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Vol.102 Issue 6
JUNE 2016

FIRB proffers rebuke to commission order  [David Schmidt]

Ag council policies to pursue building public trust [David Schmidt]

Farm advocates take Future of Farming on road [Tamara Leigh]

DUNCAN – Former Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) chair Richard Bullock has joined with Richmond City councillor Harold Steves to tour the province advocating for the protection of farmland and the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR).

On a sunny spring evening in the Cowichan Valley, the pair drew a mix of local farmers, interested public and representatives from all levels of local government for a compelling talk on the past, present and future of farmland in BC. It was the sixth in a growing list of joint speaking engagements that has had the pair on the road since October.

After providing a concise history of the ALR, Steves turned the discussion to what local government can do to promote local agriculture and address threats to the ALR. The veteran councillor described how the City of Richmond is using development cost charges to buy parkland and move it into agricultural production.

“When we brought in the ALR, it provided farmland protection, farm income assurance, industrial land protection, BC's first allotment gardens and a land bank to provide land for young farmers. It was provincially supported agriculture,” says Steves. “Today in Richmond, we have municipally- supported agriculture.”

In recent years, the City of Richmond has bought lands, including the Terra Nova development, now know as the Terra Nova Rural Park, to be used for non-profit farming through the Kwantlen Farm School, as well as community garden plots for individuals and schools.

“Most people see it as a park; we see it as a way of providing food to the future,” says Steves. …

Feds infrastructure spending overlooks ag  [Peter Mitham]

KAMLOOPS – The federal budget may have grabbed headlines with plans for $120 billion worth of infrastructure spending over the next decade but the news was little comfort to residents of rural BC who want attention paid to roads, dykes and other works in their communities.

While the province has invested millions in highway upgrades over the past decade, information provided to Country Life in BC by provincial staff indicate  funding for rural and forest service roads has languished.

The last major infusion of cash occurred nearly a decade ago when Victoria allocated $75 million for rural side road improvement and $72 million to maintain roads worn down by the resource sector.

Today, engineers with the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations – headed by former BC Agriculture Council executive director Steve Thomson – receives $18 million a year for capital projects and maintenance of approximately 12,000 kilometres of forest service roads, bridges and major culverts. The money is spent largely on high-traffic routes serving communities, rural residences and high-value recreation sites.

Out in the cold are ranchers such as Tom and Linda Hancock of Chisholm Canyon Ranch, who live three and a half hours north of Lillooet on West Pavilion Road.

When the Hancocks started ranching on the area in 1979, the road was regularly maintained. By 2004, summer maintenance had been terminated. Then, a year ago, the province informed the six ranching families at the farthest end of the road that winter maintenance would also end.

“We got a letter saying they weren’t going to maintain it in winter; they were just going to drop it and if we wanted to use that road, then we would have to hire a contractor and get insurance for liability and look after the road ourselves,” Linda Hancock explains. “There’s no way we can afford to go hire a contractor and then buy the insurance to top it all off and do the road for everyone else to use. It’s just crazy.”





ABBOTSFORD – In a March 29 decision, the BC Farm Industry Review Board has not just thrown out the BC Broiler Hatching Egg Commission’s Amending Order 11 which “regularized” production of BC’s six Silkie and Taiwanese chicken hatching egg producers, it has severely criticized the BCBHEC’s process in creating the order, going so far as to award costs to the three appellants, something FIRB almost never does.

After ignoring BC’s specialty broiler breeders for years, the commission decided in 2011 that these producers were “non-compliant “and would be “regularized.”

In November, 2013, it issued its regularization program as Amending Order 11. The program would give producers a quota amounting to half of their production between 2009 and 2012.

The order was almost immediately appealed by three of the producers: Trevor Allen of Skye Hi Farms Inc, Casey Van Ginkel of V3 Farm and Wilhelm Friesen and Lillian Fehr of W. Friesen Enterprises. Skye Hi and V3 also jointly operate T&C Chick Sales. The three claimed BCBHEC used an unfair process to set the order, that it does not represent “sound marketing policy,” that its allotment decision was wrong and that the 24% pro rata quota allocation increase would still not permit a minimum efficient farm size.

FIRB said using the 2009-2012 production as the base for quota allocations “appears to benefit” the two largest producers, Coastline Chicks (Kelly and Teresa Boonstra) and Rob and Pat Donaldson (Bradner Farms).

It notes Coastline, Bradner, Friesen and John Giesbrecht were pioneer Asian egg producers but Friesen’s egg production had lapsed before restarting in 2009. Sensing a market opportunity, Skye Hi and V3 started production in mid-2010. The sixth producer, K & R Farms (Ken Huttema & Rob Vane), also began in 2010 after acquiring Giesbrecht’s genetics.

In its 39-page decision, the FIRB panel of Daphne Stancil, FIRB chair John Les and FIRB vice-chair Andy Dolberg, says the BCBHEC decision violates every one of FIRB’s cherished SAFETI principles: Strategic, Accountable, Fair, Effective, Transparent, Inclusive. …

ABBOTSFORD - The BC Agriculture Council is scrambling for a new communications strategist and member relations manager after the abrupt departure of Jaclyn Laic at the end of April.

“It’s a super-high priority for us,” BCAC executive director Reg Ens said, “we want someone as soon as possible.”

He offered no explanation for Laic’s departure, saying only it was by “mutual agreement.”

In the meantime, Kathy James, who has been working with ARDCorp as a program manager, is helping out with communication.

Communication is a key issue for the BCAC, having just spent part of their annual meeting discussing how to build more public trust in the farming community.

Speaking at the BC Greenhouse Growers Association annual meeting at the end of April, BCAC chair Stan Vander Waal says the council is wrestling with “how we get the average public to understand what it takes to get food on their table.”

He notes a Farm Credit Canada survey showed just 58% of the public trust farmers, a drop of 4% since its survey five years earlier.

“Our objective is to raise the level of trust from 58% back to 62% or even up to 70%,” Vander Waal said.

Ens said the council is working with Jennifer Woron of the BC Dairy Association to develop details of the strategy.

“We hope to present a proposed strategy to our board by the end of July, have our member associations agree to it by the end of September and start the implementation in November,” Vander Waal said.

Greenhouse growers concerned over carbon tax
David Schmidt

Feds set to ease market access concessions: CETA
David Schmidt

Campaign to target Asian consumers as turkey sales dwindle
David Schmidt

Langley Township to pay for enhancing environment
David Schmidt

Feds rename research and development centres David Schmidt

Snowpack points to tough fire season in north Peter Mitham

Ranchers take heat from Earls over finishing practices
Peter Mitham

Large turnout for Avian Influenza drill
David Schmidt

Salt Spring abattoir eyes big payoff
Sean McIntyre

Demand pressures, low taxes make farmland attractive investment
Peter Mitham

Early fruit crop could create labour issues for Okanagan growers
Judie Steeves

DERC aims to attract top-rate staff
David Schmidt

Girls make the best cheese
Ronda Payne

Cattlemen confident in trade deal
Tom Walker

Abbotsford takes cover over loss in FIRB decision David Schmidt

It’s finally tea time in Duncan
Tamara Leigh

South Vancouver Island loses two regional agrologists
Tamara Leigh

Truffles require luck and a whole lot of patience Ronda Payne

Plus more!

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