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Vol. 106 No.9
The agricultural news source in British Columbia since 1915 SEPTEMBER 2020 | Vol. 106 No. 9
PANDEMIC
Field days feeling the pinch of social distancing rules 7
ALR
Changes to land commission kick in this fall 11
BEEF
Short-term roller coaster for beef market
23
by PETER MITHAM
VICTORIA – BC farmers
won’t have to worry about
their properties losing farm
class status on the 2021 tax
roll.
The province announced
July 29 that all properties the
BC Assessment Authority
currently classies as farms
would continue to hold that
status for the coming year.
“Our government is
committed to helping farmers
maintain their farm
classication for 2021 to
ensure they can produce the
food people in BC rely on,
said Selina Robinson,
provincial minister of
Municipal Aairs and
Housing, whose portfolio
includes BC Assessment.
The exemption does not
apply to properties subject to
a legal change, including a
change in ownership or
subdivision, according to the
province, nor to any property
with a change in use or where
a lease is expiring.
New applications for farm
class and retired farmer
designations will be
processed as usual.
Provincial regulations
require that properties
between 2 and 10 acres
generate at least $2,500 to be
classed as farms by BC
Assessment. Smaller
properties must generate
revenues of $10,000 while
larger properties must
generate $2,500 plus 5% of
the actual value of the farm
property in excess of 10 acres.
Property assessments are
based on market value as of
July 1 each year, though
valuations are reviewed until
Amir Niroumand and farm manager Melanie Buffel are creating an opportunity for city dwellers to experience planting, growing and harvesting food
for themselves and others at a 40-acre community farm Niroumand has created in Agassiz. While it doesn’t pretend to be commercial scale, the farm
provides food to as many as 120 people in season. The story is on page 45.
PHOTO / RONDA PAYNE
Farms to retain tax status
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Under
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roof
Ag ministry to
oversee
abattoir
inspections
by TOM WALKER
VICTORIA -- The BC Ministry
of Agriculture is taking over
meat inspection in the
province on December 1,
consolidating oversight of the
sector.
“Eective December 1,
2020, all slaughter activity
licensed under the Meat
Inspection Regulation for
class A, B, D, and E meat
slaughter licenses will now be
regulated under the Ministry
of Agriculture, the province
announced August 19.
See MORE on next page
o
Creating community in abundance
MORE inspections are key nfrom page 1
INCOME requirement waived nfrom page 1
“Its about time, says Nova
Woodbury, executive director
of the BC Association of
Abattoirs. “Its good news. We
have been calling for more
accountability and more
oversight of D and E licences
for a long time now. Having
licensing and oversight of all
slaughter facilities in BC being
provided by the Ministry of
Agriculture will be a benet to
all those involved in meat
processing."
A and B slaughter facilities
are currently under the
agriculture ministry. A
provincial meat inspector
observes the processing of
every animal.
D and E plants, which are
only allowed in 13 designated
regions of the province, have
been overseen by the
regional health authorities
and have no minimum
inspection requirements
other than a site inspection to
obtain their licence.
Meat from D and E facilities
can only be sold within the
regional district where it was
processed, and must carry a
“Not Government Inspected.
For sale only in the Regional
District of ____” label.
The change also pleases
Julia Smith of the Small Scale
Meat Processors Association.
This is something pretty
much everybody involved in
the meat industry agreed
needed to happen, she says.
The report of the provinces
Select Standing Committee
on Agriculture, Fish and Food,
published in September 2018,
called for the agriculture
ministry to look for ways, “to
expand current meat
inspection and enforcement
services. A second
recommendation required
“the Ministry of Agriculture
(or their designate) to
increase resources to enable
engagement with Class D and
E licensed facilities to ensure
increased inspections at those
facilities, including slaughter.
The latest government
announcement lacked details,
promising an intentions paper
this fall. But it did recognize a
number of benets to moving
all authority under the
agriculture ministry, including
new economic opportunities,
strengthening the resiliency
of the BC food system,
streamlining administration of
licenses, improving
consistency in the
administration of D and E
licences throughout the
province and increasing the
frequency of inspections to
ensure food safety and animal
welfare are maintained.
“More inspections is a key,
says Woodbury, noting that
some regional health
authorities fail to inspect D
and E plants even once a year.
She would also like to see
the inspections review actual
slaughter practices to ensure
operators are slaughtering
animals correctly.
The BC Association of
Abattoirs looks forward to
hearing details of the changes
that will occur, particularly
those related to “streamlining
licensing to reduce
administrative burdens.
We are interested to know
if some of these changes will
apply to the inspected Class A
and B abattoirs to encourage
more of them to open
throughout the province," she
says.
Smith is optimistic that the
changes will create
opportunities.
We are hoping that
bringing everybody under the
Ministry of Agriculture will
remove the regional
restrictions on sale and
broaden the market
opportunities for small
processors, she says. “Meat
that is safe to eat in the
Thompson Nicola region
should be safe to eat in
Squamish.
But the current capacity
situation across the industry
worries Smith.
We are disappointed with
the pace at which this is
happening and there is a real
urgency now, she says, noting
that the province began
discussion of D and E facilities
in spring 2018. All levels of
processing in the province are
running at out.
Farmers bought and raised
more animals this year
because of demand during
the COVID-19 pandemic while
others kept animals back to
nish for themselves, she
explains.
There is a tremendous
number of animals that are
market-ready this fall, she
says. “I am begging for spring
processing dates for my own
animals already.
The glut of animals will end
up being processed some
way, says Smith.
We really hope that it will
be in a facility with the proper
oversight, she says.
Regional health authorities
retain responsibility for new
Class D licences until
December 1, but the
agriculture ministry does not
expect the transition in
oversight to have any impact
on licences in process.
2 | SEPTEMBER 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
late fall prior to assessment
notices being distributed the
rst week of January.
According to BC
Assessment, approximately
51,000 properties in the
province are classied as
farms. The number is
relatively stable from year to
year, with approximately 200
applications for farm class
status each year.
The province says it is
unclear how many properties
risked losing farm class status
prior to the recent change “as
it is still very early in the farm
production cycle.
However, BC Ministry of
Agriculture sta said it was
aware that this year has been
challenging for some smaller-
scale farms in BC thanks to
COVID-19. The pandemic has
cost them market
opportunities and prevented
them from undertaking work
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that allow them to bring land
into production.
With that, the BC
government made the
decision to waive minimum
income requirements for BC
farm operations, the ministry
said. We made the decision
to proceed now, so farmers
know we have their back and
they can continue to focus on
the upcoming seasonal
harvest.
The move closely aligns
with the provinces supports
for agriculture and small
business under its COVID-19
action plan, according to the
province.
While the move targets
small-scale farms, it comes
against a backdrop of
ongoing calls to boost the
income farms require to
qualify for farm status under
property tax rules.
Raising the threshold is
something the BC Agriculture
Council has been advocating
for years, saying the current
thresholds are too low,
making it too easy for
properties to qualify as farms.
The current thresholds were
set in 1993, and remain the
lowest in Canada.
BCAC maintains that the
province needs to focus on
ensuring legitimate farms are
using the properties, then
assessing uses in that context.
BCAC chair Stan Vander
Waal has maintained in the
past. Were looking … to
make sure that the benets
are not extended to non-ag
uses of farmland.
"We have not heard of this
being a widespread issue
among BC farmers and
ranchers," says BCAC
executive director Reg Ens
regarding the latest
announcement. "Assistance
may be needed in specic
cases this year where sales
were drastically impacted by
the pandemic."
With les from
Myrna Stark Leader
Armyworm
keeps its distance
this summer
Monitoring program continues
by JACKIE PEARASE
ARMSTRONG – The
Western yellowstriped
armyworm did not wreak
havoc on North Okanagan
farms this spring but
monitoring by the BC
Ministry of Agriculture will
continue to the end of the
summer.
We are not home-free yet.
We are still catching low
numbers of moths in some of
our traps but no worms to
date, said ministry
entomologist Susanna
Acheampong in mid-August.
The initial outbreak in the
region in 2018 saw
armyworm populations rise in
August so the ministry wants
to monitor the situation until
the season is over.
The pest starts as a moth in
the spring, laying eggs that
hatch into voracious worms
that feed for two to three
weeks. There may be three to
four generations of the pest
each season, with the last
generation overwintering in
the soil as pupae.
With a diet of more than 60
plant species including
forage crops, vegetables,
ornamentals and weeds, the
yellowstriped armyworm can
do considerable damage to
farms.
The black, yellow-striped
worms rst spotted near
Armstrong in July 2018
caused considerable crop
damage. Pheromone traps
were placed the rst week of
May 2019 at about 10 farms
aected in 2018.
The rst reports of the pest
in 2019 came in early May
and rose through that month.
A second hatching in July
resulted in smaller numbers
of the worm.
The ministry asked
producers to be vigilant in
monitoring and to take steps
to control the pest on farms
to reduce and prevent the
spread of the worms.
Acheampong says there
are a number of reasons why
the pest might appear in a
region one season but not
reoccur in subsequent years.
Armyworm outbreaks can
be sporadic and may be due
to wind currents if it is a
species that is blown in from
another region, she explains.
“Diseases and parasitoids can
also lead to population
crashes.
She says management
strategies by farmers are also
key to controlling the pest.
A provincial tip sheet urges
farmers:
do not move or sell hay
immediately after baling, as
armyworm larvae take
refuge under swaths or
bales;
store bales for one to three
weeks prior to transport to
allow worms to move out or
die;
inspect bales to ensure
there are no worms before
transporting or selling;
inspect purchased hay for
worms prior to unloading;
clean hay equipment, farm
trucks and other equipment
with an air or water spray to
prevent worms from
travelling between farms;
inspect equipment coming
onto your property for
worms.
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC SEPTEMBER 2020 | 3
Smile with your eyes
Farmers markets have a different look and feel this year, but they continue to be a valuable venue
for producers. Scott Hanley of Eagle Bluff Orchard in Oliver was at Penticton's farmers market. He
says despite sellers and customers being asked to take precautions and less foot trafc, everyone is
adjusting to the new way of doing business. Pink caution tape prevents customers from feeling the
produce and the potential spread of germs. Eagle Bluff is a family-run orchard, growing mostly
peaches, nectarines, cherries, apricots and plums.
PHOTO / MYRNA STARK LEADER
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The agricultural news source in British Columbia since 1915
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Start it up, PW!
Fall back
September is here, and with it a sixth month of COVID-19 is drawing to a
close. Stores and schools are reopening, the 7 oclock cheers for caregivers that
rippled like a stadium wave across the province’s urban neighbourhoods have
long since faded and shoppers continue to adjust to evolving rules of
engagement at grocery stores.
But the pandemic continues, just like production on the provinces farms. But
how will consumers access that food this winter? Poking and prodding produce
is frowned upon, bulk foods are now prepackaged, and as this issue went to
press, Loblaws was moving to make face masks mandatory across its operations.
Distancing is no longer a social practice, as risk-management removes the
human touch from food sales.
On the one hand, consumers are seeing rst-hand the importance of food
safety protocols. But the loss of choice will be a rude awakening for others. Some
bulk food outlets have made investments in better dispensing systems while
small-volume items like wheat, barley and rye akes have disappeared. (Rolled
oats are always in season, however.)
While panic buying was the hallmark of the pandemic’s early days,
convenient, hassle-free access to the foods we’ve become familiar with is likely
to be this fall’s trend. Buying local eggs, grains, fruits and vegetables from the
farm next door, or the local grocer, will increase as people opt for the safe and
familiar to see them through the long winter ahead. They’re the fall-back options
when times get tough, and many local producers will be glad to feel the love.
But international trade is also key. Canada and BC are respected
internationally for providing safe, high-quality food. Many inputs for our farms
and processors come from abroad. Keeping trade owing could be a challenge if
COVID-19 becomes an entrenched disease that keeps factory output low,
especially in the o-season, and pinches farm labour supplies. The pandemic
may have us buying local, but selling global will be o the table, and its loss
shouldn’t be underestimated.
The good news in all this is that agriculture remains an essential service, and
eating an essential activity. While our choices of what to eat may be limited,
people need their daily bread and farmers are the ones supplying it. Many have
taken advantage of the pandemic to nd new routes to market. Whether these
become established relationships after the pandemic ends is another question,
Apparently, tapioca is the new bathroom tissue. A city-wide search of major
grocery stores failed to turn up a single box, only empty shelf space reminiscent
of the panic-induced dearth of
bathroom tissue in the early days of
the COVID-19 shutdown. Although
COVID-19 transportation and
processing disruptions have aected
tapioca, the root of the problem (no
pun intended) predates the virus.
Drought in Thailand, which accounts
for more than 40% of global exports,
has limited supply to a growing market. Shortages and rising prices were
predicted last year with an anticipated decrease of 30% to 50% in Thailand.
Much of the increased demand for cassava/tapioca results from its use in
making ethanol.
While the shortage of tapioca is largely due to drought, the COVID-19
pandemic will make its absence from grocery store shelves even more keenly
felt. Not as widely as the bathroom tissue panic last spring perhaps, but just
enough to prove the Rolling Stones had it right 50 years ago: You can’t always
get what you want.
Its still the case now, six months into the pandemic with no end in sight. The
second wave of cases expected in the fall began two months early. Despite an
auspicious start to reducing case numbers in the spring, the Phase 3 reopening
of BC’s economy has caused a sharp spike in reported infections. The average
daily cases in BC went from 10.6 on July 1 to 67.4 on August 14. The number
seems set to climb exponentially, and unless it can be curtailed, the planned
school reopening in September may be, at best, ill-advised. If the current surge
continues until it merges with the expected fall wave, we might nd ourselves
doing an about-face on our COVID-19 response and returning to Phase 2 and
the prospect of hoarding bathroom tissue again.
Regardless of how the curve is managed in BC, COVID-19 is destined to shape
our social and economic life for the foreseeable future. The worldwide push to
develop a vaccine seems destined to bear fruit soon (Russia is claiming success
already), but the logistics of immunizing a substantial part of the world’s
population will require many months of concerted eort. Even when it is done
there will still be unanswered questions: will the vaccine provide permanent
immunity? Will COVID-19 mutate and start all over again? Is there another
coronavirus with similar stealth transmission characteristics waiting for a human
host?
Many of the measures and behaviours we have used to combat COVID-19 are
unlikely to change. Don’t expect the Plexiglas shields and hand sanitizer
dispensers to disappear any time soon. There will be enough unease to make
some degree of social distance a social norm. Any activity requiring large
numbers of people to stand or sit shoulder to shoulder with strangers is in for a
rough ride: public transit, professional sports, air travel, cruise ships, and fairs
and exhibitions. On the other side of the coin, activities with built-in social
distance and requiring few participants will be in demand. The surges in
camping, bicycle sales, RV sales, boat sales, auto parts, lumber yard supplies, and
seed and home gardening supplies all point to behavioural re-focussing.
While social distance is a fact of life for many of us on our own farms and
ranches, COVID-19 and its consequences haven’t spared agriculture: outbreaks
in processing facilities, outbreaks among SAWP employees, shortages of SAWP
and domestic workers, and restrictions on farm sale and agritourism activities.
For some, the eects are trickle-down; for others they are direct. Either way they
require the same refocussing, subtle for some, profound for others, that is
happening in the broader world.
While the Rolling Stones pointed out we can’t always get what we want, the
song ended with the observation that “if you try sometimes, you just might nd
you get what you need. Lets hope we all nd that.
Bob Collins raises beef cattle and grows produce on his farm in the Alberni Valley.
The Back Forty
BOB COLLINS
but either way the shifts underscore a sector thats dynamic and responsive.
The province deserves credit for supporting online sales this summer and its
ongoing support of local producers through programs such as Buy BC, which is
increasingly seen at retail. Unlike some other provinces, BC quickly developed
programs aimed at protecting farm workers and communities from COVID-19.
While were all responsible for reducing the spread of the disease in
communities, the province set a national example for how to manage the
disease among farm workers.
The future of the pandemic is unwritten, but it’s fuelling a generational shift in
food systems. This should include greater support for rural infrastructure,
something meat producers have long called for and which growing interest in
local food requires.
Finding what we need in a COVID-19 world
4 | SEPTEMBER 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
Exports play a vital role in BC’s farm economy
BC producers exported to more than 151 countries last year
recent webinar that global
recovery is expected to be
strong and soon – if not in
the latter part of 2020, then
mid 2021, depending on how
countries manage the second
wave of COVID-19. Most
countries that have
experienced a second wave
have fared better than
expected. With adequate risk
management tools, Hall says
trade can proceed.
Export dependent
Several sectors including
cranberries, blueberries, tree
fruits, meat products,
prepared food and
greenhouse products
depend on export markets. It
is important to maintain
trade during this time,
keeping established trade
relationships and building
new ones. One strategy
mentioned by Global Affairs
Canada is to target new US
cities. While the US has
projected declines in
agricultural imports, Canada
went to 151 other countries.
China was the second-largest
export market, importing
more than $450.2 million of
our agricultural exports.
Japan followed at $208.2
million.
So how has the pandemic
affected trade in agricultural
products to date? One way to
measure
this is to
compare
the year-
to-date
value of
exports
to last
years
exports over the same
timeframe.
BC agricultural exports
from January to May 2020
were $552.6 million, up 12%
compared to the same period
a year earlier. However,
exports increased in some
regions while decreasing in
others.
The strongest performance
was with the more developed
countries and those with
which we have trade
agreements. Exports to
Europe have more than
doubled in the first five
months of 2020 compared to
all of 2019. On the flip side,
however, China sales have
dropped over 30% and Japan
has also decreased 8%. The
overall increase of 1% in sales
to Asia-Pacific region is due,
in part, to exports to South
Korea, Nepal, Australia and Sri
Lanka, which have more than
doubled.
What does the future look
like in this crazy time?
Peter Hall, chief economist
with Export Development
Canada, pointed out in a
Since March, when
COVID-19 began to hit home
here in Canada, we have all
had to make significant
adjustments to our lifestyles,
farms and businesses.
Lockdowns, shutdowns and
social distancing have
changed our lives. The
pandemic has also given us
an opportunity to focus on
our food system and how we
can support the local food
economy as a community.
While strengthening our
local food system for BC
farmers and ranchers as well
as BC residents is primary, it
is important to note the key
role exports play in our
economy. Agricultural trade
has continued throughout
this pandemic, showing how
important BC food is not just
to BC but to a surprising
number of countries
throughout the world.
How important are
agricultural exports in BC?
In 2019, BC agriculture and
seafood exports were valued
at over $4.6 billion. Processed
food exports accounted for
$1.6 billion of those exports;
the value of processed food
exports has increased more
than 42% since 2015.
Who are we trading with?
The United States is our
largest trading partner,
importing just over 72% of
the exports at $3.4 billion in
2019. However, products also
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC SEPTEMBER 2020 | 5
has fared well so far. The
USDA Ag Trade Forecast, May
2020, reported that US
imports of agricultural
products are projected to
decrease 2% in fresh fruit,
vegetables and beer this year.
However, BC increased trade
in all these areas over the
same time last year. BC
exported just under $5
million of beer to the US in
2019; in the first five months
of this year it had exported
more than $2.1 million worth.
The CUSMA trade agreement
that replaced NAFTA may
help maintain Canadas
markets in these areas.
Given the current tense
relationship with China, it is
not expected that this market
will increase anytime soon;
however, other markets like
South Korea, Hong Kong and
Singapore are showing more
activity and may be channels
into the China market.
There are several sources
of advice on trade and
funding assistance in
developing new markets at
the BC Ministry of Agriculture
as well as Export
Development Canada and
Global Affairs Canada.
Assistance in funding export
research and activities is
provided through the
Investment Agriculture
Foundation of BC on behalf
of the federal and provincial
governments.
In the end, we must
support our local food
system, buy local and do
what we can to strengthen it,
remembering that also
means supporting trade in
agriculture and seafood
products.
Coreen Rodger Berrisford is
the owner of Coran Consulting
and general manager of the BC
Cranberry Marketing
Commission. She has worked
with agricultural groups in BC
over the past 20 years in
exporting, trade analysis,
project management and
accessing government
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Physical distancing and one-way rows are the new standard for grower eld days, as practiced August 19 at Brent
Kelly Farms in Delta, host of the BC Potato & Vegetable Growers Association potato eld trials. Visitors
pre-registered for one-hour time slots during the day. Numbers were down but Heather Meberg of ES Cropconsult
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by RONDA PAYNE
DELTA – Many farmers
block o their calendars for
the eld days that give them
a chance to share
information, learn and
socialize.
This year will be dierent,
however, as ongoing
restrictions designed to curb
COVID-19 has changed the
format of most eld days.
Alexis Arthur, owner of
Pacic Forage Bag Supply Ltd.
in Delta, says she might be
hosting two eld days this
summer, one in Matsqui and
the other in Sumas. If they go
ahead, they will be dierent
from the usual setup. While
her events normally feature a
steak BBQ under a tent as
part of the draw, sitting
together and buets arent on
the menu this year.
When you hear the
numbers [of COVID-19 cases]
getting higher, as a business I
have to be mindful, she says.
She had intended on
hosting four eld days, and
explained the parameters the
events would have to follow
to the co-host businesses and
farmers. Subsequently, two
events were cancelled, one
because underlying health
issues at the host farm made
hosting unwise.
“In light of the rising
numbers, I basically said I’d
like feedback and I’d like to
know if everyone is
comfortable having the
events on their land, she
explains. We’ve gone from
having four to … [possibly]
two. With those increasing
[COVID-19 case] numbers, I
think people are getting a
little more anxious.
Whether or not any eld
day events proceed, Arthur
will complete the trials on all
viable plots from the four
sites and collect information.
To do so, she will set up the
elds in usual eld day crop
fashion to examine the trial
forage. She may invite a few
individuals to come out to
gain the information rst-
hand without the formalities
of a eld day.
Shes keen to share
information because it’s been
a tough year for growers of
forage crops such as corn.
There’s valuable
information that they can get
their hands on. It was a
bloody hard year for [corn],
she says.
Results of trials Pacic
Forage conducted will be
posted online and Arthur
intends to add short videos
detailing information about
varieties.
“Maybe we put some
money we put towards BBQs
to an eective video, she
says.
Okanagan Fertilizer trialed
15 corn varieties this year but
opted to skip its eld day.
What we are thinking is if
people want to go look at the
new varieties, we can take
them out there individually,
says sales agronomist Caleb
Stuart.
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The company planted new
varieties from a supplier that
wasn’t previously selling seed
in BC and Stuart believes the
results will be useful to
growers.
Strawberry, raspberry and
blueberry growers also
missed out on their eld days
this year. Blueberry growers
are still expected to have an
annual general meeting in the
fall, but a eld day is unlikely
to be part of the event.
Integrated Crop
Management Services (ICMS)
is still considering options for
a eld day, says BC regional
manager Grant McMillan.
At this point, we may run it
based on appointments, he
says. We still have been
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The prospect of prolonged restrictions on
large public events has prompted BC’s biggest
agriculture show to go online in 2021.
Originally scheduled for Tradex in Abbotsford
on January 28-30, the Pacic Agriculture Show
will pivot to a virtual format in 2021 with plans
for the 2022 event to return to Tradex, says
show manager Jim Shepard.
We’ll be pivoting and producing a world-
class virtual show, he says. Theres all kinds of
reasons for doing it.
An online portal will allow visitors to explore
the trade show oor, which will reect the usual
layout at Tradex. They’ll be able to visit booths,
have private chats with vendors, access product
information and even enjoy the virtual petting
zoo.
The education dimension will also continue,
with the shows partner conferences also
moving online. The Horticultural Growers Short
Course, Cannatech West and Ag Innovation Day
have all agreed to run their programs.
Shepard is excited about the opportunities
the virtual space provides, including inviting
speakers from around the world in addition to
the short course’s usual presenters.
He also sees an opportunity to expand the
show's reach and inuence to an even wider
audience.
Shepard expects to send packages outlining
the event and explaining registration
opportunities to show exhibitors in mid-
September.
“Everyone seems pretty keen to make this a
success, he says. We’re going to have virtual
farm tours, virtual demonstrations, all highly
interactive and in real time.
—Ronda Payne
Pacific Agriculture Show goes virtual
doing small tours whenever a
client needs to look at the
trials.
The BC Potato & Vegetable
Growers Association potato
variety eld day is a popular
event that typically draws
interest from across the
country. Organizers modied
it to respect COVID-19
protocols, limiting attendance
to 20 people an hour and
eliminating the food
component.
Kootenay and Boundary
Farm Advisors cancelled its
spring and summer eld days,
but coordinator Rachael
Roussin resumed the events
when the province moved to
Phase 3 of its reopening plan.
She plans to host six eld
days before December but
the events will be tightly
focused and attendance
limited to no more than 20
people in keeping with
provincial health orders.
The eld days are specic
and targeted in their
approach and theme, she
says. Agriculture is an
essential service and people
haven’t stopped [farming].
Life is continuing for the ag
sector and this is supporting
them. We have done some
online extension events.
They’ve been awesome, but
everyone says you can’t beat
face-to-face.
FIELD nfrom pg 7
FILE PHOTO / MYRNA STARK LEADER
AgSafe makes
changes to
board structure
Changes to bylaws endorsed by
members in online meeting
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC SEPTEMBER 2020 | 9
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by PETER MITHAM
ABBOTSFORD – A new era
for farm safety in BC dawned
last month as farm sector
representatives approved
motions to rename the
provinces largest farm safety
organization the AgSafe
Agriculture Association and
recongure its board of
directors.
Today marks the rst time
that AgSafe has made
signicant changes to the
bylaws, AgSafe chair Don
Dahr told a special general
meeting held via
videoconference on August
11.
The association debuted in
1993 as the Farm and Ranch
Safety and Health
Association, a partnership of
the province (through
WorkSafeBC), employers
(represented by the BC
Federation of Agriculture,
now the BC Agriculture
Council), and workers
(represented by the Canadian
Farmworkers Union).
But a governance review
last fall by Kyle Pearce,
principal of think:act
consulting in Vancouver,
agged a risk that the CFU
could dissolve, jeopardizing
AgSafe’s future.
CFU was originally
established in 1980 to
represent a workforce made
up largely of Indo-Canadians.
It has been a signicant
contributor to standards
governing farm workers, a
fact Dahr acknowledged in
his comments.
“I want to thank [CFU] for
providing worker perspective
and bringing strong board
members to the AgSafe table,
he said, noting that it led the
way in providing leadership
and advocacy for
farmworkers at a time when
there was none.
But leadership of CFU is
aging and union members
have been considering the
organizations direction.
One option is revamping
to better address the current
needs of farmworkers, many
of whom are migrant workers.
However, the governance
report for AgSafe agged the
potential of the unions
dissolution.
This could jeopardize the
governance of AgSafe, which
relies on the union for half its
appointed board members.
(BCAC provides the other
half.)
The purpose of redrafting
the bylaws, including the
composition of the board, is
to ensure that AgSafe has the
ability to operate legally as a
non-prot society, Dahr said.
The half-hour meeting
attracted 28 people, of which
13 cast votes on three
motions. The rst provided
for the organizations new
name; the second replaced
the associations bylaws; and
the third appointed a
transitional board of
directors.
The three motions were
voted on as one, with 10
votes cast in favour, one
opposed and two
abstentions.
CFU representative Nina
Hansen cast the opposing
vote. Hansen declined
comment but earlier this year
told Country Life in BC the CFU
was not on the verge of
dissolving.
The new bylaws provide
for an elected board of three
to seven directors, with four
directors being employers,
one being a worker
representative, another
industry member less than 40
years old and one person
interested in health and
safety issues.
The transitional board
includes current AgSafe chair
Don Dahr, incumbent
directors Eric Bomhof and
Andrea van Iterson as well as
Lisa Craig, Rhonda Driediger
and David Nguyen.
Workers have scant
representation on the
transitional board, though
most directors have
signicant experience with
farm and workplace safety
issues.
Dahr, for example, is a
former director of industry
and labour services at
WorkSafeBC. Driediger is co-
chair of BCAC’s labour
committee while Nguyen is a
former AgSafe consultant
now working in the
mushroom sector. Bomhof
coordinates human resources
and health and safety at the
Vandermeulen Group in
Abbotsford.
The changes relate strictly
to AgSafe's governance, and
will not aect the delivery of
services.
Makin’ hay
Ranchers in the Williams Lake area had to wait longer than usual to put up hay this year, but the wait
has been worth it. There was an abundance of grass after a soggy spring.
PHOTO / LIZ TWAN
10 | SEPTEMBER 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
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2020_CF_OBSOLETE_BC_8.167x9_BCCountryLiving_AD.indd 1 2020-08-13 12:23 PM
by ANITA DESAI
VANCOUVER – Metro
Vancouver is developing a
climate action plan, and it
wants to hear from the
regions farmers.
The region, which includes
21 municipalities from
Vancouver to Langley as well
as Tsawwassen First Nation, is
working to ensure a steady
reduction in climate change,
vowing to become carbon-
neutral – one where carbon
emissions fall to zero via
reduced emissions and
benecial practices – by 2050.
A plan to reduce emissions,
store carbon and increase
climate resilience for the
agricultural sector over the
next 30 years was outlined in a
recently published discussion
paper.
Conor Reynolds, division
manager of air quality and
climate change policy for
Metro Vancouver, emphasizes
the sense of urgency in
accelerating this initiative now.
“Local governments have
been on the forefront of
climate action for nearly two
decades, and climate change-
related strategies and actions
have long been incorporated
into Metro Vancouvers utility,
growth management and air
quality plans, he says. “Now,
we are consolidating all those
strategies and actions in one
plan: Climate 2050.
Reynolds says the regional
district plans to work with the
agricultural sector to achieve a
carbon-neutral future by 2050.
The Climate 2050 plan and
other initiatives aim to identify
steps local farms can take.
“Development of Climate
2050 and the Clean Air Plan
will help identify the actions
needed to achieve carbon
neutrality and to reduce
emissions from all sectors
including the agriculture
sector, he says.
Key goals are accelerated
reductions in greenhouse gas
emissions, energy eciency
improvements, increased use
of clean renewable energy
such as electricity and
biofuels, and making the most
of advancements in carbon
capture and sequestration
technology.
“Farmers play a critical role
in reducing emissions from
agricultural activities,
Reynolds says, noting that
other industries and levels of
government also need to
support eorts to achieve the
targets.
Without a clear course of
action, Reynolds says the
regions farmers will face
signicant challenges.
“Climate change
projections for the region
show that over the coming
decades we will experience
hotter, drier summers with an
increased wildre risk, and
warmer, wetter winters, he
says. These changes will aect
everyone, including farmers
and the agricultural sector. As
the same time, reducing
emissions to achieve carbon
neutrality and avoid the worst
impacts of climate change will
require all sectors to adopt
new technologies and
practices.
While reducing the regions
carbon footprint has been a
long-standing goal, the
COVID-19 pandemic has not
made the process easier. It has
also complicated the
gathering of feedback on
future actions.
“COVID-19 has been a
major disruption for
governments, farmers and
communities and has
highlighted the importance of
preparedness and resilience,
says Reynolds. “In terms of
impacts on Climate 2050,
Metro Vancouver has moved
to an online-based
engagement process.
Program support
The BC Agriculture and
Food Climate Action Initiative
shares Metro Vancouvers
concerns regarding the
impacts of climate change. It is
also working hard to develop
tools and resources to increase
the capacity of agriculture to
adapt to climate change.
CAI director Emily MacNair
says two key programs have
supported industrys eorts to
respond to climate change
over the past seven years.
“Since 2013, we have
focused on climate change
adaptation, primarily through
the delivery of programs: The
Regional Adaptation Program
(RAP) and the Farm
Adaptation Innovator Program
(FAIP), she says.
RAP is geared towards
adaptation programs by
organizations, while FAIP
focuses on research initiatives.
“RAP brings together
producers, agricultural
organizations and
government sta and
agencies to collaboratively
identify priority climate
impacts and strategies and to
implement actions that
support agricultural
adaptation, she says. “FAIP
delivers funding for farm-level
applied research projects that
help producers adapt to the
impacts of climate change,
such as hotter and drier
summers and increasing and
shifting pest populations.
Within Metro Vancouver,
MacNair notes that a regional
adaptation strategies pan has
been released for Delta.
A total of 10 projects across
the province have received
$1.4 million through FAIP for
ongoing work between 2019
and 2023. CAI adds that out
sources have granted nearly
$500,000 in additional funding
to support FAIP projects and
advance applied research on
climate change adaptation.
BC Ministry of Agriculture
has identied the urgency as
well, announcing that farmers
on Vancouver Island and the
Southern Gulf Islands will
receive support in adapting to
climate change.
A plan announced by the
federal and provincial
governments identies a
number of strategies for
increasing resilience of
producers in the region. This,
along with $300,000 in
funding through the Canadian
Agricultural Partnership, will
help to support and achieve
these strategies.
Metro Vancouver targets carbon-neutral future
Agriculture will be a key player in addressing a shifting climate
There hasn’t been a huge rush in ALR exclusion applications in advance of changes September 30 to how the land
commission will process applications. PHOTO / PETER MITHAM
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC SEPTEMBER 2020 | 11
Changes to land
commission kick
in this fall
Regional panels will be disbanded
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BURNABY – Changes to
how the Agricultural Land
Commission does business at
the end of this month are
raising questions about what
the future holds.
This summer has seen at
least two municipalities move
forward with exclusion
applications in advance of
new rules that take eect
September 30. In the six
weeks ended August 19, the
ALC received four exclusion
applications versus three in
the same period a year earlier.
These included bids by
Kelowna to exclude 40 acres
for a transit centre and the
District of Kents request for 43
acres designated for
residential development.
The increase in applications
may not be dramatic, but both
come ahead of changes that
make local and First Nation
governments the sole entities
able to seek exclusions from
the ALR.
The rules also require
municipalities to hold public
hearings prior to seeking
exclusions, something not
currently required.
This concerns Jim
Grieshaber-Otto of Cedar Isle
Farm in Agassiz, who feels the
District of Kents public
engagement process was not
in the spirit of the new
regulation. Public feedback
was being sought when the
COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Approximately 55% of district
residents opposed the
districts plans but it voted in
July to pursue the block
exclusion without a public
hearing after the initial
information session.
The district seems to have
rushed to submit its
application before the new,
more restrictive rules apply,
Grieshaber-Otto contends in a
submission to the ALC.
ALC CEO Kim Grout says
there has been no rush to le
applications in advance of the
rules changing, either from
municipalities or from
individual landowners.
While the exclusion
applications led this summer
make up 10% of the 38
applications the ALC received
in the period, total
applications in the period
were down from 59 a year
ago.
“It is possible we will see an
upswing in applications but it
is not showing yet in the data,
Grout says.
Centralized
Bill 15 also did away with
the system of regional panels,
centralizing decision-making.
While regional representation
is being maintained, new
regulations aim to make
decision-making faster and
more ecient. All existing
commissioners remained in
place under the new structure,
announced March 12.
However, the chair of the ALC
will now have greater input on
government’s appointment of
new commissioners. This has
many observers anxiously
watching what happens when
the terms of 11 land
commissioners expire in
October.
There are 15 land
commissioners besides the
chair, meaning the next round
of appointments will dene
the character of the
commission as it adjusts to
governance changes made
under Bill 15.
District A Farmers Institute
questions whether the new
process is suciently free of
political interference, however.
It notes that the province’s
agriculture minister has the
nal say over appointments,
even though the ALC operates
independently of government.
While the lieutenant
governor in council must
appoint the chair, the
Agricultural Land Commission
Act species that “the minister
must appoint the other
members after consulting
with the chair.
“[How] does not increase,
rather than decrease, political
interference (an issue the
minister has stated she is
concerned about)?” asks Janet
Thony, president of District A
Farmers Institute.
According to the ALC, all
candidates for appointment to
the commission must present
themselves through the
Crown Agency and Board
Resourcing Oce.
The way things have been
working since the legislation
changed is CABRO sends the
ALC any resumes/CVs they
receive that appear to t with
the knowledge requirements
in the legislation, and the
chair of the ALC (and/or
commissioners the chair
appoints) interviews
candidates and based on
those interviews makes
recommendations back to
CABRO, explains Grout,
noting that CABRO then
liaises with the provinces
agriculture minister, who
makes the nal decision.
Covid19 has curtailed some
of our Corn Trial BBQ’s. We are
offering a discount of $5/Bag off
early corn seed orders received
by October 31, 2020.
The Ribeye will return in 2021.
Text or call
Alexis
604.319.0376
Visit our Facebook page
and web site to view
Trial Site Videos at the
end of September.
12 | SEPTEMBER 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
© 2020 AGCO Corporation. Massey Ferguson is a worldwide brand of AGCO Corporation. AGCO and Massey Ferguson are trademarks of AGCO. All rights reserved.
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Aaron Gregory greets migrant workers at a Creston campground set up to provide support services, including
COVID-19 training, before they head off to work at area orchards and farms. PHOTO / TOM WALKER
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC SEPTEMBER 2020 | 13
Creston initiative keeps workers, town safe
Safe staging, safe camps keep
farm workers healthy
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CRESTON – Fields Forward,
the Creston Valley food and
agriculture organization, has
been supporting area
orchardists to keep their
families, the townspeople and
fruit pickers safe from
COVID-19 this summer.
“It has been a huge
concern, says Fields Forward
coordinator Elizabeth Quinn.
We are a small valley of
23,000 with no known
community cases and people
were worried.
The disease wasn’t
specically identied at a
community roundtable held
in May, but Quinn interviewed
farmers and pickers to get a
sense of their concerns
around COVID-19.
We listened to people and
read between the lines, says
Quinn. The whole situation
was really overwhelming.
From that, Fields Forward
took the initiative.
We were able to do some
of the heavy lifting for the
farmers, says Quinn.
First o, they organized a
meeting with AgSafe in June
that 25 orchardists attended.
AgSafe took them through
their website and outlined all
the resources that were
available, she says.
Next, they were able to hire
Ellen Lauther, formerly of Just-
a-Mere Organic Farm near
Creston, as a coordinator. She
had overseen similar work at
Just-a-Mere, an organic fruit
operation with a focus on tree
fruits.
“Ellen has a broad
background in farming and
she was able to work with
some 15 orchards to set up
their own COVID coordinators
and start putting in the
enhanced infrastructure for
on-farm picker camps, says
Quinn.
Quinn says BC Ministry of
Agriculture resources made it
easier to provide support to
growers.
The templates that were
provided gave the orchardists
an outline of what they would
need to consider when
setting up a COVID safety
plan for their farm, she says.
All told, she says some
farmers spent up to $10,000
to set up their camps
correctly, including room to
spread out tents, extra Porta
Potties and wash stations,
extra cooking facilities and
COVID-19 protocol signage.
With everything ready in
the orchards, the town
needed some way to organize
the incoming workers. Rather
than have them camping in
the rough, the town, with
provincial assistance, reserved
space in a local RV park as a
staging ground for incoming
workers.
The camp gives workers a
safe clean place to get set up
while they look for work and
then move on to picker
camps in the individual
orchards, explains Aaron
Gregory, the camp
coordinator who is also an
economic development
coordinator for the region.
Kozy Tent & Trailer Park was
leased as a base camp for
pickers.
“It works out for everyone,
says Gregory. The pickers
have a good place to stay
while they look for work and
the RV park owner has steady
reservations from mid July to
mid August.
Gregory and his assistant
are able to help with job
searches (listings are posted
on a job board) and the
COVID-19 awareness testing
that all pickers must
complete.
We also have a separate
tent set aside in case a worker
with symptoms needs to
isolate before going on to
seek medical help, Gregory
points out. It hasn’t been
needed and Quinn says there
have been no reported cases
among orchard workers.
Pickers are having no
diculty nding work.
Indeed, there is a shortage of
pickers.
“I’m getting phone calls all
the time, says Quinn. “I talked
to one orchardist (August 10)
who says she only has 50 of
the 90 workers she would
normally need.
Quinn says growers are
saying they will stretch their
picking season as long as they
can in order to get in as much
fruit as possible, but she is
hearing that some blocks may
be abandoned.
Well-received
“I am hearing that our work
has been well received, says
Quinn.
Gregory, who grew up in
the community, concurs.
“By being proactive and
showing the orchard families,
the community and the
pickers that we had
procedures in place really
reduced everyones anxiety,
he says.
A follow-up discussion is
planned with the community
in the fall to reect on what
worked and what might be
needed for next year.
Quinn notes that while
COVID-19 has forced growers
to spend money at an
unexpected time, camp
improvements always pay o
in the long run with the best
camps getting the most
applications.
“If workers have a choice,
they will always want to work
for the orchard with the best
camp facilities, she says.
14 | SEPTEMBER 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
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Three candidates have
been selected to participate
in the BC Milk Marketing
Board’s new entrant program.
The programs selection
committee interviewed a
shortlist of seven candidates
and chose Katie and Kelvin
Lagemaat, Breanna & Jarrod
Simpson and Marlayna Van
Hoepen.
The three have until
December 31, 2021 to begin
production.
The winners were selected
from an initial pool of 77
applicants. A shortlist was
announced in February of
this year, and candidates
were required to submit
documentation, including a
business plan, to the board
by June 1. The selection
committee interviewed the
shortlisted applicants who
provided
business plans to
identify those
who would most
benet from
assistance and
who
demonstrated
the greatest
potential for long-term
success in dairy farming.
“Every candidate was
asked questions that allowed
the committee to conduct an
evaluation of their skills and
assessed their abilities for
successful long-term on-farm
operations and
nancial/policy
administration, the board
explained in announcing its
selection.
Applicants who failed to
be selected may reapply for
consideration during the next
selection of candidates in
2021.
Details of the process,
which will select candidates
for production starts in 2022,
will be announced in fall
2020. The program aims to
average three new entrants a
year.
The new entrant program
provides incentive quota of
15 kilograms of Continuous
Daily Quota (CDQ) to new
entrants plus up to 8
kilograms of matching CDQ
on a 1:1 ratio basis during the
10 years of the program.
—Peter Mitham
Top vet
appointed
BC has a new top vet.
Dr. Rayna Gunvaldsen was
appointed chief veterinarian
on July 10, succeeding Dr.
Jane Pritchard, who had
served as top vet since 2013.
A graduate of the
University of Saskatchewan,
Gunvaldsen specialized in
herd health and regulatory
medicine. Her studies also
included specializations in
large animal clinical sciences
and swine inuenza. The BC
Ministry of Agriculture notes
that she is trained in
emergency preparedness and
management.
Gunvaldsens experience
includes time with the
Canadian Food Inspection
Agency (CFIA) as
Saskatchewan’s foreign animal
disease veterinarian.
Pritchard’s retirement at the
end of March has allowed for
a revamp of the branchs
structure. Her role included
leading the BC Ministry of
Agriculture’s Plant and Animal
Health Branch as she was the
top executive within the
branch. The plant health unit
lacked a director, but that is
set to change.
Pritchard’s responsibilities
will now be spread among
several people. Ursula Viney is
overseeing the branch as a
whole in the role of operations
director while Gunvaldsen is
chief veterinarian, overseeing
animal health. Directors are
being sought for the animal
health lab and plant health
unit.
Prior to her retirement,
Pritchard described her work
as enjoyable and rewarding.
The opportunity to make a
dierence both during her
tenure and by leaving a solid
foundation for her successors
was a source of great
satisfaction.
—Peter Mitham and
Barbara Johnstone Grimmer
BC youth offer
perspectives
British Columbia has three
representatives among the 25
members selected for the new
Canadian Agricultural Youth
Council.
Sara Kate Smith, Jessica
Leung and Marcus Grymonpré
are the council’s three
members from BC, and bring
a diverse set of perspectives
and skills to the council.
Smith may well be the best-
known, having made her mark
as chair of 4-H Canadas Youth
Advisory Committee and
being Canadas representative
at both the United Nations
Committee on World Food
Security conference and the
UN Innovation Symposium for
Family Farmers. Partly due to
her lobbying, the UN Food
and Agriculture Organization
created a youth advisory
committee to help guide
policy-making.
Jessica Leung was a co-op
student with Agriculture and
Agri-Food Canada in Agassiz
while a student at Simon
Fraser University. “Beyond
research, I have been involved
in reporting regional climate
impacts on agriculture and in
consulting in integrated pest
management, she notes in a
brief description of her
background introducing
council members.
University of the Fraser
Valley graduate Marcus
Grymonpré hopes to speak for
new entrants to farming.
“I believe my unique
perspectives relate to
generating awareness and
excitement about the industry
to attract new entrants,
especially youth with no prior
agriculture experience, he
says in his introduction.
Originally announced by
federal agriculture minister
Marie-Claude Bibeau on
January 24, the council will
meet twice a year to “identify
new and emerging issues,
enable on-going dialogue on
challenges and opportunities,
share information and best
practices, and provide advice
on the strengths and
weaknesses of policies and
programs aecting the
agriculture and agri-food
sector.
Candidates between 18
and 30 years old were invited
to apply for membership, and
more than 800 people
applied. Unsuccessful
applicants may be contacted
to participate in other ways
with government in the
future, notes the
announcement of the
council’s members.
—Peter Mitham
Dairy industry selects new entrants
Ag Briefs
EDITED BY PETER MITHAM
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC SEPTEMBER 2020 | 15
Financing
the future of
agriculture.
At BMO, we know that farming is more than just
a business – its a way of life.
And as a longstanding supporter of the BC farming
community, we’ve been committed to agriculture
since we began working with farmers in 1817.
Sheep producers told to bear with wildlife
Conservation officers encourage
conflict avoidance
Donkeys, not dogs, work best to protect the ock from predators at Parry Bay Sheep Farm on Vancouver Island.
PHOTO / PARRY BAY SHEEP FARM
by BARBARA JOHNSTONE
GRIMMER
METCHOSIN – A black bear
has been killing sheep in the
Metchosin area on Vancouver
Island since July and unlike
previous occasions, the BC
Conservation Ocer Service
(COS) is stepping back and
asking farmers to step up
prevention eorts.
Twenty-one sheep from
various farms have been killed
to date. Ten of the bear kills
were at John and Lorraine
Buchanans Parry Bay Sheep
Farm. An additional ve sheep
are missing.
“I believe four were chased
into the ocean, says John
Buchanan. “One was found on
the beach across the harbour.
I don’t know yet how many of
these will be paid for.
Producers are eligible to
receive compensation for
most losses if it can be proven
to the standard requirements
for the provincial Livestock
Protection Program.
Conservation ocers have
been called out to help but
have not responded with
assistance to remove the bear.
The District of Metchosin sent
a letter to the BC COS in mid-
July and Metchosin mayor
John Ranns was assured that
conservation ocers would
dispatch dogs if a scent
remained on the kill.
“Nobody has come out,
says Ranns.
A statement the BC
Ministry of Environment
provided Country Life in BC
says the COS has been
working with Metchosin
farmers to minimize the
number of sheep lost to bears
and the number of bears
killed.
These strategies include
educating farmers on best
management practices
regarding livestock, including
installing an electric fence,
locking up sheep in a barn
overnight, regularly checking
the condition of the herd and
the use of livestock guardian
dogs, says the statement.
“Proper livestock husbandry
management is critical to help
reduce predation and lessen
livestock losses. If these
practices are not followed,
this can result in a wildlife
conict and the possible
destruction of a bear that
could have been prevented.
The province says
conservation ocers have
been active in Metchosin,
responding to complaints and
encouraging farmers to follow
best practices to reduce
conicts.
“Conservation ocers
strongly encourage farmers to
implement best practices to
protect both livestock and
wildlife, the statement says.
“Livestock management
techniques are always
encouraged to help prevent
conicts from happening in
the rst place.
Donkey patrol
Buchanan has tried to
comply with the
recommendations, adding
guardian donkeys to his ocks
and electric fencing to some
elds. He adds that guardian
dogs would be dicult to
manage in the semi-
developed area of Metchosin.
“I do believe the donkeys
help, says Buchanan. There
was a cougar hanging around
one eld that had two small
donkeys in it. That night it
moved a couple of miles and
killed a sheep with no
donkeys present. When we
had the kill and the lambs
chased into the ocean in East
Sooke, we moved a donkey
out there. The pasture was
large, and the bear came and
killed one and took one away.
We moved them to a smaller
eld and had no more
problems. Now we have
electric fencing there and the
problem stopped.
But the mitigation eorts
aren’t cheap. Buchanan spent
$2,000 to upgrade the fence
and $500 on maintenance.
The cost of three donkeys,
feed and farrier is another
$2,000. He gures it would be
too expensive to electrify the
entire 10 miles of fencing at
all the holdings where he
grazes sheep.
The Buchanans have the
largest sheep ock on
Vancouver Island, utilizing
small leased pastures around
the region, and providing
infrastructure to the sheep
community by running a
small inspected abattoir.
“By far the biggest issue for
me, though, is if we are
pushed o pastures, that will
reduce sheep numbers, and
threaten the slaughterhouse
and our ability to maintain the
delivery of lamb to town. That
is bad for the industry, says
Buchanan.
“On a brighter note, he
adds, “COVID-19 has increased
our demand to a level that
can maintain the business and
allow me to buy when
everybody has lambs.
Traps better
The provinces statement
adds that conservation
ocers rarely use tracking
dogs when responding to
bear conicts, as the
circumstances in which they
are eective are very limited
and can pose additional
safety risks to the public and
ocers. Live trapping using a
variety of techniques is a
much safer and eective
option.
The position the COS has
taken has been frustrating for
Ranns.
Traps and snares have
proven to not be eective in
our community and run the
risk of trapping bears that are
not a problem, says Ranns.
This is a problem that goes
beyond the threat to our
farming community. There is a
concern for the public and
our visitors who use our
hiking trails, which are the
main corridors that the bears
use. These people are city
people and not bear aware.
Ranns is concerned that
the bear will be back worse
than ever in September, as he
builds up fat stores for the
winter.
Producers encountering
predator kills of their ock are
encouraged to call the
Ministry of Environment RAPP
Line for assistance at 1-877-
952-7277 or #7277 on the
TELUS Mobility network. To
report a livestock predator
loss, call 1-844-852-5788 and
the Livestock Protection
Program will provide
verication and mitigation for
cattle and sheep producers.
16 | SEPTEMBER 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
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Go with your gut. JAGUAR.
Disease has sheep producers on defensive
Wild sheep advocates say domestic sheep are to blame for bighorn deaths
by BARBARA JOHNSTONE GRIMMER
PENTICTON – The ongoing and controversial
conict over interactions between wild and
domestic sheep has ared up following a
pneumonia outbreak in a wild sheep herd south of
Penticton.
The bacteria, Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae (M. ovi),
can infect wild sheep if they encounter animals
carrying the organism, such as domestic sheep and
goats.
Reports from the public in mid-July of sick lambs
led to two lambs being shot and sampled by
provincial wildlife ocers. Both lambs were
conrmed to have M. ovi. Ocers are working with
provincial wildlife veterinarian Dr. Helen Swantje to
test bighorns from the aected herd as part of their
investigation.
Wild sheep advocates have focussed on domestic
sheep as the cause of M. ovi transmission to wild
sheep through direct contact and are pushing the
province to take action, but the BC Sheep
Federation says the issue is complex.
“BCSF would very much like to see a resolution to
the conicts between wild sheep advocates and the
domestic sheep industry concerning pathogen
transfer from domestic sheep to wild sheep, a
statement from the federation says. “BCSF is
committed to developing a path forward based on
sound science and clear thinking.
It says US conservation groups are presenting its
eorts as inadequate.
The Wild Sheep Foundation based in the US
lobbied heavily in the Yukon to achieve a control
order there to restrict sheep and goat farming and
are continuing to do so in Alberta, Alaska and BC,
says the BCSF statement. There is absolutely no
evidence to support the claim that domestic sheep
have caused the recent occurrences of M. ovi in BC
herds of bighorn sheep and until such time that the
science is more conclusive, BCSF is committed to
using best management practices to run our
domestic ocks and being involved in searching for
answers.
Research on M. ovi and the causes of pneumonia
outbreaks in wild sheep are ongoing. Work in
Washington indicates that the pathogen host range
extends beyond the group of ruminants known as
Caprinae, and is found in healthy moose, caribou
and mule deer as well as diseased mule and white-
tailed deer. South Dakota research shows that the
removal of M. ovi positive carriers from within a
bighorn herd resulted in no detection of M. ovi or
pneumonia in herds following removal, indicating
that the existence of M. ovi-positive wild sheep can
allow disease to persist in populations.
BCSF participated in a study Dr. Scott Mann of
Thompson Rivers University undertook in 2017 to
determine the presence of M. ovi in BC’s domestic
sheep ock. The study revealed that of 290 domestic
sheep tested on 29 farms in areas at high risk of
contact with bighorns, 13% tested positive for M. ovi.
The bacteria was present in 31% of the 29 ocks
tested. Of the 100 domestic sheep tested in the
South Okanagan, three sheep tested positive for M.
ovi and all were from one ock.
M. ovi often displays no symptoms in domestic
sheep but it may reduce productivity under some
conditions. M. ovi can be cultured from pneumonic
lungs in domestic sheep and goats, but it is not
considered very pathogenic in domestic ocks and
never kills sheep by itself.
“It is more an indication of poor ventilation and
stocking densities in housed sheep, says University
of Guelph professor of ruminant health
management Dr. Paula Menzies. We don’t see
disease in pastured sheep.
BC has been a leader
Swantje says BC has been a leader in addressing
M. ovi through a collaborative approach with
domestic sheep producers. BCSF is part of an active
working group, along with the BC Goat Association,
Wild Sheep Society, BC Ministry of Agriculture and
BC Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource
Operations and Rural Development.
BC veterinary pathologist Glenna McGregor
acknowledges BCSF’s and the BC Goat Associations
willingness to engage on this issue.
They’ve put in a tremendous amount of time and
eort and have been willing to sit at the table and
explore solutions and that is so important, she says.
“Right now, the working groups goal is to ll the
knowledge gaps and focus on the knowledge gaps.
The organism is common in sheep in BC, and work is
being done to educate the producers and public
and use voluntary measures. The problem is
complicated.
She notes that the issue is contentious across
North America, wherever there are wild sheep. BC is
not alone, but it’s showing leadership on the issue
despite what critics may say.
We’ve had multiple comments from our
American counterparts about how jealous they are
that our sheep and goat industries are willing to
engage with this issue and actively look for
solutions, says McGregor.
A control order put in place in the Yukon restricts
domestic sheep production. McGregor says a control
order in BC is unlikely to be eective, due to its cost
and heavy-handed approach.
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC SEPTEMBER 2020 | 17
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Pandemic creates
virtual season for
4-H clubs
PNE hosts drive-thru event
It’s the year of the drive-thru, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. The PNE reported lots of trafc through its 4-H
and agriculture displays when it opened its gates to vehicle trafc August 22. PHOTO / PNE
Keepsake Ornament
Contest 2020:
Watch for the release of the
2020 design later this fall
October:
Scotiabank
Charity Challenge Virtual
Marathon
November:
Show your 4-H Colours Month
Wear your favourite
green on November 4th to
celebrate 4-H!
4-H British
Columbia
What’s happenning at
this Fall 2020
?
2020
Run, walk
or donate in
support of 4-H BC.
Details at
www.4hbc.ca
by JACKIE PEARASE
VANCOUVER – BC 4-H
groups continue to nd new
ways to show and market
their animals as the season
comes to an end this month.
The PNE went with a virtual
showmanship competition for
beef, swine, dairy, dog, goat,
lamb, rabbit/cavy, poultry,
llama and non-livestock
projects with prize money for
the top three nishers in
junior and senior divisions.
Winners were announced
during the 2020 PNE Drive-
Thru Fair held August 21-30.
PNE organizers invited 10
members of one 4-H club to
attend each day. They trained
their animals, participated in a
mock show and engaged with
visitors in their vehicles.
PNE agriculture manager
Cheryl Chevalier says a small
virtual auction was also added
August 19-20 to aid club
members who could not nd
a private buyer.
We realize that what we
have to oer 4-H members
this year is a fraction of what
we would regularly be able to
oer, but if it helps normalize
things for even just a few
members and helps everyone
get through this dicult and
unexpected time, then it is
worth it to us, Chevalier adds.
Langley 4-H parent Sarah
French registered two of her
sons, Gabriel, 14, and Vincent,
11, for the virtual
showmanship competition
but passed on the auction.
“I think (Vincent) is the only
one in his club that can
actually participate because a
lot of the kids thought it was
cancelled and they had their
pets processed, she notes.
The family typically
supports the auction with a
purchase but this year they
will keep one side of beef and
sell the other.
“It was easier to arrange
private buyers two months
ago than it was to worry
about it once you’ve already
got hundreds of pounds of
beef, French adds.
She said the online option
was a great way to keep 4-H
going for the kids but it did
take some convincing.
“Its been a bit more arm-
twisting for the kids because
theyre in summer mode and
theres not the camaraderie.
For my older son, I kinda had
to beat him up to encourage
him to complete this, she
says. Theres just a lack of
motivation for a lot of the
kids. My kids are lacking
motivation because they are
motivated by the excitement
of peer interaction, not doing
this from afar.
The kids also missed the
mentorship from experienced
members this year, she says.
Invitation-only
The Nechako Valley
Exhibition in mid-August went
ahead with limited 4-H
displays in the yards and an
invitation-only auction.
The Interior Provincial
Exhibition in Armstrong on
August 29 went with a hybrid
event, combining a live
outdoor auction with an
online option.
The BC Ag Expo in Barriere
is hosting a virtual fair and
online auction for 4-H
members September 25-28.
Kamloops’ annual Provincial
Winter Fair will nish its
condensed event this year
with an on-site and online
auction held September 28.
In late July, the BC Ministry
of Agriculture announced it
was supporting an adapted
Food for Thought program
this summer. The conference
was held as six one-day
agriculture awareness
programs for 4-H members
aged 14 to 15.
Virtual farm tours and
agricultural presentations for
small groups were oered in
Abbotsford, Rock Creek,
Kamloops, Williams Lake,
Vanderhoof and Saanich.
BC 4-H manager Aleda
Welch said the organization
worked hard to adapt 4-H
programs and events to meet
pandemic regulations.
Were having to really
stretch this year. We hope the
4-H community is getting a
good experience from this
but we do hope things are
back to normal next year, she
adds.
To further support 4-H over
the next year, the BC
government is providing
$87,000 in annual funding,
$63,000 for youth farm safety
and outreach programs to
support underrepresented
groups, and $3,000 for a Buy
BC 4-H Instagram contest that
encourages 4-H members to
celebrate BC products on
social media.
18 | SEPTEMBER 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
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Potatoes grow on part of a 50-acre farm at the Southlands development in Tsawwassen. PHOTO / COLLEEN BURKE
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC SEPTEMBER 2020 | 19
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DELTA – An ambitious
farm-oriented residential
development launches in
Tsawwassen this month in
what promises to be a
landmark test of whether
farming can be an integral
part of the urban fabric.
Were trying to foster this
idea of people coming
together around food. Its not
just the farming or the
farmers market. Its trying to
gure out how we curate that
down to the scale of where
people live, says Sean
Hodgins, president of Century
Group, which plans to build
950 homes on the Southlands
property formerly farmed by
the Spetifore family.
The project has attracted
10,000 registrants. Although
just a few hundred are likely
to be serious buyers, Hodgins
considers the response very,
very good.
At a very simplistic level I
think they say, ‘yeah, that’s
good, he says. “It’ll be
interesting to see how deep
the connection is.
The history of farmland
and development in Delta is
typically one-sided. Some
members of the Delta
Farmers Institute have
quipped that “blacktop is the
last crop as hundreds of acres
of farmland have disappeared
under commercial, industrial
and port development in
recent years.
But after several long and
contentious public hearing
processes, a deal was struck in
2014 that saw 20% of the 535-
acre property designated for
residential development
while the remainder was
given to the municipality for
green space. Approximately
275 acres was placed in the
Agricultural Land Reserve,
and of this, 50 acres is being
leased by the Century Group
for the community farm at
the heart of the new
development.
“[Delta] got a very good
deal out of this, says Hodgins,
which paid the municipality
$9 million to upgrade
irrigation infrastructure so the
property could be farmed.
With the launch of sales
this month, beginning with
76 townhomes and cottages,
public response to the
concept is being put to the
test. The community farm
operated by Seann Dory,
formerly of SOLE Food Street
Farms in Vancouver, and
partner Suzy Keown, will
anchor an on-site farmers’
market that begins mid
September.
“It could really move things
forward by a decade in the
way that we think about
localized agriculture, project
manager Brad Semke said
when the development
received approval in 2014.
Hodgins inspirations for
Southlands was in part the
Serenbe development in
Atlanta, which was also an
example of how people don’t
always come for whats
oered.
The reality is, many people
were just coming for the
homes, says Hodgins. We’ll
see how we make out. …
We’ve joked – we haven’t put
it in our marketing material –
but, ‘Southlands may not be
for you. … Having the tractors
going at 6:30 in the morning
may not be the thing.
But he also steps back and
says an agrihood isnt a
community unto itself. To
really work, and for the
farming component to be
more than a local amenity,
the development has to be
integrated into the local
fabric. This is something the
development’s location
promises to make possible.
What we’re counting on is
not the 950 homes were
going to be building to make
our farmers market hum. Its
the 20,000 people in
Tsawwassen and the
unbelieveable number of
people that come out to
Boundary Bay Regional Park
Delta development puts agrihoods to the test
Developers need to show a net
benefit to agriculture
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20 | SEPTEMBER 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
each summer weekend, says
Hodgins. “Its gone nuts,
especially in this pandemic.
Other developments
The project follows on
proposals in the mid-2000s
for vineyard-oriented
developments in the
Okanagan. Most of them
failed to be realized when the
nancial crisis hit, but Frosst
Creek Development Ltd. in
Chilliwack has found success
with Creekside Mills at Cultus
Lake.
Built on a former cattle
farm, the project worked
closely with the Agricultural
Land Commission and Fraser
Valley Regional District to
achieve a net benet to
agriculture.
Ten acres of the 79-acre
site is in production, with
lavender, vegetables, wine
grapes, tree fruits, nuts and
other crops. A three-acre
community garden oers 80
garden boxes and a Langley
winery may use some of the
wine grapes this year. Some
of the produce is sent to local
community organizations.
“Everything is edible, cutable or pickable in terms
of the common area, says Steven Van Geel, whose
family is developing the site. “Everybody who
bought in here had probably never heard of the
Agricultural Land Commission before, but they got
heavily educated. … A lot of them are embracing it.
Similar to Century Group, the Van Geels worked
closely to ensure a portion of the property would
be farmed. The entire property was originally zoned
for agriculture, and an exclusion of four acres was
required for the residential portion.
But a restrictive covenant was placed on six acres
outside the ALR that limit future uses to those
allowed by the Agricultural Land Commission Act.
The odd shape of the acreage meant it wasn’t
included in the ALR but the ALC worked with the
Fraser Valley Regional District
to ensure it was protected.
“If we were just to take
land out and not give
anything back, I’m sure they
would have denied us
completely, says Van Geel.
They saw this as increased
agricultural capacity for a site
that was otherwise a run-
down farm.
The experience sets a
precedent for a 43-acre site in
Agassiz, known locally as the
Teacup properties. An
agrihood development is one
option for the site, says the
District of Kent, noting it
accommodates the
residential growth of the
townsite while incorporating
the agricultural signicance of
the land. It describes it as an
innovative compromise and
has led an exclusion
application for the site.
Neither the District of Kent
nor Neal teBrinke, who has
spoken on behalf of the
owners, responded to
requests for comment.
Van Geel says developers
trying to exclude land from
the ALR for such projects face
more challenges making their case for a net benet
to agriculture. The diculties aren’t insurmountable,
however.
We got a little bit lucky in that the whole land
wasn’t in the reserve, he says. They could use this
as a template, to see what we did. … If you follow
through with what you say, it could turn out into
something really special.
Hoe, hoe, hoe! Community participation supports food production at Creekside Mills in Cultus Lake. PHOTO / CREEKSIDE
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The provincial government is proposing a three-tier system to regulate livestock watering on private and Crown
range. PHOTO / KARI-LYNN HOFFMAN
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC SEPTEMBER 2020 | 21
Three-tier system
being floated for
livestock watering
Proposed policy stops short of
water guarantees
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by TOM WALKER
VICTORIA – The province
released an update on its
proposed livestock watering
policy at the end of July.
The document is the most
recent step in a process that
has been on-going for the last
10 years as BC ranchers seek
assurance that their animals
will have access to water at all
times, particularly when they
are on Crown range.
BC’s Ministry of
Environment and Climate
Change Strategy is proposing
a policy to classify and
regulate cattle watering on
three tiers, based on the
location and number of cattle
accessing the water.
On private land, ranchers
may water up to 20 cattle as a
Tier 1 user, without
registration. Users with
between 20 and 200 animals
fall into Tier 2. Watering more
than 200 animals requires
authorization as a Tier 3 user,
which must include approval
from Indigenous governments
and may take into account
environmental ow needs.
Registration for Tier 2 users
will be a streamlined process
the policy update says. Tier 3
users will receive a full licence.
Both tiers will pay water rental
fees, and be regulated on a
rst in time, rst in right basis
during times of scarcity.
The policy update provides
some of the assurances that
the BC Cattlemens
Association has been seeking,
says assistant general manager
Elaine Stovin. BCCA does have
a number of concerns, however.
We are concerned about
the extra regulatory burden
that registration and
authorization will place on
both ranchers and the
province, she says, noting
there have been a number of
challenges around
groundwater licensing.
She points out that fewer
than a quarter of the 4,000-
odd groundwater licence
applications have been
completed by the province
since 2016.
Rather than the blanket
approach being applied
across the province, BCCA
would prefer registration
requirements be based on the
amount of water available in
an area, recognizing the
dierences between the
eastern Cariboo and the south
Okanagan, for example.
We are suggesting that the
government look at a risk-
assessed approach based on
what they did with ag waste
regulations, Stovin says. “In
areas of higher risk and more
frequent shortages, they
might look towards a licence
approach.
The province has stopped
short of guaranteeing water
for livestock welfare in times
of shortage.
The province is engaging
with the livestock sector on a
proposal to amend the WSA
so that water security can be
provided to the sector. The
proposal would allow
provincial decision-makers to
assign water rights to ranchers
that recognize their historic
use of water, the BC Ministry
of Environment and Climate
Change Strategy explained in
a statement provided to
Country Life in BC.
We would be happy to see
if they would provide some
protection for livestock
drinking water in times of
scarcity, says Stovin.
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22 | SEPTEMBER 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
Short-term roller
coaster for beef
market
Global marketplace supports
long-term optimism
What will your calves be worth this fall? Two speakers at the CBIC conference originally slated for Penticton in
August, but delivered online, tried to provide answers. FILE PHOTO
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC SEPTEMBER 2020 | 23
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PENTICTON – The markets
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featured presentations from
Canfax manager and senior
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Stuart, president of Colorado-
based market research rm
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Perillat found it hard to give
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question on every BC
producers mind – What will
my calves be worth in the
next couple of months?”
however Stuart was very
bullish on the prospects for
beef in world markets in the
coming years. International
markets are very important for
the Canadian cattle industry,
Perillat notes, considering 45%
of all Canadian cattle and beef
is exported.
Perillat describes the
current Canadian cattle
market as a roller coaster.
We’ve been going on the
y for 2020 that’s for sure, he
says. There is always some
sort of roller coaster going on,
but this has been a darn
extreme roller coaster.
There has been a pretty
good recovery from the
depths of the pandemic
Perillat says, adding, Things
are looking up a little more
than they were earlier this
summer.
That’s something considering
what has happened over the
last ve months.
There are a number of
factors producers need to
watch in terms of cattle
numbers and the impact that
can have on the market,
Perillat says.
To begin with, there were
9% more cattle on feed in
Western Canada at the start of
the year than in 2019, but that
was in response to increased
feeding capacity, more
slaughter capacity and higher
slaughter numbers.
“2019 was one of our
biggest slaughter years in
decades, says Perillat.
But with plant interruptions
and closures due to the
COVID-19 pandemic, the
number of cattle able to be
processed in April this year
was a multi-decades low of
only 20,000 head compared to
70,000 in March 2020.
Processing plants have
bounced back and in the two
months ending mid-August
were able to process more
See BOUNCING on next page
o
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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
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24 | SEPTEMBER 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
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cattle than in the same period
in 2019.
The packers have done
very well at focusing on fed
cattle rather than cows, notes
Perillat. They have been able
to work somewhat through
the backlog of animals in the
feedlots and some animals
have gone east and south.
Perillat expects that to
continue.
We are picking away at
[the backlog] and we may see
non-fed cattle stay on grass
through the fall if the weather
cooperates for grazing
conditions, he says. “But we
did place 150,000 more calves
on feed last fall and my
caution is that those calves
are out there, and it is adding
some pressure to the market.
US markets are showing
good strength, more so than
Canada, he adds.
Their year-on-year feed
numbers did not have the
year-over-year increase we are
stuck with and they are in a
little bit better shape working
through their backlog, he
explains.
Overall, the industry has
been eective at slowing
cattle feeding down.
“Carcass weights are in line
with a year ago, even a little
below, so that is not
suggesting the backlog is as
pressing on the market as
anticipated, Perillat says. “It
shows we are able to market
the cattle we need to and
manage feeding programs. I
think we are going to manage
through it, but those cattle are
still out there.
Fed cattle prices were by far
the hardest hit with some of
the lowest levels in a decade.
We treaded into the 120s
and we are still in the 130
range, Perillat says.
Those numbers are not
totally unprecedented for the
summertime, but with the
numbers of cattle left to
move, that is going to limit
the upside for September and
October when all the calves
hit the market.
Calf prices are stable now in
the 2.20 range, Perillat says.
There are a lot of positive
market fundamentals from
the demand side and the
supply side as we head into
2021, he notes. And we may
see better prices return.
However, with feedlots
sustaining losses as they are
now with fed cattle prices well
below a year ago, there is
concern heading into the fall
run, he adds.
The pressures of losses in
the feedlot sector ($200-$300
an animal) may weigh on calf
prices in the fall, he says. The
question is, are feedlots going
to continue to bet on the
market rising in 2021?”
While the cow-calf operator
has had some protable years,
margins have shrunk since
2015, Perillat says.
“Heading into 2020 fall run,
they had a fairly expensive
winter due to feed costs, he
says. “Margins continue to
shrink but they are not the
huge losses they see at the
feed-lot level and may be near
break-even depending on
operations.
Canadian herd numbers
stabilized after the protable
years of 2014-15, inuenced
by some areas of drought
from 2017 through to 2019.
“Calf numbers continue to
shrink and we now have less
calves coming to market
during the fall run, Perillat
says. “But the US does have
herd numbers so there will be
cattle out there.
With the loonie creeping
up towards 76 cents versus
the US dollar, Perillat says
ranchers will see an impact.
“I always use the rule of
thumb, when the loonie goes
up a penny, that impacts our
calf prices four to ve cents a
pound.
“If you are selling calves a
huge impact for feedlots is the
feed costs, he says. “If feed
costs do come down, that
could support our calf prices.
Perillat says futures are
projecting higher prices in
2021 than in 2020.
The futures are not as high
as last year at this time, but
they are up substantially, he
says. “It could be both
optimism or reality that
supply can align.
When looking at futures,
Perillat says the $2.00 calf level
always comes back to roost.
“Despite all the challenges
in the market, there is still
support at those levels., he
says.
That number is not as high
as it has been but not a
disaster, either.
There is pretty good
support at $2.00, but lots of
risk in the market, he says.
We can’t rule out any of the
supply chain issues that we
have seen. Hopefully, the
market can see past the
headwinds of the fall and look
positive for 2021.
BOUNCING back nfrom page 23
Beef
prices up
Beef prices rose faster than
any other grocery item sold in
BC during the COVID-19
pandemic.
Statistics Canada reports
that BC retail prices for
stewing beef rose 41% in the
four months ended June
versus the pre-pandemic
average, reaching to $19.68
per kilogram. Striploin cuts,
the most expensive grocery
item at $33.93 per kilogram,
also rose 41%.
On a month to month basis,
beef prices staged the largest
monthly increase since May
1982.
This followed the COVID-
19-related closure of several
large beef processing plants
and the reduction in operating
capacity at other plants, in
both April and May, Statscan
noted.
Pork plants also closed as a
result of COVID-19 outbreaks
and prices in BC rose
signicantly during the period,
though less sharply than beef
prices. Pork loin cuts were the
most impacted, rising 30% to
$11.76 per kilogram.
Chicken was largely
unaected by plant closures
but saw prices drop as
producers scrambled to ad-
dress lower demand from
foodservice channels. Chicken
cuts fell 2% to 5%, with
chicken breasts impacted the
least. Breasts averaged $13.02
per kilogram in BC, down 2%
during the pandemic but 2%
higher than June 2019.
—Peter Mitham
Market analysts are hopeful the global demand for protein will help with fall prices. FILE PHOTO / LIZ TWAN
Global outlook
is bright for beef
producers
Disease outbreaks are boosting
demand for available protein
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC SEPTEMBER 2020 | 25
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by TOM WALKER
PENTICTON – While Brett
Stuart calls the current global
beef market an “unprecedented”
situation, he says there is
much to feel positive about
when you take a long-term
view of global markets.
“If you are under 30, you
have never seen the kind of
losses we are seeing in the
cattle markets, says Stuart,
president of Colorado-based
market research rm Global
Agritrends, in his address to
the Canadian Beef Industry
Conference in August.
Stuart says there are two
biological
Black Swans in the
world these days: COVID-19
and African Swine Fever.
When we combine the
two, it is a staggering market
situation, he says.
Yet Stuart feels these are
both temporary crises that do
not aect the long-term
world outlook for protein.
COVID-19 has clearly
interrupted the beef supply
chain.
There are currently 1.5
million cattle backed up in
feedlots in the US, Stuart
explains, and they’ll remain
there for months.
COVID-19 has moved
consumers away from
restaurants to retail, but a
solid underlying demand for
beef remains.
America says, ‘Don’t short
us on beef, Stuart says. We
will pay more for beef.
Stuart noted a lot of “noise
and confusion around the
novel coronavirus that causes
COVID-19.
“It is still too early to make
bold predictions about COVID
and protein impacts three, six,
or even 12 months out, he
says.
African Swine Fever has
been a gamechanger for
global protein, Stuart says.
One third of the global
swine herd died last year, and
75% of the world’s hogs are
threatened. ASF is now in
Europe, centred in Poland,
and appears to be moving
towards Germany, a major EU
pork producer.
“It is a very strong virus for
which there is no vaccine,
says Stuart. They are building
fences in Poland to curb the
movement of wild boars
across the country.
China, the world’s largest
consumer of pork, has
suered the most from ASF.
The country has lost 60% of
its swine herd and become a
massive protein importer.
“Chinas imports of pork,
poultry and beef have soared
to US$2.2 billion per month
now, says Stuart. “But that is
not enough to ll the gap and
the Chinese consumer will
simply be eating less protein.
The gap should be more of
a market opportunity than it
is.
“If I went out to the cattle
world and said one third of
the global beef herd is going
to be dead this year, cattle
futures would go through the
roof, Stuart notes.
Chinese consumers are
paying ve to six times the US
retail pork price. While this
should create a prime market
opportunity for exporters,
Stuart notes that China is not
a free-market economy.
The politics in China is
restricting access to their
market, he says.
Chinese beef demand will
drive more imports, Stuart
believes. Greater China
(China, Hong Kong and
Vietnam) will buy US$16
billion worth of beef this year,
more than double four years
ago. A lot of that is from the
southern hemisphere, but
Stuart says its still positive for
the global market.
“COVID and ASF are the
here and now, Stuart says.
That, of course, is what
absorbs our time but if you
look at the long-term picture,
there is cause for optimism.
The global beef herd has
not grown for the last four
years, Stuart says. Growth in
North America is at and
Australia is recovering from
several years of drought.
But the world’s population
continues to grow, consumer
spending will increase and
Stuart expects a global
protein shortage will result.
“I don’t think we can
produce enough to meet the
demand, says Stuart. “More
food may be consumed in the
next 100 years than was
consumed in the last 7,000
years.
From where he stands,
everything looks pretty solid.
“I think we are going to be
shipping beef to China in the
second half of the year. Its a
great time to be a farmer, he
says.
Five grants awarded to on-farm
projects in Shuswap
26 | SEPTEMBER 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
by JACKIE PEARASE
SHUSWAP – The Shuswap
Watershed Council is putting
its money where its vision is.
SWC, a collaborative, non-
regulatory program, is
promoting “enhanced water
quality that supports human
and ecosystem health and the
local economy in the Shuswap
watershed” with $65,470 in
grants to ve farm-based
water quality improvement
projects.
The organization approved
the grants after a call for
submissions from landowners
and farmers for nutrient
management initiatives to
help keep nutrients on land
and out of the water.
The results of a joint
research project with UBC
Okanagan helped direct the
grant program.
The research team
collected and analyzed water
samples from 100 dierent
sites along the Shuswap and
Salmon rivers over three years.
The studys results points to
small streams, ditches,
groundwater and surface
water run-o in valley
bottoms as key contributors
of nutrient-rich water to the
two rivers. Agricultural uses
contribute more nutrients on
a per-acre basis than other
types of land use.
Mike and Sarah Schroeder
received funding to further
their eorts at using cover
crops to capture nutrients and
improve soil health.
The couple grow certied
organic grains and some
forage crops for food and
animal feed as well as produce
eggs at Lakeland Farms next
to the Salmon River just
outside Salmon Arm. They
expect to have their 300-acre
farm entirely under cover
crops this winter.
Mike Schroeder says the
grant will help Lakeland
demonstrate the benets of
cover crops to farmers and the
environment.
We do generate a bunch
of nitrogen with cover crops.
We also activate phosphorus
with some of our cover crops
like buckwheat. And we
capture nutrients and hold
them in place instead of
letting it leach away during
the winter, he notes. “I do
want to show that farmers are
being proactive; if there is a
problem coming from farms,
that theyre being proactive in
dealing with it.
Rewarding such proactive
eorts is the aim of a project
the BC Cattlemens
Mike Schroeder of Lakeland Farms planted buckwheat to replace a eld of underperforming corn this season. The
cover crop will be plowed under once it goes to seed to provide a winter cover crop that will improve soil health
while helping to prevent soil erosion into the Salmon River. PHOTO / JACKIE PEARASE
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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
Association is undertaking in
partnership with the Splatsin
First Nation with the
assistance of an $18,200 grant.
BCCA program manager
Lee Hesketh says the project
to upgrade fencing to exclude
livestock from riparian areas
will rst seek out farmers and
ranchers who initiated riparian
area fencing projects on their
own or with the regional
Salmon River Watershed
Roundtable in the late 1990s
to early 2000s.
The project starts with
producers along the Salmon
River who want fence posts at
no charge to maintain or
improve existing fencing.
“I think it’s a good way of
the Splatsin getting out and
working with the farming and
ranching community to
promote stewardship and
getting something done on
the ground as well to help the
people who have invested for
quite a few years already, says
Hesketh. The goal is, if this
works, if we get uptake on it,
to keep it rolling for several
years both on the Salmon
River and the Shuswap River
as well.
At Swaan Farms, Neil Swaan
has completed the installation
of a Harvestore system that
pumps euent from a
manure pile into a tank for
reuse as fertilizer.
“Not only is it a benet to
the environment by keeping
run-o out of the water, its
also a way for the farm to
collect nutrient-rich euent
for appropriate use later,
Swaan says.
Enhanced on-farm nutrient
management is the focus of a
project at Grass Roots Dairies,
where Gary and Kathy
Wikkerink are moving a
nutrient-laden water storage
facility to a concrete structure.
Merel and Barrie Voth of
Hillside Dreams Goat Dairy
have already started their
project, which received the
largest grant of $20,500. It
includes ood mitigation,
bank stabilization and
improved manure
management systems,
including holding ponds.
SWC chair Paul Demonek
says the council has a duty to
act on the research ndings.
“Our water quality here is
still quite good, and through
working together we hope to
keep it that way, states
Demenok. The last thing we
want is to look back 10 or 20
years from now and think, We
really should’ve done
something sooner.
SWC directors and invited
guests will tour the project
sites this fall.
A continuation of the grant
program next year is at the
discretion of the council.
A summary of the nutrient
research done in partnership
with UBC Okanagan is
available at
[www.shuswapwater.ca].
Council supports
efforts to improve
water quality
1-888-770-7333
BILL
AWMACK
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC SEPTEMBER 2020 | 27
Find resources to prevent injuries at worksafebc.com/agriculture
An effective health and safety plan involves everyone.
The planning decisions you make today can affect the health and safety of workers tomorrow.
Newer orchardist takes on key ministry role
Arts believes knowledge transfer is key to success of tree fruit and grape industries
by MYRNA STARK LEADER
SUMMERLAND – Adrian
Arts, a self-taught Summerland
apple and cherry grower, is
the BC Ministry of Agricultures
new tree fruit and grape
specialist.
Arts succeeds Carl Withler,
who retired in March after
more than ve years in the
role.
Arts grew up in Victoria and
worked in the restaurant
industry before returning to
school and studying geology
at Lakehead University in
Thunder Bay. Graduating in
2014, his plans to work in the
oil sector fell at so in spring
2015 he took a job at Carcajou
Fruit Company Ltd. in
Summerland. He had no
agriculture experience.
Owners Jan and Keith Carlson
told him he might be
overqualied for orchard
work, but gave him a shot.
That rst pruning season, I
fell in love with farming, says
Arts. “I had no idea how to
grow cherries but they were ...
willing to share their
knowledge and helped me network with other
farmers.
“He liked the variety of tasks, says Keith Carlson.
There isn't a daily routine. Every season is dierent.
Adrian likes growing food … We paid him a wage to
work for us, and he worked hard.
We tend to hire people for their attitude and
work ethic rather than their knowledge about
agriculture. With the right attitude, a farm worker
can learn the skills on the job, adds Jan Carlson.
Arts began assembling land
when the Carlsons introduced
him to retiring orchardist
David Lane. Lane, a cherry
breeder at the Summerland
Research and Development
Centre from 1974 to 1994, was
part of the team that
developed the Sentennial,
Stacatto and Sweetheart
varieties that laid the
foundation for BCs sweet
cherry industry. He leased Arts
an acre of cherries and two
acres of Asian pears to give
him a start in the business.
One day, Lorraine Bennest
from Bennest Orchards
stopped by his orchard and
introduced herself.
“She said, ‘I’m Lorraine. I’ve
been farming for 40 years and
you need to talk to my brother
because he wants to retire, he
recalls.
Bennest introduced Arts to
her brother, Gord Shandler of
Shandler Orchards, and he
eventually took over his
property, too.
Arts now leases ve
properties which he operates
under the banner of his
consulting company, Kamla Orchard Management.
These include an acre of 30-year-old Lapins cherries,
an acre of pears and eight acres of 15 to 20-year-old
When plans to work in the oil sector fell through, Adrian Arts took a job at an orchard. In a few short years, he’s
become the BC Ministry of Agriculture’s new tree fruit and grape specialist. PHOTO / MYRNA STARK LEADER
See PLANS on next page
o
Touring Okanagan orchards and asking lots of questions has fast-tracked a steep learning curve for Adrian Arts.
He’s growing a variety of fruit on several parcels in the Okanagan. PHOTO / MYRNA STARK LEADER
PLANS to expand nfrom page 27
28 | SEPTEMBER 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
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apple trees, largely super-
spindle Ambrosia and some
Salish.
He wants to expand his
Salish production. To help
condense his harvest season
from mid-August to October,
hes planning to plant seven
acres of late-season cherries.
Hes also considering peaches
to ll a niche market, as well as
some more pears to bring the
fruit back to public attention.
His sales are diversied to
cushion market impacts.
Some fruit is packed on farm
but most is sold through
private packers who ship
domestically and for export.
Everything’s an experiment
With his science education
and love of learning, Arts
thinks of everything he does
as an experiment. In his rst
year, he visited more than 50
orchards. He would ask other
growers who the best and
worst producers were, then he
would go visit them. Most
were happy to let him watch,
and learn.
“Many producers aren’t
technically trained in farming.
We don’t have a tree fruit
school in the Okanagan, he
says. They’ve spent their
whole lives honing their craft
so having someone they call
young – at almost 40 –
wanting to learn farming, they
are excited and generous with
their knowledge.
Although farmers produce
similar products, he says
everyone farms a bit
dierently. With so many
variables, each has something
to teach.
“Everyone wants you to
succeed. They take so much
pride in what they do and
know the industry is going
through a shake-up and they
want to do what they can to
provide information to help
the next generation, he
explains.
Hes hopeful being a farmer
himself will be a benet to his
new job. He needs to learn
more about grapes, but he
plans to nd the best and
worst growers, just as he did
with tree fruits.
His new role means he’ll be
busier since he does most of
his own orchard work right
now. He learns to do by doing
and wants to perfect
something before hiring sta
to take on the task. As an
example, he learned to
manage his scion-rooted,
overgrown Ambrosia trees
and their unripening fruit by
applying growth regulators,
and following the summer
pruning, watering and
fertilizing plan he learned
from other producers.
Arts’ has also benetted
from his industry work. He
chaired Summerland’s
agricultural advisory
committee, was vice-chair of
the New Tree Fruit Variety
Development Council, and
represented the BC Fruit
Growers Association on the
Okanagan Water Stewardship
Council that advises the
Okanagan Basin Water Board.
While some farmers
question his commitment to
and time spent with
committee work, Arts has
observed some disconnect
between farmers and
decision-makers and hopes to
help bridge that, particularly
with some of the challenges
facing the industry. He cites
climatic shifts, a lack of new
apple varieties and annual
decreases in grower returns.
There are no easy answers
but hopefully if everyone puts
their heads together and is
working together, a solution
can come from it, he says.
Arts hopes Canadians
increasingly recognize the Buy
BC label and see value in
supporting local producers of
apples, grapes and value-
added products. Producers
also need to step up and
embrace innovation and new
varieties.
“If we’re serious about the
apple industry, we really have
to think about what’s new and
be cutting edge, he says.
Its clear that Arts wants to
make a real dierence. He tells
the story of talking with Carl
Withler at a cherry association
meeting during Carl’s rst
month as tree fruit specialist
in 2014.
“I was thinking, this guy has
a very interesting job because
you can talk to everyone, get
information and maybe make
some positive change. Now, I
have the opportunity.
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC SEPTEMBER 2020 | 29
by SARBMEET SINGH
ABBOTSFORD – Blueberry
growers have turned to
mechanical harvesting in
unprecedented numbers this
year due to a shortage of
labour and impacts of COVID-
19.
While growers usually
employ thousands of hand
harvesters, this year saw
hundreds of machines
harvesting berries across the
Fraser Valley.
Although farmers have
been using machines for
several years, many did so out
of necessity this year rather
than choice.
Sarbjit Kaur Gill from Prairie
Fruit Farm in Chilliwack says
he was forced to lease a berry
harvester this season.
We have Duke and
Bluecrop varieties at our farm.
Usually, we prefer rst picking
with hands while the second
picking is performed with the
machines. However, due to
shortage of labour, we used a
machine for the rst picking
as well, he says. “I feel this was
a very bad year for the
farmers. Firstly, we couldn’t
procure the machine and
secondly, the wet condition of
the eld made operating it a
challenge, causing us great
nancial loss.
Rajinder Singh Lally, owner
of Lally Farms in Abbotsford,
believes mechanical harvesting is the future of berry
picking.
The delay in picking results in over-ripening of
berries, which leads to a decline in price of the fruit.
As there was a shortage of labour, we used three
machines per farm to pick the fruit. From this
experience, I feel that machines are a more cost-
eective alternative and we are planning to
purchase more machines in the coming years, says
Lally.
But the results don’t please everyone.
“I have been engaged in agriculture for 40 years.
Last year, we used machines on less than 10% of our
acreage but this year approximately 40% of our
acreage was picked by machines. We deal in the
fresh market but this year, I had to go for processing
due to mechanized harvesting, says one
disappointed Abbotsford farmer, who did not want
to be named.
Cost savings
Mechanized picking and hand picking each have
their advantages, the chief one being cost.
While hand picking costs around 50 to 60 cents
per pound, mechanical harvesting costs just 15 to 20
cents a pound. Hand picking is much slower in
comparison to mechanized picking. On average, one
picker can pick up to 400 pounds of berries whereas
a machine can pick up to three acres in a day, or
upwards of 60,000 pounds of berries.
Despite the apparent advantages, mechanized
picking does have a downside. Machine-harvested
berries are mostly used for processing and the prices
for processed berries are much less compared to the
fresh market.
“In the fresh market, blueberries can be sold at $1
to $2 per pound during the season. On the other
hand, the processed berries can fetch up to 60 to 65
cents per pound only. While it saves the picking cost,
there is a decline in the prots made from the
mechanically harvested berry," says Kerry Seale, from
Blueberry Junction in Abbotsford. We felt the
labour pains during the previous years. So, we
decided to grow some varieties that can be easily
picked with machines.
The labour issues associated with COVID-19 have
more growers considering such moves this year.
“Due to CERB and COVID, there was a huge
shortage of labour. Many farmers opted for
mechanized picking this year, says Anju Gill,
executive director of the BC Blueberry Council. “In
case of mechanized harvesting, prior arrangements
like pruning are required well ahead of the
harvesting. Due to lack of these arrangements, it led
to ineective picking by machines also. However, at
the same time, there are some growers that grow
berries for processing only and they always pick
using the machines.
Parm Bains, president of Westberry Farms in
Abbotsford, says machines have been popular
among farmers for several years as farmers looked to
cut costs as production has grown and labour costs
have risen.
There has been a signicant rise in the
production and acres of blueberries in British
Columbia during the last few decades. In the 80s, we
had 20 million pounds of berries and last year we
had over 200 million pounds, says Bains. Around
17,000 to 18,000 workers are needed but only
around 6,000 pickers are available. More and more
machines are coming to the market every year as
farmers are trying to save money on picking side.
The shortage of pickers was front-and-centre this
year due to COVID-19, among other factors.
“Farmers struggled to pick berries, says Bains.
“Fields were wet. Besides labour, machines were also
not available in time.
While more berries went to processing, Bains says
it’s dicult to gauge the impact on grower revenues.
At this moment we are hoping for better prices
in comparison to last year, he says.
Unprecedented rise in machine harvesting
COVID-19 labour shortage accelerates mechanization trend among berry growers
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Linda and Kerry Seale stand by the harvester used for picking berries at Blueberry Junction in Abbotsford. PHOTO / SARBMEET SINGH
30 | SEPTEMBER 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
by RONDA PAYNE
MOUNT VERNON, WA –
Blueberries need a soft
landing and soon, equipment
manufacturer Oxbo
International Corp. will have
commercially available over-
the-row harvesters modied
to facilitate rmer fresh berries
post-storage.
A study at Washington State
Universitys Small Fruit
Horticulture Research and
Extension Program in Mount
Vernon focused on rening
the catch plate structure and
material to reduce the amount
of berry bruising during
harvest.
The greatest impact a berry
experiences, and therefore the
greatest risk of bruising that
leads to softness, is the drop
from the plant to the machines
catch plate during harvest.
We’ve been working on
harvester technology for a
long time, says Kathryn Van
Weerdhuizen, market
manager, berry, vineyard and
olives with Oxbo. Were in our
fourth season of working with
Lisa [DeVetter] and Dr.
[Fumiomi] Takeda with the
USDA.
The project began through
the USDA but the Washington
and Oregon state agriculture
departments have funded it in
the last two seasons. DeVetter,
an assistant professor with
WSU, and her masters student
Yixin Cai have learned in
collaboration with Oxbo that
a softer landing surface is
more important than
reducing the drop height.
Replacing the material on
the catch plate and
suspending it to include an air
gap reduces the impact as
berries land in the collection
area of the harvester. The
material used this year was
softer and rubbery to the
touch.
This is the fourth iteration
of the material, explains
Weerdhuizen. “Its got good
longevity in the eld.
Reducing damage to
machine-harvested fruit is a
concern of Agriculture and
Agri-Food Canada berry
researcher Michael Dossett,
who says the modications
make sense. He believes
growers will adopt Oxbos
technology.
“Its tremendously exciting,
he says. At the end of the day,
I think it’s the one to be the
most successful.
He says it may not be a
silver bullet, but it will
denitely be better than
what's currently available.
“Even if this machine
doesn’t get us fully there in
terms of machine harvest for
fresh, I think that any
improvements you make in
terms of the shock of the
berry hitting things inside the
machine is going to improve
quality, he says.
Cai says this years harvest
is showing promising results.
There is more dierence in
the rmness, she says. A lot of
local growers, they are very
interested in this harvester.
The grower who worked with
us this year, they are happy
with the result. … They will
probably purchase the
[modied] harvester after this
season.
Duke and Draper varieties
showed improved rmness
after storage in 2019
compared to berries collected
using a conventional
harvester. Results for 2020
appear similar.
The rst pick of blueberries
this season didn’t show a
signicant dierence in
rmness from those collected
with a conventional harvester.
However, there were statistical
dierences in berry rmness
in those from the second pick.
“Starting from day seven to
day 14, you can start to see
statistical dierences, Cai says.
“I think that this is a promising
result.
Hand-harvested berries will
still have the best results in
terms of rmness but machine
harvestability has grown in
importance with increased
labour costs and the reduced
availability of pickers. The
modied Oxbo harvester may
provide growers with a new
option for harvesting fresh
berries that reduces the
reliance on hand-harvesters.
“Historically, the biggest
advancements in mechanical
harvest of horticultural crops
have been through a
combination of innovative
engineering like this and
genetic improvement, says
Dossett. “One of those will
only get you so far. If you do
both of them in tandem, you
can do a lot of things.
Dossett’s research
continues to look at
producing varieties that
machine harvest better than
existing varieties. While the
modied catch plate is
important, research on other
aspects of fresh fruit
harvesting will continue in BC.
“It would be unwise of us to
change one thing and say
okay we xed it’ and ignore
the others, says Dossett.
Weerdhuizen agrees, saying
there is no one single element
that will remove bruising
issues. Rather it is several
factors that each will lead to
better quality.
She anticipates commercial
sales of Oxbo harvesters with
the softer catch plate will
begin in 2021. The ability to
machine harvest fresh fruit
and sell it or ship it with fewer
concerns of quality expands
markets available to growers
and increases protability.
We have multiple
[growers] using the modied
machines, says Weerdhuizen.
“It reduces impact to a level
that we don’t see the bruising
under the skin. It gives it a
longer shelf life.
Softer landings mean better blueberries
A modified harvester catch plate results in firmer fresh fruit after storage
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Province readies sprayer program for delivery
Hands-on approach runs headlong into COVID-19 protocols
by MYRNA STARK LEADER
KELOWNA – A new train-the-trainer
sprayer calibration course developed by
the BC Ministry of Agriculture is ready,
but delivering the course – which
includes a hands-on component – in a
way that respects public health
protocols is proving a challenge.
A lot of growers go through a basic
calibration, but wed like to see a more
detailed one, says Ken Sapsford,
pesticide specialist with the BC Ministry
of Agriculture.
The province spent $100,000 over
three years to develop the new course,
which addresses the use of backpack,
boom and air blast sprayers. The three-
day course gives participants the
information needed to calibrate spray
equipment and share that knowledge
with others, extending the reach of the
provinces extension and support services.
In addition to ensuring properly
calibrated equipment to meet Canada
GAP guidelines for fresh fruit and
vegetables, the course promises to help
applicators navigate the often tricky
interface between rural and urban properties.
The course material was drafted by two
consultants. Then, University of Alberta professor
emeritus Linda Hall, a specialist in weed science with
the school’s Faculty of Agricultural, Life and
Environmental Sciences, reviewed and modied the
content.
“I put more emphasis on the technical aspects of
spraying calibration, like nozzle choice which
inuences droplet size, canopy penetration to
reduce drift and give better pest control, says Hall.
The course was piloted at sessions in Kelowna and
Chilliwack in March, prior to COVID-19. Sapsford says
several key changes were made as a result of
feedback from session attendees, which included
Health Canada compliance ocers, independent
crop consultants and growers.
Pilot session participants had experience with
pesticides, but not necessarily calibration. Sapsford
says their feedback urged more hands-on experience
earlier in the course. Sapsford says most people use
the area covered and the application
rate to gure out calibration but there
are some newer methods that can be
helpful.
Day one of the course focuses on
how to teach adults and delves into
reading product labels. Day two is in-
class calibration. On day three, the
students demonstrate what they know
by becoming the instructors using real
equipment.
We were hoping to run some of
these new train-the-trainer workshops
this winter but with COVID, I’m not sure,
says Sapsford. We just need to nd a
way to get this out there so it’s on-going.
Instead, he’s hoping post-secondary
institutions will incorporate the course
within their oerings.
Another hurdle is access to
equipment to practice on at the same
time as classroom training. Producers
typically have more time for training
during shoulder seasons. But in late fall
and early winter, it becomes more
challenging to learn about sprayers
outdoors. Water in the sprayer freezes,
for example.
Sapsford says the course will benet crop
consultants, grower associations, retailers and
individual growers who have larger operations and
want to designate someone to become the in-house
trainer, saving on multiple enrollment costs while at
the same time ensuring calibration is done correctly,
pre-empting potential problems or complaints.
“If calibration is correct, farmers will also spend
less money on their products as well as have better
coverage, says Hall.
Touching the equipment was encouraged as part of practicing how to teach others about
sprayer calibration. These students from a variety of sectors were test pilots for new
provincial course materials which will be rolled out this fall. PHOTO / MYRNA STARK LEADER
32 | SEPTEMBER 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
*Cannot be combined with any other offer. Offer based on the purchase of eligible equipment defined in promotional program. Additional fees may apply. Pricing, payments and models may vary by dealer. Customers must take delivery prior to the end of the program period. Some customers
will not qualify. Some restrictions apply. Financing subject to credit approval. Offer available on new equipment only. Pricing and rebates in CAD dollars. Prior purchases are not eligible. Offer valid only at participating Dealers. Offer subject to change without notice. See your dealer for details. ©
2020 Daedong-Canada, Inc. Kioti Canada.
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by TOM WALKER
CRESTON – Enquiring
minds, a blend of science and
engineering, and a search for
a niche market have led Ben
and Claudia Herrera to build a
specialty grain farm and our
milling business in Creston.
When we came 13 years
ago, we were looking for a
small ag community to settle
in after working overseas in
the oil industry, explains Ben.
“I had visited an uncle in
Creston in the summers as a
child and it really t the bill.
They considered various
farming opportunities but
the idea of grain, a non-
perishable product, caught
their interest and Treasure
Life Flour Mills was born.
The two elevators in the
centre of town tell the story
of a long-standing grain
industry in the Creston valley,
but Ben and Claudia weren’t
looking to go mainstream. An
interest in ancient and
heirloom varieties and a
desire to farm organically led
them to build a speciality
farming and milling business
that produces around 500 MT
of a variety of ours a year.
Ben gladly shares his
knowledge of grains acquired
on the quest for suitable
varieties to grow on their
farm. There are 43,000 grain
varieties across the planet,
and 21,000 of those are old
varieties, he explains.
“But when you start
looking for ancient grains,
you nd that there aren’t
many left, he says.
Finding the best
Their search for seeds has
led them to phone elderly
farmers, searching out
specialty seed banks and
connecting with like-minded
growers across the globe.
Sometimes they would be
lucky to get a ve-gallon pail
of seed. Other times, it was
only a 10-gram handful.
Along the way they
purchased an entire heirloom
seed bank from the University
of Edmonton that held 48
varieties, and a pack of seeds
that a retired farmer had kept
in his freezer for 47 years. All
told, their own collection now
sits at 280 varieties.
But that’s only the
beginning. It takes three to
four years of careful
propagation – a process
involving planting, harvesting
and replanting by hand – to
produce enough seed for a
past, some of which were “fun
grains, says Ben – like the
Baxter wheat found in a cave
in New Mexico in 1956.
Once the plots are large
enough, samples are milled
the baking qualities assessed.
Their research has led them
to settle on 23 varieties that
they now plant on a rotation.
They select just nine grains to
plant each year.
We have been milling and
selling now for ve years,
says Claudia.
The grains that are grown
test plot on a commercial
scale.
But that’s only the
beginning. It takes three to
seven years of propagation –
a process involving planting,
harvesting and replanting by
hand – to produce enough
seed for a commercial
planting. Some test plots
have been lost to deer and
mice, and others have
suered from drought (three
years ago, drought in the
valley led the Herreras to
pause the trials).
They have had as many as
90 test plots going in the
Wheat growers tap into heirloom grains
Creston
business feeds
deep-seated need
for alternative
wheats
See HEIRLOOM on next page
o
Ben, Max and
Claudia Herrera mill
the grain they grow.
PHOTO / TOM WALKER
34 | SEPTEMBER 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
Call 1-866-522-3447
to book an on-farm
appointment.
Visit bcefp.ca for more
program information.
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Have you completed an
Environmental Farm Plan?
Debbie BulkDebbie Bulk
Eurosa FarmsEurosa Farms
Brentwood Bay, B.C.Brentwood Bay, B.C.
commercially in Canada are
selected because they
produce the best yield in our
conditions and are the easiest
to grow and harvest and mill
with our current technology,
Ben explains.
“But heirloom grains have
a avour and nutritional
values that modern wheat
doesn’t have, adds Claudia.
Niche market
A move away from the
Wonder Bread culture to
more artisanal bakeries and
breads has created a market
for specialty grains, and the
ours that are made from
them, and most often it is an
older variety that has come
back into favour.
Ladoga wheat, for
example, a regular crop for
Treasure Life, is a spring
wheat that originated in the
Ukraine.
“It was brought to Russia
by Ukrainian settlers in 1654
and came to Canada from
Russia in 1887, Claudia
explains.
Ladoga breads have a rich nutty
avour and can have up to 30 times
more nutritional value than breads
made from commercial white ours,
Ben says.
While all wheats contain gluten,
the amount of gluten varies greatly
between wheat varieties. If you
compound that with current farming
and milling practices, consumers may
develop a wheat sensitivity. Treasure
Life grains are not genetically
modied, are grown organically and
milled on site with no additives to the
our.
We have stories from customers
who have a sensitivity to commercial
our, but are able to tolerate our
products, Claudia says.
The Herreras own and lease a total
of 900 acres in the Creston Valley and
they also source from an organic
grain farm in Alberta. The grains are
milled using both modern steel
impact mills and old stone mills,
several of which Ben has sourced as
antiques, restored and retrotted
himself, as the manufacturers are no
longer in business.
Normally, they employ up to three
people full-time in the mill. As with
other our mills, business exploded
when COVID-19 hit.
We had 14 people
working and were pulling 18-
hour days, says Ben. “I had to
get a couple more of my old
mills up and running. We
were able to keep up with
the our demand, but we
could not source enough
paper bags at one point.
Ben says demand is back
to a more normal volume
now.
“I was getting up to 100
calls a day during the height
of the pandemic, he says.
Their products are
distributed across BC to
specialty bakers and food
stores and also sold through
Organic Matters, the Nelson-
based organic ingredients
company that delivers across
Canada and the US. In
addition to a variety of ours
including wheat, spelt and
rye, they oer oats, a blended
hot breakfast cereal and a
specialty pancake mix.
It was a quest for the
perfect pancake mix that led
to tracking down the antique stone
mills.
“Ben wanted pancakes like his
mother could make with the ne our
she got from her hand grinder,
explains Claudia. “He was sure if he
could track down an old commercial
stone mill he could make the best
pancakes. He found the eight mills
that we use today and the pancakes
are the best.
The Herreras grow their own wheat for milling on the benches above Creston. PHOTO / TREASURE LIFE FLOUR MILLS
HEIRLOOM grains have niche appeal nfrom page 33
High-flying plans grounded
by pandemic protocols
Rising moth populations show need for more control
The transport of infested bins between orchards is one reason there is
an increase in codling moths this season. PHOTO / TOM WALKER
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC SEPTEMBER 2020 | 35
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by TOM WALKER
KELOWNA – The
Okanagan-Kootenay Sterile
Insect Release (OKSIR)
program is an essential
service during the COVID-19
pandemic, but it’s ying more
slowly these days.
“Our focus is on keeping
sta safe and that has slowed
things down for sure, says the
programs general manager
Melissa Tesche.
One casualty has been a
high-ying initiative to train
sta in the operation of
drones to release sterile
codling moths into BC
orchards to ght their native
cousins.
Washington State
University entomologist Betsy
Beers has spent three years
demonstrating the
eectiveness of orchard-
specic releases delivered by
drones. The technology is
appealing to OKSIR, which
has been granted an
exemption from new
Transport Canada regulations
prohibiting the carrying of
living organisms on board
drones.
“In two hours, a drone
operator can cover the same
territory it would take a rider
a day and a half to cover, says
Tesche. We are all set up to
go.
But protocols designed to
curb the spread of COVID-19
means sta training sessions
including in-eld pilot
training have been
impossible.
“COVID kyboshed our
training plans, she says. The
American company was not
able to come in due to the
border restrictions.
Tesche is now hoping
training will take place this
fall, with a refresher course in
the spring to prepare sta to
ght the moth in 2021.
Control slipping
Codling moths are
increasingly a pest of
economic concern around
the world, and BC is no
dierent. While the area-wide
OKSIR program remains an
overwhelming success across
the Okanagan, Similkameen
and Shuswap valleys, surveys
indicate that control is
slipping in some orchards.
Of the nearly 8,000 acres
OKSIR covered in 2019, 44%
were considered moth-free,
down from 50% in 2018.
Another 32% had low moth
pressure, with populations
holding steady or declining.
But 23% of the acreage saw
moth populations increase,
up from 20% in 2018. Tesche
says the worst 10% of
orchards account for 70% of
wild moth populations.
Orchard management is a key
factor where populations are
increasing.
We have absentee owners
who have abandoned their
orchards, she says. And we
see an increase of boutique
growers, small orchards, often
organic, that the owner has
planted to qualify for farm
status and owners are not as
on top of the moths as they
should be.
The poor returns
commercial growers have
seen over the last several
years have also had an
impact.
“Growers don’t have a lot
of extra cash right now, she
notes, explaining that they
might be moving from a
seven-day spray schedule to a
10-day interval. That reduces
the ecacy of the treatment
and they might be shooting
themselves in the foot by
having those gaps in
coverage. Its tough, because
you also have to keep the
bank balance alive.
The moths are also
spreading into new areas,
something Tesche blames on
the movement of infested
bins. Codling moths live in
the crevices of wooden fruit
bins stacked in the corner of
an orchard. If the bins are
moved to another property
without a thorough cleaning,
the moths hitch along for the
ride.
“In terms of spreading
infestation to an area that
didn’t have a problem and
now all of a sudden does, bin
movement is the major
culprit, she says. “Once moths
are established in an orchard
we are just suppressing them
with our sterile moths and
asking the grower to use
supplementary tactics such as
spraying to drive that
population down.
Despite the many changes
that have taken place as a
result of COVID-19, moth
production at the programs
Oliver facility has not been
aected.
“Our facility is fairly
spacious and divided into
production zones, so we are
able to keep a safe distance
between workers, says
Tesche. “Breaks and lunch
times are staggered, and we
have been able to get some
picnic tables outside.
Two specic challenges
have emerged, however.
The rst is supply chain
woes that have delayed
delivery of feed ingredients
for the moths diet.
What usually takes one
week for delivery might
actually be three or four, she
says. “So we have ordered the
bulk of our ingredients and
stockpiled them rather than
ordering fresh every month.
The second challenge is
with sta illnesses.
“If anyone is feeling ill at all
we direct them to 811 and
often the advice is to be
home for 10 to 14 days,
Tesche says. We support that,
but now you have a two-week
absence for something that
might normally be two days.
w ww.countrytractor.ca
CLAUDIO ROTHENBACHER
778.921.0004
claudio@countrytrac tor.ca
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36 | SEPTEMBER 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
by RONDA PAYNE
VANCOUVER – Applying
the right amount of nutrients
to optimize crop yields is a
goal of both conventional
and organic farmers, but
organic farmers have fewer
nutrient amendments to rely
on, making correct
applications a blend of
guesswork and science.
Optimizing nutrients for
yield is part of the equation,
but soil health is another.
Sean Smukler, associate
professor of applied biology
and social science with the
Faculty of Land and Food
Systems at UBC, discussed
building soil health in organic
vegetable production in an
August 13 webinar hosted by
BC Young Farmers.
“Its a buzzword today, for
sure, he says of the term “soil
health.
He explains that soil health
goals can include aspects like
improving ltration,
increasing water holding
capacity, increasing nutrient
cycling and storage,
producing a healthy crop and
more. Key tenets of soil health
are minimizing disturbances
to the soil, supplying organic
matter and keeping the soil
covered when possible.
“Soil health is a holistic
denition and a holistic
concept. Its really dicult to
measure, he says.
Physical indicators of soil
health include water storage
capacity or bulk density;
chemical indicators might be
pH, available phosphorus or
available potassium but no
ocial standards dene it.
Smukler explains that
regardless of the measures,
nutrient management is a
central aspect of soil health.
Unfortunately, soil health
generally is low on the list of
reasons for nutrient
management, falling below
maximizing yields and crop
quality, minimizing costs and
labour and environmental
factors.
“Nitrogen availability is
usually the target for our
nutrient management plan,
he says.
Just 1% to 3% of organic
nitrogen in the soil is available
to plants. Compost and
manure provide levels of 10%
to 30%, but this comes with
guesswork. These sources
don’t include the labels
conventional farmers often
get with commercial fertilizer
products that provide
application levels. Individual
crops needs must be
considered, too, so what is
good for one part of the eld
is not for the other if they
grow dierent crops.
We are trying to balance
what [nutrients] we put on
with the crop demand, he
explains. We know that more
isn’t always better. We reach a
maximum yield and after that
we don’t get any real return
from those applications.
The key to determining
nutrient needs is to know
what’s in the soil and what a
crop requires. Mismatching
nutrient application and crop
needs can lead to reduced
yields, nitrate leaching,
phosphorus build-up and
other issues. It also wastes a
farmers time and money.
Smukler recommends soil
testing.
“If we know how much is
coming o the eld [in the
crop] we can know how
much to put on [when we
know what is in the soil], he
says. “Make sure that there’s a
feedback mechanism. Youre
checking and you’re
adjusting.
Trials his team conducted,
funded in part by the BC
Agriculture and Food Climate
Action Initiative, found that a
hybrid of low compost and
certied organic blood meal
fertilizer was eective in
matching the nitrogen and
phosphorus demands of the
crop. This was the best of the
four options to meet nutrient
needs. The other methods
included municipal compost
that met phosphorus
requirements (known as low
compost); municipal compost
that met nitrogen
requirements (known as high
compost) and poultry
manure that met nitrogen
requirements.
We usually end up adding
too much phosphorus, he
says. “High compost is a
much more typical
application approach, they
put on as much compost as
they can or they are targeting
the nitrogen needs of the
crop and that typically ends
up in more phosphorus than
the crop can use. It can take a
long time to bring down the
phosphorus once it’s been
built up.
There are also trade-os to
consider. For example, the
application best for crop
yields may produce an excess
of greenhouse gases.
We’ve been gathering
data for the last ve years
from these nutrient
management data trials.
Putting it all together may
help modelling, he says.
“Climate change is going to
make results today very
dierent from tomorrow.
Trying to use nutrients
judiciously is the best
approach. We want to be
ecient in our nutrient use.
Organic soil requirements
need science, guesswork
Soil tests can help determine nutrient needs
This one must be about potatoes. Its all I am doing
right now. Digging and selling potatoes. Might as well
write about them, too. It will not be a chore, reeling o
650 words on potatoes.
I’ll just follow my
thoughts.
You know you can
almost live on
potatoes, right? They
contain bre, protein,
more potassium than
bananas, and all kinds of vitamins and minerals. I think
they get a lot of this right from the soil. The elds certainly
look drained once the potatoes are out. You can add it all
back with chemicals or by building organic matter using
cover crops for ve years. One way or another, those elds
need to be brought back into shape for the next time they
grow potatoes.
They are hard to dig by hand, aren’t they? Anyone that
has dug more than three or four plants in a garden bed
realizes this in a hurry. Its very desirable to have some sort
of mechanical harvester. We have a Grimme SE 75-30.
Gorgeous machine. It can dig through the most
outrageous jungle of potato vines and weeds. Ultimately,
the potatoes ow into the hopper and the weeds are
deposited in its wake, roots up in the sun.
It arrived on the farm 12 years ago. I remember its
arrival: looming massively on the at deck, fresh o the
boat from Germany. The only tractor with the correct
clevis hitch turned out to be the tiny blue tractor that my
grandpa had driven up from city in the 60s.
I almost cried. Not only because it seemed inevitable
that something would go very wrong as the harvester, with
its nine-foot wheel base spilling over the sides of the at
deck, was sure to run over the teeny tiny tractor tugging
away at it, but because it was at that moment that I really
understood that mom and dad were investing very long
term in the farm. It is a statement piece: this is a potato farm.
I also cried because its arrival meant we didn’t need to
use the 1953 Farmall 300-with-potato-harvester-
attachment anymore. What a nightmare that machine was.
It was supposed to be a step up from my great-
grandfather’s potato lifter, which was new around the
same time round wheels were invented. At least the
harvesting experience was sort of peaceful, shuing
along on our knees lling buckets.
The Farmall belched and bucketed along, bellowing black
smoke. Dad drove and performed mechanical miracles on
the y. The crew were draped all over it separating potatoes
from the dirt and plants. My sister was perched on a
platform o the end of the chain juggling laundry baskets
as they lled. I was madly driving to and fro collecting full
laundry baskets, delivering empty ones and running the
washing line. Everyone was always cranky, as I recall.
All that is well behind us now, so there is no need to
dredge up all these old stories. The Grimme is magnicent,
as I think I mentioned, although certainly tears have been
shed upon it over the years. That time I wrenched the
bunker delivery arm into a corkscrew is etched forever in
the annals of “things that went really wrong with the
harvester.
Not today, though. This was a banner day. We sauntered
out on a whim after enough family members expressed a
willingness to crew, and promptly dug 7,000 pounds of
potatoes. I was driving about as slow as possible, while the
belt loading the bin was going very fast and the potatoes
were thick upon it. They were just pouring out. I don’t
believe we have ever grown a more beautiful and
abundant crop of Sieglinde potatoes.
I think the cover crop method of soil replenishment is
working ne. The potatoes are actually glowing.
Anna Helmer farms with her bubble in the Pemberton
Valley and hopes to never get over potatoes.
The right machine
makes harvesting
potatoes a breeze
And the right cover crops will
make the potatoes glow
Farm Story
by ANNA HELMER
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COUNTRY LIFE IN BC SEPTEMBER 2020 | 37
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For decades, farmers have
benetted from cover
cropping when a winter or
cover crop is seeded right
after the summer crop is
harvested.
But relay cropping,
developed by Shabtai Bittman
with Agriculture and Agri-
Food Canada in Agassiz, is
improving on that system. In
relay cropping, a winter crop
is sown about a month after
the main summer crop has
been planted. Essentially,
farmers double-crop their
elds, allowing them to
produce more forage,
eliminate a time-management
bottleneck and protect the
environment.
A cover crop planted soon
after the summer crop is
established would be well-
rooted before winter sets in.
But a lot depends on what
cover crop would work best
with the main crop.
The research on exploring
the values of relay cropping
was undertaken at both the
UBC Dairy Education and
Research Centre in Agassiz
and AAFC’s Agassiz Research
and Development Centre.
Trials were carried out on a
variety of small plots and strip
plots from Agassiz to
Abbotsford using 40 dierent
crop combinations.
Crop varieties, seed
volumes, planting methods,
when to plant, and irrigation
practices were all part of the
trials to arrive at a choice of
cover crop that ultimately
worked best with corn and
which would prove to be the
most disease-resistant. The
expectation was that the
system would be an excellent
form of forage, soil and
environmental management
and farm production
eciency.
The successful trials
showed that tetraploid
biennial Italian rye grass was
the cover crop of choice
planted between six-leaf corn
rows at a rate of 25 to 30 kg
per hectare. This year, the
researchers have taken the
study to the next level,
growing the combination of
corn and Italian rye grass in a
150-acre eld, large enough
to mirror commercial
production.
Given cold, wet spring
conditions, corn was not
planted until May 28. On June
29, the Italian rye grass was
planted with an interseeder
moving between the corn
rows.
We’ve taken that research
and put it on a scale that
farmers can relate to, says
UBC farm manager Nelson
Dinn. “Its ne under scientic,
controlled conditions but
what sorts of challenges
are there in elds on a
commercial level? That’s
why we did it on a
larger scale to see how
it would work. We know
there are a lot of
advantages. Its a good
environmental strategy. Its
good farm eciency since,
[with the grass in place] it’s
one less job to do in the fall.
There is improved soil quality,
soil health, and the rye grass
takes up excess nutrients left
by the harvested corn.
The immediate pay-o to
relay cropping is that,
depending on yields, forage
and livestock feed is available
year-round and soil
protection, weed
management, and
environmental sustainability
all come into
play. With the
corn harvested,
the ryegrass
will benet
from excess
nutrients as
well as direct
sunlight during the
fall which could
increase growth by 30%.
Dinn says that four to ve
weeks is a good time to go
into the eld to plant with
minimal damage to the
young corn.
“Go slow with the
equipment. Watch the turns.
But the gains you are getting
from having a second crop
outweigh any damage you
might do, he says. “Its all a
balancing act. And its all
depending on weather.
Spring weather was
challenging in the Fraser
Valley this year.
Dinn says that many
farmers practice traditional
cover cropping but that
means more cultivating after
the summer crop is o, more
compaction of the soil, and
more work when daylight is
decreasing which leads to
more time considerations.
“You want that winter crop
established so that it can hold
the soil down, he says. “By
spring you will have a great
crop. This year, the rye grass
came up in about ve days.
Come corn
harvest, we
won’t have to
do anything
further. Nor
do we have to
worry if the
corn comes
o late as the
grass crop is
already well established. The
amount of daylight is not an
issue.
The corn will come o in
September and the ryegrass
will be harvested next spring,
most likely at the end of April
or early May. With the rye o,
the land will be cultivated,
and the next seasons corn
planted followed a month
later by the ryegrass.
Relay cropping checks all the boxes
System developed in Agassiz offers many benefits to growers
Research
by MARGARET EVANS
It’s all a balancing act. And it’s all
depending on the weather.
UBC FARM MANAGER NELSON DINN
38 | SEPTEMBER 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
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There’s no magic bullet to cope with the impacts of COVID-19, says greenhouse grower and BC Agriculture Council chair Stan Vander Waal. Staff
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by MYRNA STARK LEADER
CHILLIWACK – Two BC
greenhouse operators say
COVID-19 has changed their
industry, likely forever.
Stan Vander Waal is
president and owner at
Rainbow Greenhouses Inc.,
which has operations in BC
and Alberta, as well as chair of
the BC Agriculture Council.
Brian Minter and his family
own Minter Country Garden, a
retail and greenhouse
operation. Both farm in
Chilliwack.
On August 12, both men
represented BC on a panel as
part of Virtual Grower Day,
organized by Greenhouse
Canada. The annual
professional development and
networking conference had
originally been scheduled to
take place in Abbotsford (its
rst time in BC) but was
moved online in response to
COVID-19.
Ontario greenhouse
owners Bob and Carmen
Mitchell of SunTech
Greenhouses Ltd. of Ottawa,
which grows indoor tomatoes,
and Len Ferragine, owner of
Bradford Greenhouses Garden
Gallery in Bradford, Ontario,
which supplies plugs and
liners, joined Minter and
Vander Waal.
While this season has been
very challenging, the potential
for a resurgence of COVID-19
this fall means many growers
are implementing risk
mitigation strategies and
adapting.
BC designated greenhouses
and garden centres as
essential services early on in
the pandemic, along with
other farm operations. This
was positive, said Vander Waal.
Vander Waal’s operation
didn’t close but Minters shut
down for ve weeks, mostly
out of concern for sta health
and visitor safety. The
shutdown gave Minter time to
examine and adapt processes
to the new market
environment.
We learned a lot in the ve
weeks, he said.
Pivoting quickly to online
sales allowed him to maintain
sales at a third of what they
were prior to closing.
We realigned our entire
store and this will be our best
year in history, he said, adding
that consumer behaviour is
forcing change. The writing is
on the wall with Amazon and
everything else.
Minter continues to try to
predict the impact COVID-19
will have on sales.
“Our consumer is 35 to 65,
in an upwardly mobile group,
so we’ve been lucky but
disposable income may
become an issue, he said.
However, he remains
optimistic about Christmas
sales, expecting people will
want it to be a bright spot
after a stressful and restricted
year. He expects sales will
match or surpass last years.
Minter and fellow panelists
say demand is for local
products – food, plants that
produce food and plants to
beautify their space or oer
cheer to others.
Chrysanthemums are selling
about a month earlier than
normal in the west and east,
for example. Coloured owers
were hot sellers, although a
couple of panelists said
additional work was needed
to size up certain plants,
especially on the West Coast
where Minter said 12 weeks of
spring rain slowed early-
season consumer demand.
All are coping with added
work to address business and
health issues.
“I don’t have a magic bullet.
We’re working hard to gure it
out, said Vander Waal,
commenting on his
operations risk mitigation
planning. The question is not
so much if but when we will
see an infection in one of our
work groups.
With seasonal workers on
his site, Vander Waal says
plans must be in place that
address working with health
and government ocials to
ensure operations continue in
the event of an outbreak. A
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC SEPTEMBER 2020 | 39
Flower growers ponder COVID-19 impacts
See STAFF on next page
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STAFF safety is a priority nfrom page 39
40 | SEPTEMBER 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
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shutdown in March or April
would have a signicant
impact on the nursery.
Sta safety continues to
be top of mind for all. At
Minters greenhouse, a sta
member returning from a
wedding in Alberta was
asked to self-isolate. In
other operations, smaller
sta work teams have been
formed to limit contact
among employees.
All panellists said nding
employees if their regulars
are ill is next to impossible,
but they also know they
must move forward.
We’ve been in this for
35 years. There have been
challenges all along the
way and we’ve survived. I
hope that this is the same,
said Vander Waal, who is
proceeding with substantial
expansion plans at
locations in BC and Alberta
in 2021.
However, most of the
growers plan to simplify
their businesses and
streamline operations.
We can’t be everything
to everyone, said Vander
Waal, explaining that he’ll reduce varieties.
Were being very targeted in what we bring in,
adds Minter, who will focus on what people have
bought in the past.
After an initial cutback on production plans for
Christmas, Vander Waal said it’s back up.
We’ve shipped 65% of our garden mums out the
door. All summer long I’ve seen foliage moving out
at an unbelievable pace that we’ve been bringing in
from Florida. The consumer seems to have an
insatiable demand, he says.
With fewer planes ying, logistics is an issue.
Growers need to stay on top of shipments of live
material to ensure it’s arriving in a timely fashion and
in the best health. Minter
said product must be
booked early due to a
shortage of nursery stock
on the West Coast.
These and other factors
will impact pricing. While
Vander Waal hasn’t
experienced large increases
in plug costs, production
costs are up. In Ontario,
Ferragine threw out
$250,000 worth of plugs,
managed with half his sta
and spent more than
$250,000 dollars on
personal protective
equipment.
Rising expenses need to
be made up somewhere for
businesses to break even
but the marketplace isn’t
necessarily receptive to
higher prices.
This is one of the times
where we’ve found that the
price risk falls on the
business owner and we
need to try to price for
that, said Vander Waal.
Minter is also cognizant
of trying to balance what
the economy will do to
public perception.
“Scientists are thinking 12-18 months for a viable
vaccine and I think you have to look at the longer
term … are we going into a recession?” said Minter.
“I’m a little concerned about pricing because we
don’t want to be accused of price gouging,
especially when we are considered an essential
service.
The pandemic forced Minter Country Gardens to incorporate online sales this spring, a change Brian Minter says
mirrors Amazon-led changes to retail businesses. PHOTO / MINTER GARDENS
Loren Taves has raised prices to offset the added costs Taves Family Farm has incurred as a result of the COVID-19
pandemic, and he’s prepared to explain that to his customers. PHOTO / RONDA PAYNE
COUNTRY LIFE IN BC SEPTEMBER 2020 | 41
by RONDA PAYNE
ABBOTSFORD – Labour was
a key issue in agriculture
before COVID-19 hit, and the
pandemic has further
complicated the outlook.
But the need to follow best
practices remains as
important as ever, according
to Jennifer Wright, senior
human resources advisor and
stakeholder engagement
specialist with the Canadian
Agricultural Human Resource
Council.
This creates obstacles even
to common practices such as
hiring, training and
discharging workers. While
many farmers like face-to-face
interviews, those may not be
possible given social
distancing measures.
“Its just not business as
usual, she says. “But there’s
lots of ways to work around
that.
Wright says it’s still possible
to identify great job
candidates, even if the
methods aren’t familiar. She
recommends using social
media and online job boards
to post positions rather than
community papers (while
newspapers are an essential
service, many have curtailed
distribution) or sharing hiring
needs at in-person
commodity group meetings.
Videoconferencing tools
like Zoom and Skype have
become part of the process
this year, Wright says, serving
as both interviewing and
training tools.
She recommends using
e-mail for employment,
benets and payroll
documentation wherever
possible. Videos and webinars
are useful online training
tools.
She also recommends
creating a standard structure
when hiring multiple
candidates for similar
positions. This is important
anytime, but especially so
during COVID-19.
“You want to be organized,
you want questions that are
well-thought out, she says.
Asking the same questions of
every candidate.
Online job search
Loren and Corinne Taves of
Taves Family Farm in
Abbotsford typically employ
both foreign and domestic
workers for their production
and retail operations, but this
year has meant changes.
Corinne oversees hiring
and hasn’t encountered many
challenges but the farm
becomes more active in
hiring as fall approaches. She
uses online job-search and
hiring sites like
Indeed.com.
“I have just put
out Indeed ads and
used their
screening tests to
decide who to hire,
she says. “Other
than hiring a few
less people, I don’t
think it will be
super-dierent
here.
Given the obstacles to
securing foreign workers this
year, Loren would like to hire
more local workers. But this
can be equally challenging.
“Canadians aren’t
interested in the type of work
agriculture oers, he says.
Wright says that shifting to
local labour is important, but
she understands the trials
facing the Taves and other
growers.
“Its not always easy for
producers, but sometimes it’s
necessary, she says. “If you
build a good reputation
locally, that will also help you
with your recruitment and
retention.
No matter where labour is
from, it remains the most
signicant cost for growers.
This is especially true on the
retail side, where an attraction
is open regardless of how
many people feel comfortable
walking through the gates.
“I have less people coming
through … but I still need
close to the same number of
people to be on site, says
Taves.
This has forced him to raise
prices, spreading the xed
labour costs over a lower
volume of sales. He will be at
the gate during peak season
to personally explain the
higher costs to all customers.
There are also the costs
associated with personal
protective equipment (PPE)
and changes in the
workplace. Wright says
employers need to respect
these at all stages of hiring
Best practices must guide COVID-19 hiring
Procedures are changing, but it’s
still possible to hire great workers
FOR BAGGED or
BULK ORDERS
Darren Jansen Owner
604.794.3701
organicfeeds@gmail.com
www.canadianorganicfeeds.com
Certified by Pro-Cert Organic Systems Ltd.
Canadians aren’t
interested in the type of
work agriculture offers.
LOREN TAVES
Taves Family Farm
USED EQUIPMENT
N/H FP230 27P GRASS HEAD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17,500
FELLA TH800 6 BASKET TEDDER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6,500
CLAAS VOLTO 1050 8 BASKET TEDDER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12,500
FELLA TS1502 2012, HAY RAKE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20,000
MF 1372T 2008, 13FT DISCBINE, METAL ROLLERS . . . . . . . . . . . 22,000
KV 9469S VARIO, 2014, RAKE… 1 OR 2 ROWS . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18,500
USED TRACTORS
KUBOTA T2380 2017, 48” DECK . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4,500
KUBOTA BX2360 2010, 1,900HRS, TRAC/MWR . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9,750
KUB B2620 2009, TRAC/LDR, TURF TIRE, 600 HRS . . . . . . . . . . 14,500
CASE MAGNUM 225 CVT NEW ALO LOADER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 170,000
DEUTZ TTV 6130.4 2014, 1,760 HRS, LDR, FRONT 3PT/PTO . . . . 97,000
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KUB SSV65, 2018, CAB, A/C, H-PATTERN,2 SPEED, 150 HRS . . . . 47,000
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ISLAND TRACTOR & SUPPLY LTD.
DUNCAN 1-888-795-1755
NORTH ISLAND TRACTOR
COURTENAY 1-866-501-0801
Quality PreOwned Equipment
and employment.
There are federal,
provincial and oftentimes
regional guidelines as to what
workers need to have as far as
PPE goes, she says. “Every
employer should be looking
to follow those guidelines.
YOUR
Helping You
WEEKLY
FARM NEWS
UPDATES
countrylifeinbc.com
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42 | SEPTEMBER 2020 COUNTRY LIFE IN BC
When we left off last month, Kenneth
and Deborah had gone their separate
ways when they arrived home from
their vacation. Kenneth headed to the
condo in Victoria alone, hopeful to
meet up with Janice after convincing
Deborah she would be better to self-
isolate at the farm. Deborah didn’t put
up much of a fight. Rural Redemption,
Part 126, continues.
Deborah pondered the news that
someone who sound like Janice
Newberry had left Kenneth a
message that his office was closing
until further notice.
“Should I send a text and tell him?”
asked Ashley.
Deborah said not to bother
because she was sure he was in
touch with someone at his office
already.
Christopher returned from the
barn and said that Lisa Lundgren’s
mom said there was going to be a
rule that everyone had to stay six feet
away from everyone else. Ashley said
you only had to stay away from
strangers and if it was someone you
were already close to, it didn’t count.
Christopher said that wasn’t the way
Lisas mom told it.
Christopher was soon off to help
Newt with some fencing and Ashley
left to do barn chores at Fitzpatricks.
Deborah and Susan were alone at
opposite ends of the porch.
“How did things go around here?”
asked Deborah.
“It was wonderful to spend time
with Ashley and Christopher. We had
some great conversations.
About what?”
“Oh, Chris told me all about cow’s
stomachs and all about Lisa, and how
pretty she is, and how smart she is,
and how pretty she is, and how much
he likes her, and wait until I see how
nice she is, and shes really pretty, too.
Ashley told me all about Clay and
how much she likes him and how
shes hoping their relationship will
move to the next level.
Deborahs jaw dropped.
What does she mean, next level?”
“Its okay, said Susan. “She’s just
hoping Clay will ask her to go steady.
“How can you be sure that’s what
she meant?”
“I asked her.
“Did she tell you anything else?”
“Umm. Huh. She told me I was an
absolute fox.
Deborah smiled.
Well, it sounds like you’ve had a
lively time of it.
“Oh, that’s not the half of it, I’ve
been asked out on a picnic, got
flowers from a secret admirer, gone
shopping for a sexy dress with my
granddaughter, been stood up on a
dinner date and rescued by a gallant
diner, gone out for dinner with the
neighbours who came and fixed your
barn, and invited to live with a man
I’ve only known for two weeks. I’ve
had more excitement in the last two
weeks than I’ve had in the last 10
years.
What about you? What was the
highlight of your trip?”
“Not nearly so exciting, said
Deborah. “It was the day Birdie Wissel
and I went swimming with the pigs.
Deborah spent the next hour
telling Susan about the vacation. She
barely mentioned Kenneth and,
coupled with the fact he’d gone to
stay alone in the city, Susan started
reading between the lines.
She came straight to the point.
Are you two okay?”
“Us?” said Deborah. “Us like we? I’m
okay and Kenneth is okay, but WE are
definitely not okay.
The conversation went on until
mid afternoon. Newt sensed Susan’s
turmoil when she returned. He asked
if anything was wrong. Susan said
only that she was tired and excused
herself for an afternoon nap. Newt
didn’t buy it.
vvv
Newt was awakened at 4:30 the
next morning by the sound of Rocky
whining softly and scratching at his
bedroom door. Rocky slept under the
coat rack by the back door in the
mud room. If there was something
up, he would stand guard at the door
and alert the household and warn off
unwelcome company with loud and
persistent barking. Whining wasnt in
his nature.
Newt opened the door and flipped
on the hall light.
Whats up, boy?” he asked.
Rockys tail wagged twice, and he
turned and started down the hall. He
stopped and looked back at Newt
and whined again.
“You want out? Okay, lets go.
Newt followed Rocky to the back
door. The water bowl was half full
and there was still food in the dish.
Nothing unusual. Rocky had started
leaving some of his dinner for the
morning more than a year ago.
Newt opened the door and let
Rocky onto the porch. His ears were
pricked, and he stared intently into
the darkness. Newt listened carefully
for some sound of trouble in the hen
house but there was nothing but a
sigh of breeze.
Rocky ‘s head lifted, and his tail
started to wag as if he recognized a
friend.
Anyone there?” called Newt.
There was no reply, but Rocky gave
another whine and walked into the
night.
Newt waited for five minutes and
gave a couple of whistles but there
was no sign of the old dog. Newt
closed the door and left him to it.
Rocky preferred to stand watch
outside when he sensed trouble.
He wasn’t back when Newt
checked the porch at 6:30 but Rocky
always made a tour of inspection first
thing in the morning. Just after seven
the phone rang.
“Newt? Its Deborah. Rocky is here,
up by Tinys old workshop. I think you
should come over.
Newt found Rocky lying at the
shop door. He was still except for the
hair along his back that lifted in the
wind. Newt knelt beside him and
rubbed a lifeless ear.
“So, this is where you were off to.
Was Tiny calling you? Is that who you
could hear? You’ve been a good boy
for a long time and I’m sure going to
miss you, but I guess you and Tiny
have been waiting long enough to
see each other, heh?”
Deborah had walked up from the
house and stopped 20 feet from the
shop.
“Is he gone?”
“He is, said Newt. “Gone to be with
Tiny, Id bet. He was fussing at 4:30
this morning like he could hear
something. He took off when I let him
go and headed for here, I guess. He
used to spend a lot of time up here
with Tiny.
“Odd, said Deborah. “Princess
woke me up at 4:30, whining and
scratching at the door, too.
“Not so odd maybe. Dogs can hear
things we can’t. Why not Tiny? You
once told me yourself you felt like he
was right here with you in the shop.
Newt gave Rocky one last pat on
the head and stood up.
Wonder if you would consider
letting me bury him up here by the
shop?”
“Of course.
“Maybe you should see what
Kenneth thinks about it first.
To hell with Kenneth, said
Deborah. “You go ahead. Rocky has
more right to be here than Kenneth
has to say he can’t.
... to be continued
No place like home for Deborah and the dogs
Woodshed
Chronicles
by BOB COLLINS
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Loon Lake Waterfront
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