Agriculture

The North Central region of British Columbia has a diverse agricultural sector which includes a range of products such as beef, vegetables, berries, and wheat. The abundance of rural and agricultural land in the region, and opportunities to enhance the regional distribution of product, allow for significant growth in this sector.


BC 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.

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



Beyond the Market: Growing the North


Photo Credit: Ali KarimianBeyond the Market: Growing the North
aims to build, strengthen, and diversify the
agriculture and food service industries from Valemount to Terrace in British Columbia, linking farmers, ranchers, purchasers and consumers in the region in an effort to identify the barriers to the local food industry and encourage collaboration and entrepreneurial development to overcome them.

Beyond the market is a collaborative partnership between Community Futures of Fraser-Fort GeorgeCommunity Futures Nadina, Community Futures 16-37, the Omineca Beetle Action Coalition, the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George and the Community Futures Rural Economic Diversification Initiative.

The goals of Beyond the Market include:

Create an inventory of food producers, distributors, commercial consumers and value-added processors in the region Identify existing food storage and distribution infrastructure. Assess the feasibility of a regional food distribution system and value-chain opportunities Bring producers and purchasers together to network and share information Implement local food purchasing pilot projects in commercial institutions
Host networking and learning events, including a large regional procurement event
Identify potential new markets and value-added ventures Communicate and share the project learnings

The Beyond the Market: Growing the North website provides a directory of farms in the region and the products they sell, an opportunity analysis report, and links to sites of interest.

www.beyondthemarket.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


 

BC Greenhouse Growers’ Association

The BC Greenhouse Growers’ Association represents greenhouse vegetable farmers in British Columbia. Their growers produce 96% of all of British Columbia’s greenhouse vegetable production. The BC Greenhouse Growers’ Association is committed to delivering services and research programs to our members to help keep them globally competitive and to keep a vibrant and sustainable greenhouse vegetable sector in British Columbia, while providing high-quality and safe greenhouse vegetables to consumers.

Some of their activities include:

  • Developing new, and improving existing, methods of biological controls against pests.
  • Promoting environmental sustainability through the Environmental Farm Plan Program.
  • Ensuring the production of healthy and safe vegetables for consumers.
  • Evaluating new technologies and production systems to enhance crop yields.
  • Providing information on the latest greenhouse production practices through grower seminars.
 

The BC Greenhouse Growers’ Association website provides access to publications, membership access and other resources.

www.bcgreenhouse.ca


Cariboo Central Interior Poultry Producers Association

The Cariboo Central Interior Poultry Producers Association endeavors to create economic diversification in communities of the Cariboo-Central Interior, British Columbia through agriculture initiatives.  Through these initiatives the association will foster the development of the poultry and rabbit sectors by supporting, mentoring and administrating the needs of producers.  With the healthy growth of these industries CCIPPA will contribute to vibrant, local sustainable food systems that all communities are entitled to in British Columbia. 

The CCIPA runs a Mobile Docking Station. The Mobile Docking Station is a mobile processing plant for poultry and rabbits. Poultry and rabbit farmers bring their animals to the unity for processing in an efficient and safe environment that meets regulatory standards. There is a docking station located in Prince George.
The Cariboo Central Interior Poultry Producers Association website provides information about membership and access to the mobile poultry processing unit.

http://blog.ccippa.ca/


Nechako Valley Food Network

The Nechako Valley Food Network aims to promote the growth and distribution of local agricultural products in the Nechako Valley. Their main purpose as a volunteer group is to build a database of local producers and interested consumers that can be used by both parties to find where and when local foods are available. They also work to educate and aid individuals to grow and eat their own produce in an environmentally sound way. The Nechako Valley Food Network is under the umbrella of the Nechako Healthy Community Alliance.

The Nechako Valley Food Networks website provides information about growers in the area, current initiatives and membership.

www.nvfoodnetwork.ca


 

Robson Valley Growers

 The Robson Valley Growers is a cooperative group of farmers, ranchers, and gardeners living in the Robson Valley of east central British Columbia along the upper reaches of the Fraser River. The group formed in the fall of 2009 with the purpose of coordinating the marketing efforts of its members in selling directly to the consumers.

The group is comprised of a broad cross section of the agricultural community, including grain farmers, market gardeners, and meat and egg producers. They have brought together federal and municipal government, area residents, youth and seniors, and service groups such as the Legion, Lions Club and Rotary. Relationships have been established between residents of Jasper and the Robson Valley.

The Robson Valley Growers website provides location and contact information.

www.robsonvalleygrowers.ca


Meat

Meat production, primarily beef, is well established in the region. There is a diversity of meat products available including beef, pork, rabbit, mutton, bison and lamb. There are three provincially licensed meat processing facilities in North Central British Columbia. There is a small-scale abattoir located in McBride, which bridges the gap for many local farmers, giving them the ability to market their beef to local stores. Another abattoir is located in Prince George, which processes cattle, lamb, ostrich, bison, swine, emu, sheep, goats and llama. A third abattoir is located in Vanderhoof and processes cattle, bison, goats, sheep, lamb, and swine. The kill capacity of the latter two is estimated at approximately 3,400 beef per year. Collectively, they are currently operating at approximately 45% of capacity, or 1,530 beef per year.

Most of the grocery retailers within the province require their meat products to be processed by a federally licensed plant. As there are currently only provincially licensed red meat plants operating within British Columbia, there is limited access to the retail sector for British Columbia produced and processed meat products. The majority of local beef and lamb produced and processed in the region is sold directly to end consumers in bulk packs or is sold on a carcass basis to wholesalers in the lower mainland. Greater interest in local meat procurement has been indicated from camps, retail grocers, caterers, restaurants and institutions.


Vegetable, Fruit & Berry


Photo Source: PictureBC.ca - Photo Credit: Russell WorkThere are a number of vegetable producers in the region whose sales range from farm-gate to wholesale. The main crops among the wholesale producers are carrot, rutabaga, cabbage, potato and garlic. There are many smaller producers that produce a range of crops for direct sale or market sale. These crops include broccoli, cauliflower, herbs, kale, lettuce, zucchini, squash, apples, blueberries, strawberries and raspberries.

With growing interest in local food procurement from retailers, restaurants and individuals, the demand for local vegetables, fruits and berries is increasing. There are many groups developing strategies to better market and distribute local products throughout the region. Some of the opportunities that exist are the development of local procurement policies by institutional producers and the assistance that will be needed to get local products to these groups. Some of the key challenges to expansion of this industry are an aging farming population, gaps in facilities for fruit and vegetable production, post-harvest handling, and marketing.


Poultry

There are a number of poultry producers in the region and this is set to grow with recently established processing facilities. A government inspected mobile abattoir now has a station in Prince George where producers can have their chickens processed. There is also an abattoir located in Vanderhoof, which is a government inspected facility. Chicken in the region is currently sold directly to the consumer via farm-gate or farmers’ markets. The abattoir in Vanderhoof sells in Kamloops, Mackenzie, and Quesnel.


Grain

Grain production is quite limited in the region. There are a few small-scale grain producers in operation that grow wheat, oats, rye, barley and spelt. There is one mill that processes wheat for sale at various farmers’ markets, and retail locations in the lower mainland. With cattle production well-established in the region, there are opportunities for increasing the production of grain for feed, particularly in the Vanderhoof area.


Non-timber Forest Products

There is growing interest in non-timber forest products in North Central British Columbia. Non-timber forest products are considered as any commodity obtained from the forest that does not necessitate harvesting trees. It includes game animals, nuts, seeds, berries, mushrooms and medicinal plants. There are a number of non-timber forest products that are harvested in the region including seed and cones from conifer trees; food products such as jam, jellies, mushrooms, berries, birch syrup and fiddleheads; herbal products; medicinals; floral greens; and miscellaneous forest-based arts and crafts.

There are commercial and small part-time businesses currently operating in the region. These businesses are involved in the production and distribution of non-timber forest products harvested and produced in the area and sold regionally, provincially, nationally and internationally. Many producer sell at farmers’ markets, and commercial production only exists for arts and crafts and seed cones.

The non-timber forest product that contributes the most to the economy of the area is the sale of tree seed from conifer seed cones. This seed is used for growing tree seedlings for reforesting cut-overs in the region but is also sold overseas, to the United States and to other parts of Canada.


Forest Seedlings

Forestry is a main industry in the region and there are a number of nurseries that supply tree seedlings for reforestation, site reclamation, habitat enhancement, Christmas tree plantations, and landscaping purposes. Types of seedlings being produced include white spruce, lodgepole pine, Douglas fir, western red cedar, and aspen. The two nurseries located in Prince George are large operations, one producing 8 million seedlings per year on a 130 hectare site.