An unprecedented year for BC farmers led to unprecedented recognition for Country Life in BC at the Canadian Farm Writers Federation awards in Regina last week.
The paper’s coverage of last year’s extreme weather and resilient people in words and photos garnered eight awards at the October 1 event, which drew entries from across Canada.
Photo of the Year went to Chelsea Meier of U&D Meier Dairy Ltd. in Abbotsford, whose front-page drone shot of last November’s flooding on Sumas Prairie captured her family’s farm surrounded by rising water as she awaited rescue.
It is the paper’s the second Photo of the Year award; the first was four years ago, depicting the devastation of another unprecedented event – the 2017 wildfires in the Chilcotin.
Kamloops photographer Murray Mitchell received a bronze award in the People category for his photo of Rhonda and Wayne MacDonald of Merritt on the cover of the November 2021 issue. Wildfire ripped through the MacDonald’s ranch last summer, and the couple have since faced two subsequent weather-related disasters.
Mitchell’s photo bumped contributor Ronda Payne’s photo of Vic Forster and Theresa O’Connor at Riverside Cranberries in Langley tossing cranberries for the camera of the November 2021 cover, but came out on top in the People category with a gold award.
In the Production category, photojournalist Jean-Phillipe Marquis won silver for a photo the Tsawwassen Farm School submitted two years ago and finally used alongside a hog story in the August 2021 issue.
Myrna Stark Leader received bronze for her ‘Night Moves’ shot on the August 2021 cover. It previously won first place in the Production category as part of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists Star Awards in July.
On the writing front, Kate Ayers won top spot for her coverage of dairy farmers’ response to last year’s heat dome with the technical feature, “Helping cattle keep their cool in the heat” (August 2021). The highly competitive category saw the most entries of any, and Ayers finished ahead of veteran writers Karen Davidson of Ontario and CFWF Writer of the Year Trevor Bacque of Alberta.
“Farmers struggle to get insurance coverage” (July 2021) won Jackie Pearase bronze in the Current Affairs category.
On a lighter note, columnist Anna Helmer received gold in the Opinion category for “To hoard or not to hoard” (November 2021).