Veteran farm journalist and Country Life in BC editor emeritus David Schmidt has died.
Schmidt passed away unexpectedly in Chilliwack, November 20. A cause of death has not been released.
Raised on a mixed farm in Chilliwack, Schmidt was the face of Country Life in BC for decades as he diligently covered producers meetings across the Fraser Valley and beyond. His first-hand experience of agriculture contributed to insightful reports as the industry evolved from the small holdings that dotted the landscape in the 1950s to the major commercial operations that characterize the sector today.
“It always fascinates me that mixed farms like ours were considered conventional in the 50s,” he told the BC Dairy Industry Conference in 2018, when he was honoured with the BC Dairy Achievement Award. “Today, small farms which often grow a multitude of crops and livestock, many organically, like our farm in the 50s, are now considered specialty farms.”
An avid reader, Schmidt grew up reading every issue of Butterfat and Country Life in BC, never imagining he would one day become a pivotal member of the latter.
He began writing for Country Life in BC in 1985, eventually growing his roster of outlets to include Western Dairy Farmer, Prairie Hog Report, Greenhouse Canada and Canadian Poultry.
Schmidt also served 10 years as agriculture writer for the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) and 15 years as media relations officer for the Abbotsford Agrifair. He also supported the BC Outstanding Young Farmers program with his writing.
Stepping into semi-retirement in 2017, Schmidt continued to enjoy attending the annual dairy self-tour and old-time plowing matches in the Fraser Valley. When the pandemic hit, and gathering shut down, he went into full retirement but remained the living memory of farm journalists in BC and across Canada who could always be counted on for direction.
“Farmers are my audience and the fact they tolerate and even appreciate my efforts is extremely gratifying,” he said in 2018.
That appreciation was shown on a number of occasions, including the 2018 Scotiabank Champion of Agriculture Award, a 2017 lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Farm Writers Federation and the 2000 BC Agriculturist of the Year Award from the BC Institute of Agrologists. Schmidt also received several CFWF awards for his reporting.
Schmidt never married, but is remembered by his siblings, as well as nieces, nephews and countless friends within the agriculture sector and beyond.