular participants
in the annual BC
Greenhouse Veggie Days
promotion, but this year
they participated in a video
series instead.
We show people inside
the greenhouse, the boiler
room, the irrigation room
and we try to answer all
their questions, says Corne.
“Its rewarding for us to see
people who are interested
and want to know more.
As for the future
generation, Cornes
daughters, age 2 and 5, already spend time in the greenhouse, but it’s still too
early to tell if they’ll carry on the family tradition. His brother and sister weren’t
interested.
Asked if he ever gets sick of eating peppers, Corne replies, To be honest, I
probably don’t eat enough.
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Kwantlen Polytechnic University instructor Gary Jones was instrumental in cousins Corne, left, and Paul Moerman being
named one of the Four under Forty greenhouse growers in Canada. Jones got to know the family when Corne attended
KPU’s greenhouse vegetable production program. Both honoured and humbled by the award, Corne says it feels good
when people you don’t know recognize your work. PHOTO / RONDA PAYNE
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC OCTOBER 2020 | 29
Hazelnut growers
on the lookout for
invasive stink bug
Annual surveys have found the
bug throughout the Fraser Valley
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CHILLIWACK – After ve years leading the organization and the industry through the
rebuilding process that followed Eastern Filber
t Blight, outgoing president Neal teBrinke
passed the gavel to Steve Hope during the annual general meeting of the BC Hazelnut
Growers Association on September 15.
Hope is fairly new to the hazelnut industry but has been very involved for the past six
years as one of the owners of Fraser Valley Hazelnuts, a receiving station, processor and
grower in Chilliwack. Hope has a background in sales and marketing and is looking to
move the organization forward as the grower base broadens beyond the Fraser Valley and
adopts new technologies.
Two projects the organization plans to pursue include establishing a coordinator
position to bring extra value and outreach to members, and a virtual eld day. The eld
day will take the form of a video series with topics of timely interest to members.
The video series will be viewable any time, says Hope. We are going to use technology
in place to help us reach our goals moving forward and to provide a meeting place for
everybody.
BC Ministry of Agriculture hazelnut industry specialist Karina Sakalauskas reported that
the nal intake for the BC Hazelnut Renewal Program received 11 applications for the fall
planting. These included applications for removing old trees and some for replanting with
new varieties.
The meeting was held via videoconference and attrac
ted members from as far away as
Vancouver Island and the Okanagan.
by BARBARA JOHNSTONE GRIMMER
ABBOTSFORD – Brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) are in
many hazelnut orchards in Oregon and processors are
reporting damage to the nut, according to Nik Wiman, an
entomologist and orchard extension specialist at Oregon State
University who discussed the risks BC growers face at the Pacic
Agricultural Show in Abbotsford last January.
“BMSB feeds through the hard shell, right into the nut, says
Wiman. “It is something to look out for.
BC Ministry of Agriculture entomologist Tracy
Hueppelsheuser is doing just that.
Hueppelsheuser and her team from the Plant and Animal
Health Branch have been looking for BMSB on Fraser Valley
hazelnut farms. The pest, native to Asia, was rst seen in Oregon
in 2004 and spotted in Chilliwack and the Okanagan in 2015.
To scout for BMSB, sticky traps baited with pheromones were
set out in 2019 from May to September in 12 locations from
Abbotsford to Agassiz and checked regularly. When bugs were
found in traps, “beat sheets” were used to look for adults and
nymphs in summer and fall. Nuts were collected on three dates
in September from two orchards that had BMSB activity.
We found BMSB present in all of the areas we checked, but
not all of the farms had BMSB on the traps, says
Hueppelsheuser. “On some farms we found nymphs, indicating
that the bugs are established there. Two elds had enough nuts
for us to collect and evaluate for suspect damage. We did nd
that 1% to 6% of the nuts had some corking, which looks similar
to what we expect the BMSB damage to look like.
The province continues to survey for BMSB in hazelnut
orchards, and is evaluating nuts for damage.
We are concerned that damage could increase in the next
few years in BC, says Hueppelsheuser.
One hope is that the Samurai wasp, a natural pr
edator of
BMSB, may help to naturally control this damaging invader. The
Samurai wasp was accidentally introduced as well, and was rst
recorded in Vancouver, Washington in 2015, Portland, Oregon in
2016, and Chilliwack in 2018. There are eorts underway by
both Hueppelsheuser and federal researcher Paul Abram of the
Agassiz Research and Development Centre to nd and
propagate the wasp. Abram is the lead on the importation of
the Samurai wasp as a biological control agent.
Hueppelsheuser is also on the watch for lbertworm,
trapping and looking for larval damage in nuts.
“Luckily, we did not nd any, which is good news she says.
This insect does occur in BC but has not ever caused
signicant problems to BC hazelnuts that I am aware of. It is a
signicant pest in Oregon.
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Greater outreach on the agenda for future
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Trading nancial stability for quality of life, Chelsea and James Keenan relocated their young family from the Lower Mainland to 35 acres outside of
Salmon Arm to start a new farm business that meets the demand of consumers interested in buying local. PHOTO / JACKIE PEARASE
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC OCTOBER 2020 | 31
by JACKIE PEARASE
SALMON ARM – When
Chelsea and James Keenan
traded city life for farm life
four years ago, the plan was to
provide easy access to the
fruits of their labour.
We knew we had to make
the farm convenient to people
because it’s just the way the
world is going. You can order
pretty much anything to your
door. You have to be able to
catch those people now. We
had to make it as convenient
as possible, explains James of
Keenan Family Farms vision.
While still in their early 30s
with four children under the
age of ve, the couple left
Surrey and bought 35 acres of
forested, hilly property in the
Yankee Flats area south of
Salmon Arm.
They are now raising ve
children alongside laying
hens, sheep and pigs while
building and improving the
farm.
This style of farm –
pasture-raised animals – was a
niche we knew we could get
into and that we knew we
could excel in based on the
amount of work we would be
able to put into it. Knowing
that it wasn’t going to be easy
but that we were up for it,
says Chelsea.
They came to farm life with
no experience, just
information from books and a
desire to provide their family
with a dierent lifestyle. James
was working long hours as a
supervisor and Chelsea found
it dicult raising a large family
in the city.
The sold everything, left a
good paying job, family and
friends and embraced the
unknown.
“Our No. 1 priority was to
be together and raise our
family together and teach our
kids about what it takes to
live, to survive, to work,
Chelsea says. “I guess our
driving factor was raising our
family somewhere with
intention.
And we needed space,
adds James. “I just traded
seven days a week for eight
days a week, basically.
The sale of a rental
apartment in New
Westminster covered the
majority of the purchase price
and, with savings in hand,
they set out a two-year plan
to get the farm up and
running.
They started with pasture-
raised broiler chickens – a
plan they do not recommend
to new farmers – before
settling on eggs alongside
pork and lamb sales.
Now going into year ve,
land covered with sulphur
cinquefoil has been improved
using sheep to eat the
noxious weed, pigs to dig up
the soil after and chickens to
fertilize it.
With the pigs, the chickens
and the sheep, we’ve been
able to sustain some growth
and I think next year is when
we really will see the fruits of
the trial, Chelsea says. We
want to improve the land, we
want to raise meat for our
community and we want to
do it together as a family.
Learning from their
mistakes and seeking advice
from other farmers, the couple
have created a farm and
lifestyle they are proud of.
They have traded nancial
stability for quality of life.
Were not going to get rich
o this farm but we are rich in
life skills and laughter, whether
were laughing at ourselves or
each other. Its such a good
lifestyle for families, notes
Chelsea. The long term of it is
we learn something. We’ve
learned so much already but
that we learn together, we live
together, we do life together.
They have forged a network
of friendships with other
young farmers that has helped
them learn and nd their spot
in agriculture.
“Exchanging information is
huge within the farming
community, Chelsea says. “I
don’t nd there is that
competition factor. The pie is
big enough for us all to take a
piece and the more we can
collaborate with each other, I
think that’s good.
With a background in
software development,
Chelsea quickly established an
online presence with a
website and social media
followers on Facebook and
Instagram.
First-gen farmers plot a vision for success
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FARM has expansion plans nfrom page 31
32 | OCTOBER 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
These eorts put them in a
good place this year when
the pandemic hit and
agricultural producers were
scrambling to nd ways to
sell their products.
We are farming like the
old guys but were also trying
to keep up to the future of
click-and-get, explains
Chelsea. We were already
doing delivery, we already
had an online store, we
already had the details sorted
out.
Those details include an
egg delivery program for 100
dozen eggs every two weeks
for Salmon Arm customers
and meat ordered online and
delivered to the door in
Salmon Arm and the Lower
Mainland.
About 70% of their product
goes to the coast, with the
remainder going to local
delivery and farmers’ market
customers.
They have always sold out
of stock since starting the
farm but still hold back some
product for their local
farmers market customers.
They hope to raise 200 pigs next year and a good working relationship with
Rangeland Meats in Heey Creek allows them to book processing to the end
of 2021.
Plans also include building a winter shelter for the Berkshire, Tamworth and
Duroc pigs that roam the forested portion of the property and another for the
Dorper and Sussex sheep that graze about 28 acres of hillside pasture. A
freezer room is in the works and James used his carpentry skills to construct a
hay barn this year.
They are ready to invest in farm infrastructure now, after four years of using
duct tape and zap straps for
construction, because they
know what they want.
We hit a path where there
is success in the future and
we can invest in that success
stream, explains Chelsea.
They say having their
animals Certied Animal
Welfare Approved by A
Greener World has helped
them build a strong
customer base.
That was important to us
because it gave our
consumers condence that,
as a rst-generation farm,
were not just winging it, says
Chelsea. We’ve got a set of
guidelines that we go by and
those guidelines are
researched.
Cross-breeding has
strengthened their stock
while pasture-raising and
non-GMO feed results in
tasty product that keeps
people coming back.
James says some long-
time farmers think their
prices are too high but he
believes changes in farming
and peoples relationship with food justify the price.
“Everyone always paid so little because everyone knew a farmer but now
you have to account for all the cost increases. More people are willing to
spend the money on it, he explains. “I think the old farmers, they could raise
their prices, too.
The journey has been hard but the Keenans have no regrets about their
choice. Chelsea says others wanting to make change need only take the leap
of faith.
“You’ve got to gure out a way to just jump in, give yourself a certain
amount time to make the money and go from there, she says.
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These Berkshire pigs, as well as Tamworth and Duroc breeds, are among the livestock raised at Keenan Family
Farms. PHOTO / JACKIE PEARASE
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC OCTOBER 2020 | 33
by MYRNA STARK LEADER
SUMMERLAND – The new
director of the federal
government’s two research
stations in BC has come full
circle.
“I wanted to end my career
going back to my roots as a
research scientist, says Rachid
El Had.
Appointed research,
development and technology
director of the Agassiz and
Summerland research stations
in February after a seven-
month hiring process, El Had
has a world of relevant
experience.
He obtained a Masters in
Agricultural Sciences from
L'Institut Agronomique et
Vétérinaire Hassan II in his
native Morocco in 1989. As a
young research scientist there,
he focused on soil and water
conservation as well as crop
management. The topics
remain highly relevant in BC
30 years later.
“I was instrumental in the
introduction of no-till to
Morocco, explains El Had
over a Zoom call from his
Summerland oce.
In 1996, after leading the
establishment of a state-of-
the-art gene bank in Morocco,
he pursued a doctorate in
crop science, examining
drought resistance in wheat at
Colorado State University.
Then, he travelled with his
future wife to her home in
Ecuador. There, he taught
agronomy and horticulture at
Universidad San Francisco, a
private liberal arts institution
in the capital city, Quito.
The couple relocated to
Canada in February 1999,
landing in Edmonton on a
shocking -31° C day, he recalls.
He became a post-doctoral
research associate working on
forage crop agronomy at the
University of Alberta. He led
the rst northern Alberta crop
diversication program at
Beaverlodge, Agriculture
Canadas most northerly
agricultural research station.
We did a lot to introduce
crops like hemp, camelina,
peas, lentils, fava bean and
chickpeas to growers, he says,
mentioning Canadas place as
a top world pulse exporter
with pride.
Business development,
market research and
agriculture policy creation
work followed. It included
time at Western Economic
Diversication in Edmonton
where he gained program
development and evaluation
skills working on programs
like Community Futures,
Francophone Community
Economic Development,
Western Canada Business
Service Network and the
Women’s Enterprise Initiative.
Then, Alberta’s agriculture
New research director puts people first
El Hafid envisions greater national roles for BC research centres
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department drew him back.
He spent seven years liaising
directly with crop and
livestock commodity groups
on policy and regulatory
issues.
That job really allowed me
to understand the issues of
the industry, he comments.
As scientists, we need to keep
our feet on the ground with
farmers to really understand
the issues.
While there, he also
graduated with an MBA in
International Business from
the University of Alberta.
Prior to landing in
Summerland, he led the
Alberta Ministry of Economic
Development and Trades
strategy development on
clean technology. With a $225
million budget, his team
developed six programs
under the clean tech umbrella,
enabling him to further
broaden his networks in
business, science and
academia.
With all his experiences, it’s
no surprise El Had names
continuous learning as one of
his drivers. But equally, if not
more important, he believes
in relationship-building,
collaboration, listening and
partnerships. He’s ultra-
approachable and frequently
mentions specic scientists
and their projects at his new
centres during.
“I believe in the team spirit
and that we are here to help
each other … everyone is
important from the
eldworker to the top
scientist, El Had explains. “I
don’t compromise on quality
and excellence in the work
but I do my best to give
people the support and the
resources they need.
This approach commands
the respect of his fellow
scientists.
“Hes compassionate and
empathetic. He really trusts
the scientists and solicits our
input. He genuinely tries to
understand the work that we
do, says entomology research
scientist Chandra Moat, who
works at Summerland.
“He spent his rst month
going to grower meetings and
getting to know us, she adds,
saying a people-person as a
See LONG-TERM on next page
o
Rachid El Had is the new director of research, development and technology for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s research stations in
Agassiz
and Summerland. PHOTO / MYRNA STARK LEADER
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34 | OCTOBER 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
leader is welcome, particularly in
uncertain times.
El Had had barely had the chance
to warm his new chair when the
COVID-19 pandemic struck, forcing
him to adjust operations to keep sta
and collaborators safe. Summerland
employs about 170 people and
Agassiz approximately 90 people.
All projects and activities that
didn’t require physical presence in
laboratories and elds continued
from the pandemic’s onset. There has
been a staggered approach for
resuming projects requiring physical
presence, starting rst by
maintaining Agriculture and
Agri-Food Canada land and
infrastructure, followed by
conducting time-sensitive eld
research. The centres are only now
reintegrating lab and greenhouse
work into their operations, and these
are happening in accordance with
strict safety protocols.
“I am really pleased with how we
worked with industry through
COVID, says El Had of the cautious,
pragmatic approach the centres implemented. We
kept the communication channels open. Everything
we do here is 100% for agriculture. They understood
where we are coming from, maintaining the safety of
our team and also trying to keep advancing the
science.
Now, as things begin to normalize, he sees himself
refocusing on looking after the operations of two of
the countrys 20 federal research centres across
Canada and co-leading the national horticulture
sectors science strategy. The strategy is being
developed in consultation with various internal and
external stakeholders and is aimed at setting the
directions and priorities for federal agricultural
science and technology.
“I am here to serve and to help not just sta but
also our clients and the industry. I want to bring our
uniqueness to the national stage. I want to build our
reputation provincially, nationally and internationally,
says El Had, who seems a natural born marketer.
One way to remain relevant is for scientists and
researchers to share their stories more often, in
words audiences relate to and understand. For
example, scientists are now being asked to provide
an easy-to-read, plain-language summary of their
work to accompany their scientic reports.
Another is inviting Summerland and Agassiz
scientists to sit on or speak at national or
international committees and
conferences, or inviting senior ocials
for visits to see the work occurring at
the centres.
It also means reaching out to his
old networks and building new ones.
In spite of COVID-19 and a bit of
chaos, hes already met with many key
academics at UBC and industry
players. He currently co-chairs three
government-industry steering
committees, including the Grape and
Wine Cluster, the berry production
group within the Lower Mainland
Horticultural Improvement Association
and the apple-cherry group of the BC
Fruit Growers Association.
He also sees long-term
opportunities for Agassiz on the
national stage. Given its unique
location, he envisions further
development as a centre for peri-
urban agriculture excellence. El Had
can see the model being adopted in
other provinces. He names Alberta
with cattle and Manitoba with pork
production as examples where urban
centres and agriculture are
intersecting more often. He also sees opportunities
for Summerland to continue as a centre of
excellence for viticulture, a worldwide centre of
excellence for cherry and apple breeding, and also in
emerging elds such as bio-informatics, big data,
and articial intelligence.
El Had says his new job is a great blend of
leadership, research, academia and agriculture. And
hes determined to nurture and strengthen
relationships with the centres partners, particularly
industry.
We can grow together by helping each other. My
door is always open. If anyone wants to talk about
opportunities, lets make it work, lets talk, he says.
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Rachid El Had’s approach to leadership is about nurturing relationships. “My door is
always open,” he says. PHOTO / MYRNA STARK LEADER
Grant McMillan of Integrated Crop Management Services displays how a custom-made tarp cover can work
to keep fresh-picked blueberries from overheating in the eld. PHOTO / RONDA PAYNE
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC OCTOBER 2020 | 35
by RONDA PAYNE
ABBOTSFORD – Reective
tarps created for use in the
forestry industry rst made
their way to cherries and are
now nding their sweet spot
with Fraser Valley blueberries
to help improve quality.
A study launched this year
with funds from the BC
Agriculture and Food Climate
Action Initiative set out to see
if this relatively low-cost tool.
Its the rst widespread use of
the tarps in the Fraser Valley
and may be a solution to help
growers address rising
temperatures caused by
climate change.
The tarps keep berry
temperature from increasing
and may even help reduce it
as the silver layer inside
absorbs the heat. The heat
moves through the tarp and
is released through the white
exterior layer. This prevents
fruit from heating up while
waiting for cooling, packing
and processing.
Tarps were provided free to
growers to try them out.
Grant McMillan, regional
manager with Integrated
Crop Management Services in
Abbotsford, coordinated
assessment of the tarps’
impact on blueberries. Key
datapoints hes collecting
include fresh weights, dry
weight and fruit temperatures
with correlating daily
temperatures.
One of the rst things
McMillan noted was the tarp,
in its existing at sheet form,
wasn’t as functional as it
could be.
This year, we identied
that a big at tarp is hard to
deal with in the eld, he says.
This led to the creation of a
pallet cover stitched like a
toaster cover with four sides
and a top. There are two sizes,
one for seven layers of lug
totes and one for four layers
of lug totes.
As you’re picking the eld,
you put [berries] on the
pallet, then slip this on,
McMillan says of the pallet
covers.
Additionally, scraps of
Reflective tarps piloted in FV blueberries
Growers find multiple uses and
formats can benefit fruit quality
fabric were used by the
manufacturer, Vernon-based
Bushpro Supplies Inc., to
create individual lug covers
for use by pickers in the eld.
Alf Krause of Krause Berry
Farms and Estate Winery had
the tarps previously, but only
began using them regularly
with development of the
pallet covers. He sees the
tarps as another tool in
helping to improve blueberry
quality.
“I like them better than just
the plain at ones. Theyre
easy to use, he explains. We
always work hard to get
[berries] out of the eld as
fast as we can anyway, but
things happen. Its a nice
[tool] to keep the quality. We
don’t rely on these things but
they are an aid.
He adds that keeping the
tarps clean is important
because they may touch the
fruit. They can also serve
additional purposes, such as
keeping containers clean and
protecting the fruit from rain.
“Its nice to cover your fruit
so it doesn’t get environmental
exposure, he says.
Functionality
Some growers don’t have
all the machinery and
equipment that makes
picking and transport easier.
Many just use a pick-up truck
and a pallet. McMillan
reached out to Wayne
Goodwin of Goodwin’s
Greenhouses Ltd. in
Abbotsford for an alternative
suitable for smaller growers
that would bring the tarps
functionality to their systems.
We went out to see a few
growers so I could see what
they really need, Goodwin
says. We have a couple of
ideas in the works so
hopefully we can satisfy the
demand and keep it simple.
Aordability is important.
One of the options Goodwin
is developing is like a
Tonneau cover for a pick-up
that can be rolled out to
cover the fruit.
McMillan estimates the
retail cost of the tarps at $75
to $100. The lifespan is ve
years or longer. Its a good
investment when, as he
suspects, fruit will lose 3% to
5% of its weight through
evaporation on a hot day. At
$1 a pound, losing ve
percent on 700 pounds would
mean a $35 loss that could be
avoided by using the tarps.
He expects to have results
of the seasons trials to
growers before year end.
“Quality is going to
become more important
going forward. It gives a
competitive edge, he says.
Were not going to solve
everyone’s issues all at once.
You eat an elephant one bite
at a time.
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Research and practical demonstrations show that
light reecting materials improve colouring and enhance
product quality when apples are harvested at the proper
ripeness (e.g. not overripe due to delays in harvest to
attain higher colour saturation).
July 31, 2020 is the deadline for submitting
project applications for 2020 purchases.
The program will be available until 2022 to encourage
early adoption of light reecting materials.
Program policies, requirements, and application form
are on the NVDC website:
www.nvdc.ca
This project is supported by The BC Government’s Tree Fruit Competitiveness Program;
delivered by The BC Fruit Growers’ Association and The Investment Agricutlure Foundation of BC.
E\nKi\\=il`kMXi`\k`\j
;\m\cfgd\ek:fleZ`cEM;:
The program will be available until 2022
to encourage early adoption
of light reflecting materials.
36 | OCTOBER 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
Agricultural Environmental Management
Code of Practice
Nutrient management plan requirements for six more high-risk areas now in effect
As of July 15, 2020, six more vulnerable aquifer recharge areas have been phased-in
for nutrient management plan (NMP) requirements: Abbotsford, Cobble Hill, Grand
Forks, Langley, Osoyoos and Spallumcheen.
If you are operating in these areas, you will need an NMP for the spring of 2021 if you:
have a livestock or poultry operation with five or more animal units,
have a total agricultural land base of five hectares or more,
apply nutrients (e.g., manure or fertilizers) to your land, and
have a post-harvest nitrate soil test result of 100 kg N/ha or more.
If your agricultural operation is in the Hullcar Aquifers high-risk area you continue to
require an NMP if you:
have an agricultural land base of five hectares or more,
apply nutrients to land, and
have a post-harvest nitrate soil test result of 100 kg N/ha or more.
For more information and to find out if you are located in a vulnerable aquifer
recharge area visit our interactive map at: gov.bc.ca/Agricultural-Environmental-
Management, or contact AEMCoPenquiries@gov.bc.ca for any questions.
by PETER MITHAM
ABBOTSFORD – BC is home
to the second-largest cluster
of mushroom producers in
Canada, producing nearly
62,197 tons in 2019 worth
$208 million. This is triple what
the province produced in
2004, when the BC Mushroom
Marketing Board came to an
end and the provinces 77
growers began competing,
consolidating and expanding.
Today, there are just ve
growers, including some of the
continent’s largest players:
Pennsylvania-based South Mill
Mushroom Sales Inc., which
acquired Champs Mushrooms
in 2018, and Highline Produce
Inc. of Leamington, Ontario,
which owns All Seasons
Mushrooms Inc. The majority
of the countrys production –
40,000 tons – is exported each
year. But ironically, 22,500 tons
come back into the country,
much of it as canned product.
“Its cheaper for our canners
in this country to buy a can
from China with no label and
put a label on it than to buy
mushrooms here, says Mike
Manion, principal of
agribusiness consulting rm
Agrisco Supplies Corp.
Manion, a former executive
with Moneys Mushrooms – a
venerable BC producer now
reduced to a mushroom brand
– is a big believer in the
potential of mushrooms, and
outlined the opportunities for
producers during the Pacic
Agriculture Show last winter.
When Moneys existed, he
said, consumption in BC
averaged 5.2 pounds per
person. Today, its fallen to 3.5
pounds per person, which is
about half what it is in the US.
But the value of production
has increased signicantly, due
in part to growing production
of specialty varieties.
Back in 1987, he said, 85%
of producers grew the familiar
white button mushroom that
continues to be a mainstay of
fresh sales in the province
today. Just 15% were growing
specialty varieties. Today, the
proportions have almost
ipped, with white button
mushrooms accounting for
24% of the industry while
specialty producers dominate
the sector.
Stoyan Petrov of Comox
Valley Mushrooms Inc. in
Courtenay is an example of
the new breed of producers
entering the market. Speaking
just before Manions
presentation, he showed how
hes developed a small-scale
mushroom farm while
avoiding some of the
challenges dogging larger
commercial producers.
The reason its special is
because ... sales of mushrooms
take place in the commercial
mushroom market every day
but Christmas day, Manion
said. You have to harvest
every SKU every day.
Moreover, the product is
perishable and consumer
demand shifts, meaning
producers have to tightly
manage quality, delivery
schedules and anticipate
consumer demand.
And then theres labour.
“Now that you’ve got your
sales demand that you’re
working on daily, you’ve got
your growing team focused on
giving you the right SKU on
the right day, … now you’ve
got to make sure your labour
is there on the day so that
your picking window is six to
eight hours, he said.
The work doesn’t pay
minimum wage. Recent job
ads show wages starting at
$15 an hour, and skilled
pickers can easily earn $25 an
hour. According to a 2017
study by the Canadian
Agriculture Human Resource
Council, 73% of workers on
mushroom farms are domestic
workers but Manion said the
industrys reliance on foreign
workers is growing.
The majority are
Vietnamese. And you’ll also
notice that most of them are
probably over 60 years old, he
said. The next generation,
none of them are picking
mushrooms. We are totally
reliant on oshore labour.
Technology Brewing Corp.
of Salmon Arm won the
provinces Agritech Innovation
Challenge last year with its
proposal for a robotic
mushroom harvester, but the
idea remains in the very early
stages.
“Its going to be years
before that’s scalable for a
farm, but if were to have a
surviving mushroom industry,
that has to work, he said.
When you’ve got to rely on
outside help, it’s a tough slog.
Yet the steady demand for
mushrooms, and
opportunities for innovation,
mean producers have room to
carve out their niche whether
as small, specialty producers
or large growers. The market is
there for growers to build,
Manion believes.
There is an opportunity for
focusing, for someone who
wants to do a lot of marketing
of mushrooms in BC, he said.
Specialty mushroom growers come into their own
Specialty production expands while BC mushroom growers consolidate
Seeking
insights
A mandatory industry
survey by Statistics
Canada earlier this year
notes that BC is driving
growth in Canadian
mushroom production.
“Growers harvested
29.3% more area and sold
19.2% more mushrooms
than in 2018, reports
Statistics Canada.
Canada produced
145,631 tons of
mushrooms in 2019, with
BC growers producing
62,197 tons. BC accounts
for nearly 43% of
mushroom production in
Canada. The BC crop was
worth nearly $208 million
in 2019.
BC production is
concentrated in the
Lower Mainland. Ontario
is the other major
production region,
producing which
produces 50.5% of
Canadas mushrooms.
—Peter Mitham
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC OCTOBER 2020 | 37
by JACKIE PEARASE
SALMON ARM – Finding
dairy farming success is all
about paying attention to the
details.
“No matter the size or
eciencies, there hasn’t been
a dairy, in all the dairies I’ve
ever been on, that had a full
grasp of what’s going on,
independent dairy
management consultant
Devin Brennan.
Based in Quebec, Brennan
works extensively with dairy
producers across North
America and internationally to
demonstrate how they can
better track quantiable farm
data to nd nancial
eciencies and improve the
bottom line.
Brennan shared the
experience and knowledge
gained from visiting
thousands of dairies as one of
three keynote speakers the
North Okanagan dairy
extension advisory committee
secured for the North
Okanagan Dairy Seminar and
Trade Show in Salmon Arm on
February 27.
Brennan says it’s important
to determine where each
percent of a farms milk
revenue is being used by the
business, from feed to labour
to vet costs.
“If you can’t measure it, you
shouldn’t be doing it, he
notes. There are some things
that, month by month, will be
indicators to what’s going to
happen.
He says the best genetics
are useless if the farmer is
unable to uncover the issues
preventing a cow from
expressing its full potential.
Farmers can sabotage their
own success in any number of
ways, including not paying
enough attention to proper
animal management.
“Sometimes is has nothing
to do with nutrition and
everything to do with
managing our animals,
explains Brennan. “Its usually
not just one thing.
He says everything in milk
production is inter-related –
hoof and udder health,
nutrition, overcrowding,
reproduction, environment,
ketosis, cow comfort.
Adequate water,
ventilation, bedding and feed
may seem like no-brainers but
problems can slip by without
proper vigilance and record
keeping.
Tracking transition cow
performance is an example of
an area where eective
management is key because
50% of a dairys prot margin
occurs in the rst 100 days of
lactation, Brennan adds.
Trevor DeVries, a professor
and Canada Research Chair in
Dairy Cattle Behaviour and
Welfare at the University of
Guelph, agrees that transition
cows are key to a dairys
success.
“Even though we’ve made
gains in a lot of things – we’ve
done wonderful things in a lot
of areas of dairy production –
we still have a lot of post-
calving challenges, says
DeVries.
DeVries told the gathering
that metritis rates of 20% and
subclinical ketosis rates of
40% in North American dairy
herds have consequences in
terms of production and
reproduction.
These are real challenges
on our farms. We haven’t
made as many gains,
particularly with these
conditions, as we have with
some other ones, notes
DeVries. “One event in early
lactation can have multiple
negative eects on those
animals moving forward.
He says it is not normal for
transition cows to drop their
food intake as is commonly
believed; sick cows and cows
facing management issues will
eat less.
“How much the cow eats is
a function of how she eats; if
you want a cow to eat more,
you have to change
something about how she
eats, explains DeVries.
This means ensuring the
cows have enough room to lie
down so they can ruminate
properly, access to feed and
water, and well processed
feed that prevents sorting.
The minute the cow starts
sorting that diet, everything
you’ve done up to that point
gets thrown out the window,
says DeVries. “It causes
variability, it causes
inconsistency in what those
cows consume relative to
what we’re giving them to
consume.
Brennan says the attention
paid to on-farm aspects like
proper forage management,
early culling to prevent
overcrowding and improve
production, space for
transition cows, limiting pen
movement, and eective farm
layout pays dividends.
The data will help you
change the way you manage
the herd. If we have the right
data, theres a lot we can do,
asserts Brennan. “If the dairies
can go from under 2% margin
to 20% margin, you might be
in the position to help the
next generation get into the
market.
Be as efficient as possible
Steve Saccomano,
agriculture and agribusiness
manager for RBC Financial
Group in the Fraser Valley, says
a comprehensive
understanding of the prots
and expenses of any business
is key to success, but more so
in agriculture where the
margins are so low.
The best thing we can do
as producers is to be as
ecient as possible, he adds.
“[Farmers] have to know what
kind of return they are getting
on everything, not just at the
end of the year but at the end
of the month.
Dairy success is about attention to detail
Don’t do what you can’t measure, producers told
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38 | OCTOBER 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
When we left o last time,
Newt Pullmans dog Rocky lay
dead at the door to Tiny’s old
workshop. With Kenneth self-
isolating in Victoria, Deborah
met Newt’s request to bury him
nearby with an emphatic yes.
Rural Redemption, Part 127,
continues ...
Deborah asked Newt if
there was anything she could
do to help? Newt said not to
worry, he would take care of
everything and with the
whole isolation thing, it
would probably be best for
her to steer well clear of the
whole deal.
Will it be okay if we put
him by the maple tree over at
the corner of the shop?”
asked Newt. “He always used
to lay there in the shade on
hot days. Hed wait for Tiny
and keep an eye on the
place.
That sounds perfect then.
Do you mind if I say
goodbye?”
“By all means, said Newt.
“Here, let me give you some
room.
Newt backed away and
Deborah knelt beside Rocky.
Duchess followed her timidly
and snied her old beau
nervously. Deborah ran her
ngers through the hair on
Rockys neck and gave
Duchess a reassuring pat with
her other hand. She said
goodbye and shed always
think of him and Tiny
whenever she came to the
little shop and she supposed
they were having a wonderful
time together wherever it
was they were.
Deborah stood and turned
toward the house. Newt
could see tears on her
cheeks. He pulled out
his cell phone.
“Hey, Doug, it’s Newt.
Rockys died over here
at Tinys and I’ve got the
go-ahead from Deborah
to plant him under the
big maple by the corner of
the shop. I was wondering if
you could bring the little
Bobcat up and dig him a
hole?”
“Sorry to hear that, said
Doug. “I’ll be there in half an
hour.
Twenty minutes later,
Deborah watched Doug
McLeod’s pickup pull a trailer
carrying a small excavator up
the driveway. She moved to
the kitchen window and
watched him unload it. He
looked over at the house and
raised his arm when he saw
her in the window. Deborah
waved back briey and
disappeared. Newt took Doug
to see the spot he had picked
out under the maple tree.
“I see theyre back, said
Doug.
“Not they, said Newt. Just
her. Shes home quarantining
on her own.
“Hows that?” asked Doug.
Wheres Henderson?”
“Somewhere else, I
suppose. I’ve got a feeling
Susan knows but she’s not
saying. Chris said something
about him needing to be at
work, so I’d guess he’s in
Victoria.
“Seems odd, said Doug.
“You’d think he’d need to be
in quarantine, too. How do
you think Hendersons going
to feel about us putting
Rocky up here?”
That base is covered, said
Newt. “I asked her about that,
and she said to hell with him,
just go ahead. So, lets get to
it, shall we?”
The hole was dug in ten
minutes and the two friends
laid Rocky facing toward the
house. In another ten
minutes, the job was nished
and the loader was back on
the trailer. Newt thanked
Doug and said he should
probably be on his way home
for a bite of breakfast.
Doug smiled.
“I heard you had a new
cook at home, he said.
“Don’t go giving your
imagination too much of a
workout, Douglas, said Newt.
“Susan and the kids are just
houseguests for a couple of
weeks until the quarantine
blows over.
“Lot can happen in a
couple of weeks, said Doug.
“You must remember the
time old Hans Peterson slid
o the roof of Henry Myers
barn and busted his arm and
Jimmy Douglas lled in
driving the milk can truck,
and two weeks later that
pretty waitress from the diner
took o her apron and
walked right out and climbed
in with Jimmy and the pair of
them ran o and nobodys
seen either one of them
since?”
“You’re not even old
enough to remember when
milk was picked up in cans,
and I know for certain that
Hans Peterson and Henry
Myers and Jimmy Douglas,
and Brenda the Waitress were
all long before your time, said
Newt.
“Maybe so, said Doug. “But
I heard the story so many
times from Lonny Roper and
the old boys in his coee
club, I know it by heart.
Well, I’m no Jimmy
Douglas and Susan isn’t
Brenda the Waitress, so youre
barking up the wrong tree.
The way Lon told it, that
Brenda the Waitress was real
pretty. Are you saying you
don’t think Susan the
Houseguest is pretty?” asked
Doug.
What I’m thinking right
now is I wish I’d dug the
damned hole with a shovel!”
The banter was interrupted
by Deborah calling from the
house.
“Can I interest you two in
coee and muns? I can set
them out on the front porch
table.
Thanks, anyway, said
Newt. “But I need to be
getting home and I don’t
want you breaking any
quarantine rules for my sake.
“Nothing for me thanks,
said Doug. “I have a coee in
the truck. I’ll drink it on the
porch and say hi if you like.
“Yes, I would like that.
Newt looked at Doug and
lifted his eyebrows.
What?” said Doug.
Think about the story you
just told and remember it
started out with somebody
getting hurt pretty bad.
ttt
Kenneth Henderson waited
until nine oclock, then called
the oce number.
“Hello, Ministers Special
Inquiry Oce. How may I
help you?”
Janice? …Janice?”
“I’m sorry, I believe you
have the wrong number.
“No, wait. Is Janice there?”
said Kenneth.
This is the Ministers spe-“
“I know what it is. I want to
speak to Janice.
“I’m sorry, this oce is
closed and there is no one
here named Janice.
“If the oce is closed, what
are you doing there?”
“I’m working from home,
sir. How may I help you?”
“Is that you, Erica?”
Ah. Mr. Henderson, I
presume. It’s Ms. Swift to you,
and may I also presume that
you wish to speak to Ms.
Newberry?”
“Yes.
“Yes what?”
“Yes, this is Kenneth
Henderson and I wish to
speak to Ms. Newberry.
“I’m sorry, Ms. Newberry is
not available. Perhaps I could
help you?”
“I want to speak to her.
“I will assume you mean
Ms. Newberry, and as I
mentioned, she is not
available. Would you like me
to forward a message to her?”
“I need to speak to her on
an urgent personal matter.
“If it concerns your pay
cheque, I can deal with it.
“Its not my pay cheque! Its
personal, and urgent!”
“If it concerns your special
committee duties, I’d be glad
to forward your question.
Personal matters are not
within the purview of this
oce. Might I suggest you
call her personal number.
“She isn’t answering her
personal number!” wailed
Kenneth.
There was a long silence.
ARE YOU THERE? CAN YOU
HEAR ME?”
“Yes, Mr. Henderson, I am
here, and I can hear you very
clearly. You are speaking very
loudly. Perhaps you are
overwrought? Have you tried
texting or emailing Ms.
Newberry?”
Erica Swift winced as the
call ended with a loud bang.
... to be continued
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To Rocky’s end, and flirting with danger
Green bean trials
target large
grower needs
Bean preferences depend upon
the grower and the market
Grant McMillan takes a look at the beans planted in a variety trial in Matsqui. To be marketable, growers
want beans that are straight, long and not lumpy. PHOTO / RONDA PAYNE
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC OCTOBER 2020 | 39
by RONDA PAYNE
ABBOTSFORD – Green
beans have a relatively stable
share among fresh market
vegetables sold through large
retail outlets, on-farm markets
and at community farmers’
markets.
But knowing which
varieties to plant is essential
for farmers looking to
increase their yields, maximize
resources and ensure sales.
Integrated Crop
Management Services in
Abbotsford added green
beans to its variety trials this
year. Regional manager Grant
McMillan says the trials
operate on a co-op basis,
allowing both seed
companies and growers to
test varieties. Participants pay
per seed type entered.
Leah Erickson, territory
manager with Stokes Seeds,
trialed two varieties of green
beans. One was commercially
available for the 2020 season,
the other is awaiting further
trials before being oered to
growers.
Erickson says the large
bean growers in BC are
machine harvesting beans for
eciency and cost savings.
With margins getting tighter,
increased yields and reduced
inputs are key to staying
aoat.
There are still many
growers that are using hand-
picked [beans], but
technology is becoming more
and more important, she
says. “You want something
with a good set on it, because
when the machine takes them
o, the plant is no more. You
want as many beans as
possible.
McMillan says the two
varieties from Stokes both
performed well and the beans
matured at about the same
time, making it easier to
machine-harvest them. The
appearance was appealing.
“You want something thats
straight, long and dark green,
Erickson explains. They did
well, they looked like they had
a really good yield.
While farmers may be
willing to trial crops like green
beans, she says they’re often
pulled in so many directions.
This makes conducting a
proper trial challenging. She
likes the option of the ICMS
trials because they are done
scientically, weeded and
maintained. They aren’t an
after-thought to a farmers
already busy schedule.
Michelle Chou owns M2
Farms, a small mixed
vegetable farm in Maple
Ridge that sells its produce at
farmers’ markets and to family
and friends. Appearance and
taste are what she looks for in
her green beans.
The colours should be
vivid, beans should be
straight, long and not lumpy.
Fuzz can also be an issue as it
makes beans look dull in
colour.
“I also have the yellow
colour beans and the purple
colour, she says. When I do
farmers’ markets I usually mix
them together in a bag and
they look really nice in the
bag.
She also wants varieties to
have good yields and be the
product of conventional
breeding.
“I don’t want any
genetically modied seed,
she explains.
For Chou, growing
something dierent than
what’s available at big
retailers is important, but it
can’t be too far from the
normal in her experience. She
tried lemon cucumbers this
year, but customers preferred
the typical long English style
varieties. Shes willing to vary
the colours of the beans, but
that’s as diverse as she will get
for now.
McMillan plans to publish
videos about the green bean
trials on Twitter for the benet
of growers. Erickson hopes
the videos will also help show
customers how the seeds
performed.
Erickson sees a benet to
conducting trials near grower
farms to help illustrate
regional performance. She
hopes in-person visits will
happen next year.
“Its a shame with COVID. I
think there would have been
more interest [from others to
do trials as well as growers],
says Erickson. “It shows what’s
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McMillan had hoped to
hold an event at the trial site
on Matsqui Flats and to
announce all trial results at
the Pacic Agriculture Show.
Instead, information will be
made available online.
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40 | OCTOBER 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
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There’s plenty to put the dynamite in the family dynamic
These are the rst September
weekends in 20 years that I haven’t
been at the city markets selling
potatoes. It is the result of suddenly
completing a 10-year plan that began
ve years ago with the vague idea of
nding alternate revenue streams for
the farm. The vision: loosen the
golden handcus that are farmers
markets and spend more time with
family and farming.
COVID came along, oering a once
in a lifetime opportunity to
impulsively transform the plans for
gentle, reasonable and well-
cushioned extrication into a
somewhat mismanaged and much
more interesting business strategy.
Therefore, we have a total severance
from summer city markets, with the
income replacement plans still
unproven, and mostly untried.
On-line sales, farm stand, local
markets, wholesale, a new pricing
model for the seed potatoes: these
are all in play. While change feels
necessary, and even normal, it
qualies as a crazy way to conduct
business and is not being done
blithely.
I am stressed right now.
I probably needn’t be so fussed,
given that I am not sure what exactly I
am stressed over. Too much work, too
little time? Nope, no markets: time
abounds. Crops not working out?
Nope, not an issue. Mechanical
breakdowns? Nope, blessed at the
moment. Where are the sales coming
from exactly? Pass. Middle age
approaching? Oh.
It is super bad form to self-
therapize in this public manner. I
think it is time to move on to an
easier topic, something less fraught,
not so charged with emotion.
Let’s talk about family farming!
When I say that I work on my
familys farm, I usually – and wisely –
leave it at that. Those readers who
also work with family will know that
there is all kinds of drama. Those who
do not will remain in the dark as to
how it all works.
I am in the dark myself as to how it
works, but am familiar with some of
the rules, prohibitions, unspoken
agreements and topics to avoid – the
policies and procedures, if you will,
that when followed contribute to but
do not guarantee, a successful family
enterprise, complete with enjoying
one anothers company.
An important rule to remember
must surely be this: don’t write about
the family in articles. Every few years
however, I just can’t help it and o I
go. I consider it a public service.
Maybe someone is struggling on their
family farm and something I say
might help them get through the
rough patch. I’ll get right to it: pull
yourself together. There. Happy to
help.
Here is what I think I know about
family farming: essentially the term
“family dynamic” is any point on a
spectrum that spans two points: total
harmony and total dismay. Following
the policies and procedures, one does
what one can to keep pinned to the
harmony end of the scale. Inevitably,
there will be wild pitches over
to the dismay end of
the spectrum,
and the
situation
will
explode, much like dynamite.
And all because of that we have
the near impossible, easily forgotten
and absolutely necessary rule of
getting back to harmony: drop it and
move on.
So. I believe that exhausts the
topic.
Unfortunately, its September,
which I am not very good
at. l am reluctantly
concluding
with the observation
that I can’t blame
markets or family for
making September
dicult. No, it’s
more likely I am
just quite tired. Its
been a long haul
since about
March, to be
honest. And
potatoes are so
darn heavy.
Anna Helmer farms
with her bubble in
Pemberton and
was never
really going to
dish.
When the going gets tough, the tough know to drop the subject
Farm Story
by ANNA HELMER
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC OCTOBER 2020 | 41
BC Ag in the Classroom’s Pencil Patch will be open to smaller groups of students this fall.