by David Schmidt
ABBOTSFORD – After graduating from high school, Gary Baars hung up a shingle as TNT Agri-Services, offering “relief milking and much more.” On January 11, that “much more” made the now 33-year-old Chilliwack dairyman, hay salesman and cattle dealer and his wife, Marie (26), the BC & Yukon Outstanding Young Farmers for 2017.
In 2006, TNT Agri-Services became TNT Hay Sales as Baars started selling hay, first to local horse farms and then to local dairy farms.
“We sell a lot of hay to different dairy farms,” Baars says.
Not long after, the young entrepreneur expanded TNT to include cattle sales. When Farm Credit Canada offered him a large loan with “no strings attached” in early 2011, Baars used it to start his own dairy farm.
“I had enough money to buy quota for 15 cows,” he recalls.
Two years later, Marie’s grandmother asked the Baars to also manage her 160-cow 80-acre dairy farm in east Abbotsford. They agreed, on condition they could buy it.
“We amalgamated our small herd with her larger herd and have been steadily improving the facilities,” Baars reports.
His entrepreneurship did not stop there. Last year, he purchased additional hay-growing acreage in Greendale and bought a 472-acre 100-cow dairy in Manitoba with two partners.
“We have already grown that farm by 20%,” Baars says.
He has also served as a director of both the Mainland Young Milk Producers and the BC Young Farmers.
Baars’ entrepreneurial spirit extends itself to his recreational activities. Twice a year, Gary and his father-in-law hold Cornfield Races, inviting friends and neighbours to race beat-up cars on the farm.
To earn the 2017 award from judges Rick Thiessen (2004 BC & Canadian Outstanding Young Farmer), Mark Sweeney (retired BC Ministry of Agriculture berry specialist) and Kurt Bausenhaus (partner in KPMG Abbotsford), the Baars outpointed Jeremy and Tamara Vaandrager of Vaandrager Farms in west Abbotsford.
Vaandragers close second
After managing several egg farms for other owners, the Vaandragers obtained a 3,000-bird quota in the 2010 BC Egg Marketing Board new entrant lottery.
They have since increased their quota to 6,000 birds and are in the process of converting their farm from a free-run operation to an aviary.
“Aviaries are common in Europe but still relatively new in North America,” Vaandrager notes.
Gary and Marie Baars will represent BC at the national OYF competition to be held in Penticton in November.
Vol. 103 Issue 2
Well licensing deadline extended
Collaborative effort on dairy safety
Walking the talk
Chilliwack farm sales surged in fall 2016
Changes on tap for Sunshine Coast brewer
Ag Brief: Carrots to cattle conference puts focus on profits
Ag Brief: CFIA seeks input on transport of livestock
Ag Brief: Beirnes joins Summerland Varieties Corp
Ag Brief: BC Tree Fruits picks CEO
Chicken growers ready to battle over pricing
Operating at a loss for a good cause: MMP
Milk board ups dairy quota
Quota subject to new tax rules
Succession isn’t easy
Million dollar winners
GMO resolution fueling debate in Bulkley Valley
Sidebar: RDBN ag committee turns one
FarmFolk CityFolk to protect farmland
Lower than normal snowpack
Fruit plant gets $1 million load
Big picture, big change
Non-browning apples ready to test market
Council steps up fight against invasive knotweed
Island Pastures Beef seeks expansion to meet demand
Slaughterhouse rules: not so tricky
Keeping it sustainable: Springford Farm
Sidebar: Free range and responsible
Sustainable agriculture takes lead from nature
Soil probes dig into water management issues
Sparkling wines shine in diverse BC regions
Changing direction: Langley
Sustainable Ag Tour
Canada celebrates ag day
Knockout punch eludes researchers in wireworm battle
Wireworm victory needs more than silver bullet
Canada’s Mediterranean living up to its name
BC welcomes new scientists
Good things come in small packages: Lowlines
New Societies Act will impact BC farm groups
Blessed are the cheesemakers