by Barbara Johnstone Grimmer
VICTORIA – The annual meeting and symposium of the BC Sheep Federation (BCSF) in Central Saanich on September 29 began with a panel of long-
BCSF president Valerie Moilliet Gerber sums up her view of challenges for the BC sheep industry in two words: predators and politicians.
Gerber has worked hard with other sheep producers to bring a wild predator compensation program to fruition but provincial elections and wildfires have delayed the program and her frustration is evident.
“Every turn, something else happens to slow us down,” says Gerber.
This summer there were losses all over the province to every type of predator. Gerber’s family lost 21 sheep to a wolf.
Metchosin abattoir operator John Buchanan of Parry Bay Sheep Farm also lists predators as a challenge.
The area where his sheep graze was long predator-
Predators aren’t Buchanan’s only concern.
As an abattoir operator, Buchanan faces challenges keeping his workers. A concern for local slaughter plants is seasonal fluctuations in demand for their services. Rather than lay off then rehire workers, Buchanan prefers to retain his workers and find year-
And his view on the price of lamb?
“Lamb will never be priced like chicken when it is so expensive to grow,” he says.
Saturna Island sheep producer and abattoir operator Jacques Campbell serves as director to the BC Association of Abattoirs (BCAA). Her farm was developed by her parents who were agriculture graduates from UBC. The slaughterhouse was built in 1958 and used for years before the meat regulations changed in 2007.
“This was a game-
Every time a grant became available, Campbell applied. She took a humane handling course, then became eligible to access funds to improve animal welfare and built a cattle kill-
Campbell’s abattoir operates seasonally from June to January because feed is too expensive to lamb year-
Lorea Tomsin, president of the Inter Island Sheep Breeders Association and BC director with the Canadian Sheep Breeders’ Association, commented on the year-
Tomsin emphasized the importance of a united national organization to speak for sheep producers on issues of national concern, including biosecurity, strong trade policies and the upcoming traceability regulations. It’s also important for the association to be able to serve as the industry’s ear to government.
Tomsin also touched on the value of lamb meat. She encouraged producers to price with confidence, knowing what their costs are and the work that goes into raising the animals.
“Don’t be shy to price lamb fairly – to you,” she says.
Bev Greenwell, president of the BC Purebred Sheep Breeders’ Association and editor of BC Sheep N’Ewes for the BC Sheep Federation, talked about the challenges on her ranch in Princeton.
Greenwell and her husband grow alfalfa-
Greenwell also mentions efforts to meet the challenge of aging farmers by using more mechanization for water and haying equipment. Greenwell has concerns about climate change, especially with recent droughts and wildfires. She was impacted this summer after a wet, warm spring encouraged a bolt of grass growth, then heat withered it into the perfect fuel for fires.
Combined with bighorn sheep, which often show up where they shouldn’t be, and sheep ranching in Princeton is clearly no picnic.
“Politics are intensified,” says Greenwell.
Vol. 103 Issue 11
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