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
STORIES IN THIS EDITION
One province, one panel
Groundwater deadline extended
Happy as a pig!
Sidebar: Still waiting
Feds pour millions into tree fruit research
Sidebar: Will local procurement help?>
Editorial: Confined spaces
Back Forty: BC farmers need more than a land bank
Island Good campaign drives local sales
Poultry industry seeks to stop infighting
Egg farmers to receive biggest quota boost ever
New entrant focus
Decision day looms for chicken pricing appeal
Producers look to CanadaGAP for certification
Organic sector undertakes core review
Hopping to it!
Island couple named Outstanding Young Farmers
Turkey consumption continues to decline
BC potato growers enjoy a strong footing
Sudden tree fruit dieback a growing concern
Late season BC cherries in global demand
Farmers’ markets aim to be local food hubs
Field trial hopes to reduce phosphorus levels
Future looking bright for BC dairy producers
BC could benefit from US trade battles
Saputo puts its Courtenay plant out to pasture
The land of milk and salmon
Sidebar: Farming for the future
Out of the hands of BC farmers
Codes of practice need producer input
Preparation essential for wildfire response
Sidebar: Relief announced for drought, fire
Sidebar: Be FireSmart with these tips
New traceability regs to track movement
Agriculture a notable threat to species at risk
Improper pesticide use threatens access
Threat to neonics spurs scare in spud growers
Orchard presses forward with diversification
Staying on top of soil health is key to sound farming
No small potatoes
Farm families need to have affairs in order
Rotary parlours go upscale at two FV dairies
Study compares organic, conventional diets
Advisory service foresees growing demand
Sidebar: Tree fruit cutbacks a concern
Island dairy producers hone first aid skills
Woodshed: And that’s how rumours get their teeth
Research farm showcases small projects
Jude’s Kitchen: Shooting stars of spring