The flooding of Peace farmland for the Site C reservoir has been pushed back till next year, but funds continue to flow to projects in the region from the BC Hydro Peace Agricultural Compensation Fund created to offset its impacts.
The fund’s board of directors has approved $107,155 in grants to six projects that support agricultural production and related economic activity in the Peace region.
The largest grants include $50,000 to Hasberry Farms Inc. in Chetwynd for the construction of a haskap processing facility and $31,743 to Josh Wiebe for farmland development in Buick Creek.
The new haskap facility will support the distribution and marketing of a local product, reducing production costs while increasing sales. “[This] will help ensure the long-term sustainability of the current agricultural production, as well as the additional production coming over the next five to eight years,” Northern Development Initiative Trust, which administers the fund, said in announcing the new recipients.
The initiative in Buick Creek will prepare previously logged land for crop production as well as a rotational grazing scheme supporting 60 feeder steers annually. “After approximately six years, when the wood product has organically decomposed, the land can be fully utilized as arable farmland,” the trust said.
Other projects support fencing and ranch infrastructure, as well as a livestock scale for use both on-farm and by local 4-H club members.
Since the fund’s inception in 2018, it has disbursed more than $3.6 million to 101 projects.
BC Hydro has the option to initiate a five-year review of the program this fall.
“By looking back at past projects, keeping a diligent gaze on current proposals and turning an eye to the future, the board is ensuring the fund is a source of agricultural funding that local producers can rely on,” board chair Heather Fossum remarked in the fund’s annual report this spring. “The future is bright and this fund is in a strong position to benefit agriculture and agrifood activity in the Peace Region for years to come.”