Agriculture

The Northeast region of British Columbia, also known as the Peace region, has a robust agricultural sector which includes a range of products such as grain, oil seed, honey and livestock. With an abundance of rural and agricultural land and a combination of flatland, foothills and mountains, the Northeast is similar to a prairie landscape.
With close to 2.5 million acres in production, the Northeast region is the largest agricultural region in British Columbia, and home to some 1,800 farms, producing well over $100 million worth of product annually. The area has an optimal low-temperature growing season coupled with long hours of daylight, which make agricultural production successful.
Almost 90% of British Columbia's grain and 95% of Canola are produced in the Northeast. Farms in the Northeast enjoy the dual advantages of low land prices and low cost of production. The area’s proximity to west coast grain terminals is also a significant cost advantage. Areas of potential growth and diversification for the sector include livestock finishing, dairy and eggs, and expanded game farming.



Ministry of Agriculture

The Ministry of Agriculture helps the agriculture, fisheries, food and bioproduct sectors to grow and achieve economic, social and environmental sustainability, supporting the delivery of safe, healthy and high quality food and bioproducts. From the traditional family farm to vineyards, fisheries, cattle ranches, high-tech greenhouses and state-of-the-art processing facilities, British Columbia’s agrifoods sector will play its part in generating new jobs, stimulating investment and inciting growth across the province. The sector currently provides more than 61,000 jobs and generates close to $10.5 billion a year in provincial revenues.

British Columbia has the most diverse agrifoods industry in Canada, producing more than 200 agriculture commodities and 100 seafood species. With its diverse and growing array of agrifoods products; international reputation for high food safety standards; favourable location, lower shipping costs and well-established ties to Asia-Pacific markets, British Columbia’s agrifoods sector is well positioned for growth and investment, taking into account trends, opportunities and challenges.

The Ministry of Agriculture serves a variety of functions:

  • delivers programs to stabilize farm incomes against circumstances beyond farmers’ control;
  • works to balance urban / agriculture interests; 
  • supports a regulatory system and practices that promote environmentally sustainable systems, food safety and socially responsible production practices; 
  • monitors and manages, in partnership with the Ministry of Health and the Federal government, the risk of diseases that threaten B.C.’s plant and animal production systems;
  • provides guidance and funding to the sector to increase innovation, competitiveness and profitability to meet consumer demands; 
  • supports the agriculture industry to contribute to the green economy
  • works with other ministries, federal partners and other governments, stakeholders and industry to ensure sustainable marine fisheries; and 
  • supports the growth and development of the seafood sector. 

The Ministry relies on inter-agency partnerships such as those with the Agricultural Land Commission and the B.C. Farm Industry Review Board.
The Ministry of Agriculture website provides a wide range of industry related government websites as well as information on Ministry activities, programs and services.

http://www.gov.bc.ca/agri/



Agricultural Land Commission

The Agricultural Land Commission is an administrative tribunal that oversees the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR), a provincial land use zone that recognizes agriculture as a priority use. The Commission operates independently but is funded through the Ministry of Agriculture. The purpose of the commission is to preserve agricultural land, encourage farming in collaboration with other communities of interest, and encourage local governments, First Nations, the government and its agents to enable and accommodate farm use of agricultural land and uses compatible with agriculture in their plans, bylaws and policies.

The ALR is a provincial zone in which agriculture is recognized as the priority use. Farming is encouraged and non-agricultural uses are controlled. The ALR covers approximately 4.7 million hectares. It includes private and public lands that may be farmed, forested or vacant land. Some ALR blocks cover thousands of hectares while others are small pockets of only a few hectares. In total, the ALR comprises those lands within British Columbia that have the potential for agricultural production.

The Agricultural Land Commission website provides information on the Agricultural Land Commission Act, activities of the Commission, and access to application forms.

www.alc.gov.bc.ca


British Columbia Farm Industry Review Board

The BC Farm Industry Review Board is a statutory appeal body with additional responsibilities for the general supervision of commodity boards and commissions in addition to administering the Farm Practices Protection (Right to Farm) Act. The British Columbia Farm Industry Review Board is accountable to government for its administrative operations, but is independent of government in its decision-making. As an independent tribunal, The British Columbia Farm Industry Review Board ensures that the public interest is served and protected.
The British Columbia Farm Industry Review Board website provides additional information on their role in regulating farming in British Columbia.

www.firb.gov.bc.ca


BC Association of Farmers’ Markets

The BC Association of Farmers’ Markets is a provincially registered, non-profit association, run by a volunteer Board of Directors. Their membership includes farmers’ markets, vendors and other interested groups and individuals.

Founded in 2000, the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets has emerged as the leading organization and main voice for farmers’ markets in the province. By the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets calculation there were 125 farmers’ markets operating in British Columbia in 2010, up from 100 in 2005/2006. The BC Association of Farmers’ Markets is committed to the developing and strengthening the capacity of farmers’ markets in all regions of British Columbia.

The purpose of the society is:

  • to support British Columbia producers of agricultural products, food products, and crafts;
  • to promote, educate, encourage, develop and support farmers' markets in the communities of BC;
  • to educate the public to choose healthy British Columbia grown agricultural products to ensure a secure food system, to reduce the carbon footprint and to ensure the viability of farming into the future;
  • to represent the farmers' markets of BC in all matters in which they are generally interested; and
  • to advocate to industry, government, agencies, commissions and boards on matters which impact and interest the members.

 

The BC Association of Farmers’ Markets website provides information on training opportunities, a market directory, and membership access.

www.bcfarmersmarket.org


BC Young Farmer’s Association

 The BC Young Farmers Association is newly formed, four year old organization that is energized and excited about moving into the future. They have a membership of over 250 young farmers from commodity categories including beef cattle, berries, dairy, field vegetables, flowers, fox, grain, greenhouse, hay, mink, nursery, pork, poultry, pigeon, eggs, duck, geese, sheep, lamb, goats, horse, vineyard, tree fruits, bee's, and organic & specialty producers. There is a diverse range in size and location of farms with members. Members are located on Vancouver Island, in the Lower Mainland, the Okanagan, and the Cariboo.

The BC Young Farmers Association website provides resources, event listings, and a network for young farmers.

www.bcyf.ca


British Columbia Cattlemen’s Association

The British Columbia Cattlemen's Association has been the official voice of cattle ranchers throughout British Columbia since 1929. For more than 80 years, the Association - whose membership is close to 1,200 ranchers - has represented the interests of beef cattle producers in the province of British Columbia. The British Columbia Cattlemen's Association is proud to work on behalf of approximately 72% of the provincial cattle herd.

Their mission is to maintain a healthy cattle industry that provides quality beef products to consumers and is guided by strong volunteer membership, environmental stewardship, respect for stakeholders and excellent business practices. They work with Federal and Provincial governments to ensure the enactment of necessary legislation; the enforcement thereof and the improvement of transportation and market conditions in connection with the industry. 
The British Columbia Cattlemen’s Association website provides access to membership, information about their programs and information for consumers.

www.cattlemen.bc.ca


 

BC Food Processors Association

 The vision of the BC Food Processor Association is to be the lead representative for the BC food and natural health product processing industry, and to achieve economic prosperity and sustainable safe production. They provide their members with support, training, fellowship, and a strong voice. For the public they provide good food, innovative nutrition solutions, public policy advice, sustainable economic benefits for communities, and public education. The BC Food Processor Association offers a myriad of information for food and natural health product manufacturers, start-up businesses, government organizations and the public.

The BC Food Processor Association website provides information on member services, resources, programs and events.

www.bcfpa.ca 


Small Scale Food Processor Association

The Small Scale Food Processor Association supports local business people to expand local economies and ensure the safety and supply of food products. Their mission is to be Canada’s leading support organization for small enterprises in the food processing industry by providing leadership, education, marketing, networking and advocacy to foster success in a competitive global market.

They deliver education and offer funding to food processors to implement food safety systems at regulated standards. Their members are well educated and informed, focused on infrastructure and resource development that will support small scale agri-food processing. A commitment to supporting local businesses, local jobs, local infrastructure, and local taxes is strong.

The Small Scale Food Processor Association website provides information on membership, food safety planning and workshops.

www.ssfpa.net



Investment Agriculture Foundation of British Columbia

The Investment Agriculture Foundation of British Columbia was established in 1996 as an industry-led, not-for-profit organization. They represent a significant component of the agriculture and agri-food community, from farm supply to primary production to post-farm gate and food processing. Their focus is to work with clients, industry and funding partners and invest in projects that have the potential to transform ideas into solutions. The Investment Agriculture Foundation strategically invests federal and provincial funds in support of innovative projects to benefit the agri-food industry in British Columbia. Funding is available to help the industry seize new opportunities and deal with emerging issues.

A wide range of funding programs is offered to assist the agriculture and food processing industries in British Columbia. There are programs such as the Livestock Waste Tissue Initiative, Poultry Programs, and the Agri-Food Futures Fund. All funding initiatives have the mission of investing in projects that enable the British Columbia agri-food industry to innovate, proactively seize new opportunities and deal with emerging issues.

The Investment Agriculture Foundation of British Columbia website provides information on their funding programs and application processes.

www.iafbc.ca


Livestock & Poultry

Of all the agricultural production in the Northeast, livestock operations show perhaps the greatest potential. Abundance of space and quality feed have recently boosted both the hog and the traditional beef cattle industries, with cow/calf production now the largest in BC. The Northeast is home to some of the largest bison herds in the province, producing nearly three-quarters of BC’s bison. Livestock production also includes dairy cattle, sheep, goats, and horses, with a growing diversification into game farming of reindeer, and exotic livestock including llama, alpaca, fox, ostrich, emu, and wild boar. There are also a number of poultry producers in the region and approximately 40,000 hens and chickens are slaughtered in the region each year.

There are four abattoirs located in the region, two in Dawson Creek and two in Farmington. The livestock abattoir and poultry processing facility in Dawson Creek are the only federally inspected facilities in the region. Access to federally-inspected facilities gives a competitive advantage to this region as it allows access to the retail sector for British Columbia produced and processed meat products. Most grocery retailers within the province require their meat products to be processed by a federally licensed plant. The livestock processing facility in Dawson Creek also offers certified organic services.

Vold Jones Vold Auction and the Dawson Creek Exhibition Association host the Dawson Creek Auction. There are livestock auctions takes place every Thursday, and often on Monday’s. Interested parties can view the calendar online and participate in person or over the internet.


BC South Peace River Stockmen’s Association

BC South Peace River Stockmen's Association was incorporated in 1953 to serve the livestock producers of the South Peace River area. The Association joined the BC Beef Growers Association (now the British Columbia Cattlemen's Association) and is the South Peace member local of the Peace River Regional Cattlemen's Association. The Association offers memberships that include full membership in the Peace River Regional Cattlemen's Association and the British Columbia Cattlemen's Association. Membership helps maintain and strengthen the beef industry in the Northeast.

The BC South Peace River Stockmen’s Association website includes information about their services and programs.

http://www.spstockmen.com/index.html


Grain & Oil Seed

The production of grains such as wheat, oats and barley and oilseeds such as canola, have traditionally dominated the agricultural industry in the Northeast. Almost 90% of BC’s grain and 95% of BC’s canola are produced in the Peace, as well as 90% of the dry field peas and 95% of forage seeds. Local availability of high quality feed grains help make livestock production in the North Peace particularly competitive. 

The Peace is a prime area for producing exceptional quality grass seeds. As one of Canada’s most northern farming regions, the Peace benefits from long daylight hours during the summer, allowing for the production of crops which require a high number of growing degree days.

Three companies operate grain elevators and there is one rail terminal operating in Dawson Creek. There is a biofuels plant proposed that would produce 40 million litres of biodiesel annually. The plant could consume 15-20% of all canola produced in BC and the Alberta Peace region.



Peace Region Forage Seed Association

The Peace Region Forage Seed Association has earned trust and respect throughout the forage, turf and native seed industry and is recognized as the vehicle to represent this region's industry and spearhead initiatives on its behalf. Their mandate is to collectively develop the forage seed industry in the Peace Region, exchange information and prioritize issues, and cooperate and have mutual respect among members within the industry.
The Peace Region Forage Seed Association website provides membership information, access to research reports and market updates.

http://www.peaceforageseed.ca/about.html



B.C. Grain Producers

The purpose of the BC Grain Producers Association is to improve the viability of the grains and oilseed industry in the BC Peace River region. The association and its members maintain sustained connections with other agencies to benefit the field crop industry. The association encourages all farmers to participate within their industry so that their voices may be heard.
The BC Grain Producers Association website provides information on member organizations, research activities, and equipment rentals.

http://bcgrain.com/index.html


Honey

The Northeast is unique in offering ideal climate and nectar forage availability during the summer season. This area extends into Alberta and is among the most productive honey producing regions in the world. Average honey yield per colony often exceeds 200 lbs and individual colonies may sometimes produce in excess of 400 lbs in one season. The region’s 200 beekeepers produce 30% of the provincial honey crops. Peace region honey is renowned for its exceptional flavor.

Honey producers in the Peace region are represented by the Peace Beekeeper’s Association, in connection with the British Columbia Honey Producer’s Association.