BC’s grain sector is a top beneficiary of the latest round of funding from the fifth disbursement from the Peace Agricultural Compensation Fund.
The fund announced awards totalling $517,000 on December 2, with 19 projects – including five in the grain sector, which collectively received $247,000 for research, development and infrastructure.
The single largest grant of $100,000 went to the BC Grain Producers Association for field research to improve the sustainability of farms in the region. It will support the work of Krystin Brody, who joined the association in July to manage a new field-scale research program.
BCGPA president Malcolm Odermatt says the program aims to support work producers undertake on their own farms, including development of research plans and tracking data. The projects can focus on new varieties, crop management, fungicides, insecticides or growth regulators.
“It can be any project that producers feel can make them more profitable, more sustainable,” says Odermatt. “We want to partner with them to make sure the data’s done accurately and then we can also help producers out with doing these trials – a little financial bonus.”
Three farms received a total of $147,000 for grain dryers and a grain cleaner, equipment that will help maintain and improve grain quality.
“(With) producers getting bigger and bigger that means we have to start earlier and go later, and that requires mechanically drying grain. We can’t rely on Mother Nature to do it all the time,” explains Odermatt, who says the grants benefit the industry as a whole because several farms can use the equipment to dry grain from harvest through to December and even January.
“Even though one producer might get the money and set up the dryer, other producers can utilize it and just pay a fee for drying,” he says. “It’s far cheaper than taking it to the elevator, so it does open up marketing opportunities.”
In June 2021, the federal government announced $50 million through the Agricultural Clean Technology Program to help growers purchase more efficient grain dryers.
In addition to grain producers, the grant program allocated $50,000 to Venator Ranches in Hudson’s Hope for a slaughter, cut and wrap facility to process beef and bison. The two packing plants in the Peace currently run at full capacity and have limited ability to do custom work for small producers. Northern Development Initiative Trust administers the funding program, established in 2018 with $20 million from BC Hydro to offset the agricultural impacts of the Site C dam.