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British Columbia since 1915

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NOLA honours long time secretary
Tom Walker

Lengthy learning curve for antibiotic free poultry
David Schmidt

Farmers, agribusinesses make a difference
David Schmidt

Toronto investors keep farmland in farming
Peter Mitham

Ag council decisive for BC farmers
David Schmidt

Backyard hog producers beef up farm gate
David Schmidt

Cattlemen welcome new protection program
Tom Walker

Pricing critical for BC raspberry growers
Peter Mitahm

Strawberry research focusses on day-neutral
Peter Mitham

Fences aren’t forever
Tom Walker

Strawberry receipts up
David Schmidt

Hazelnut growers embrace potential
Ronda Payne

Cattlemen want clarity: Water Act
Tom Walker

Bare land replant program in works
Tom Walker

Wind turbines fuel windy debate
Jennifer Smith

Regional district buys historic ranchland
Peter Mitham

Livestock producer heads farmers market assoc
Tamara Leigh


Plus more!

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More news making headlines in this issue

March 2016.jpg

Vol.102 Issue 5
MAY 2016


Investment foundation celebrates 20 years [David Schmidt]


LANGLEY - When federal and provincial agriculture ministers reached another of their five-year agriculture agreements in the early 90’s, they decided to let industry determine how to spend some of the money. To do that, they mandated the formation of Canadian Adaptation and Rural Development (CARD) councils in each province. These CARD councils were to be led by a board of directors from industry, assisted by representatives of the federal and provincial governments, and would dole out the money allocated to the CARD program.


Since the BC Federation of Agriculture was imploding at the time, six individual organizations representing dairy, beef, horticulture and hogs agreed to become the founding members.


The group held its first meeting in May, 1995, and four months later, the Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC was incorporated as a non-profit society. The BC Ministry of Agriculture chose Harvey Sasaki to both represent it on the council and to run it from the side of his desk, with the help of Sherry Greening and Elaine Burgess (who is still at IAF).


“I don’t think anyone ever foresaw what it would accomplish,” Sasaki told IAF’s well-attended 20th anniversary celebration at Krause Berry Farms in Langley, April 13.


While most provincial CARD councils only received CARD and later ACAAF funding, BC saw the potential of the council. With the support of the BCMA, Sasaki and then Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada regional director John Berry were able to divert just over $21 million in safety net funding for BC into the IAF coffers, giving them a firm financial foothold.


“Things evolved in a healthy way,” Berry said. IAF (has been good for government by getting programs delivered better and allowed industry to build effective partnerships.” …


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Stronger land values impacting farms [Peter Mitham]


Producers, processors face labour crunch [Peter Mitham]


CHILLIWACK – There’s more work available on local farms than people willing to do it, says Crystal Ellis, manager of the Agricultural Labour Pool in Chilliwack. The business, which has been connecting employers with workers since 1974, has listings for everything from field labour to truck drivers and equipment operators; office staff, supervisors and managers are also in demand.


“There’s not necessarily a shortage of people that can work; I think there’s a shortage of people that want to work, that want to do the jobs,” Ellis said. “More and more [employers] have to get back on the tools because people just don’t want to stick with the jobs very long.”


While training programs are in vogue among students who want skills, graduate are often surprised at what those skills will earn them in the field.

Workers who have been laid off in Alberta, by contrast, want work but they’ve also got no qualms about returning to their old jobs when they become available because the wages are better.“There’s lots of them that say they don’t want to go back but as soon as the job becomes available again, they’re gone,” Ellis said. “They make such good money that if the oil company calls them tomorrow, they’re willing to say, ‘I’m outta here.’”


Then there are the new graduates who don’t want to receive minimum wage.

The challenges are the frontline face of an issue the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council highlighted in a series of reports released at a special event in Winnipeg this spring.


A report prepared by the council in partnership with the Conference Board of Canada found that Canada’s agriculture sector faces a shortfall of 59,200 workers, and the gap costs the industry $1.5 billion in lost sales each year. …


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ABBOTSFORD – Farm Credit Canada’s annual survey of farmland values across the country pointed to ongoing strength in BC, with values up 6.5% in 2015 – the greatest annual increase since the heady days that preceded the financial crisis of 2008.


But unlike in previous years, the report made no mention of competition from non-farm buyers. While retirees and hobby farmers have upped the ante on commercial growers, FCC made no mention of their influence on land markets.


Rather, competition for large parcels in the Lower Mainland was cited as the cause of stronger values in the Fraser Valley while cherry growers drove gains in the Okanagan. The increases elsewhere pushed more buyers into the Kootenay region and one might expect – given trends in the residential market – to Vancouver Island, where fewer properties were on the market for extended periods of time.


Despite anecdotal reports of locals being outbid on properties in Northern BC, FCC said the Cariboo and northwestern BC had seen “minimal changes in land values.”


The prosperous state of farmland markets was undercut, however, by the dire effects the increases have had on farm economics, according to a report Kwantlen Polytechnic University researchers wrote for credit union Vancity.


The report indicates that the smallest parcels typically sell for upwards of $350,000 an acre, while larger parcels of 20 acres and more start at $50,000 an acre (that’s $1 million right there) up to $120,000 an acre. …


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Stability for vegetable growers  [David Schmidt]


DELTA - What a difference a year makes for the BC Vegetable Marketing Commission. A year ago, Alf Krause was a rookie chair of the commission, operating without a general manager and having to deal with some contentious issues in storage crops. A year later, he has gained considerable experience, has a new general manager and is close to resolving the issues.


The new general manager is Andre Solymosi, who started with the commission in June. He was no stranger to the commission or the sector, as this marks his third term with the BCVMC.

“I worked at the commission for a year in 1998, then left to become a chartered accountant. I returned in 2004 and worked with then general manager Murray Driediger for a year and Tom Demma for three years. In 2008, I went to work for Agriculture in the Classroom before moving on to Snowcrest Foods and now I’m back,” Solymosi told growers at the BCVMC annual meeting in Delta, April 6.


Krause said his goals as chair are to “get some stability” back in the industry and find ways to “regain trust in the orderly marketing system.


“My focus is on working with growers to minimize failures in the marketplace.”


Although there were “a lot of challenges” when he came on board, Solymosi believes there is a light at the end of the tunnel.


Both he and Krause and Solymosi stressed the need for transparency and fairness in commission policies and increased enforcement to ensure both growers and agencies are adhering to those policies.


“We’re refining how that’s going to happen,” Krause said.

He said the new Natural Products Marketing Act will give the BCVMC more flexibility by allowing it to impose penalties for infractions. Under the existing act, the commission’s only recourse was to pull a licence, an action rarely taken since it would have drastic repercussions. …


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