Agriculture

The Thompson-Nicola Regional District (TNRD) has a diverse agricultural sector which includes a wide range of products. 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. 483,371 hectares of land is currently being farmed in the TNRD with a total of 1,211 farms. The vast majority of farmland in the TNRD is unmanaged pasture used in ranching operations, and the largest ranching operation in Canada is located east of Merritt. There is a long history of ranching in the area because of the natural grass lands that are found in the area. Agriculture is a growing industry in the TNRD and is becoming increasingly important as concerns regarding food security become more and more important.

British Columbia 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 bio-products. 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 agrifood 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 andindustry 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. ALR lands cover just less than 13% of the Thompson-Nicola Regional District.

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 a newly formed, four year old organization that is energized and excited about moving into the future. It has 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.

Its 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. It works 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


North Thompson Food Action Network

The North Thompson Food Action Network is a non-profit working group of dedicated North Thompson volunteers whose purpose is to help improve food security in the North Thompson Valley by strengthening the region's local food system through communication, education, and by championing local food security initiatives.

In 2007, a group of North Thompson Valley residents concerned about sustainability issues formed the North Thompson Sustainable Watershed Committee to address issues such as reducing the region's ecological footprint, maintaining the quality of its water supply, the impacts of rising fossil fuel prices, climate change, to name a few.

A number of initiatives were embarked upon and food security was identified as a key sustainability issue that needed to be addressed.  Funding was secured from the Interior Health Authority to develop a Regional Food Action Plan, and to initiate projects to enhance food security in the Valley.

During the development of the North Thompson Regional Food Action Plan, a series of workshops were held to identify important food security issues.  The North Thompson Food Action Network subsequently was formed to address the priorities identified in the Regional Food Action Plan.

The Regional Food Action Plan workshops highlighted the need for greater communication and education about food security, and thus this website was created to address these needs.


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. It provides their members with support, training, fellowship, and a strong voice. For the public, the BC Food Processors Association provides good food, innovative nutrition solutions, public policy advice, sustainable economic benefits for communities, and public education. The BC Food Processors 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 looking to expand local economies and ensure the safety and supply of food products. Its 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.

The Small Scale Food Processor Association delivers education and offers funding to food processors to implement food safety systems at regulated standards. Its 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 (IAFBC) was established in 1996 as an industry-led, not-for-profit organization. IAFBC represents a significant component of the agriculture and agri-food community, from farm supply to primary production to post-farm gate and food processing. Its 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 are 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 (BCGGA) represents greenhouse vegetable farmers in British Columbia. The association’s 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 its 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 BCGGA’s 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


BC Food Security Gateway

The Food Security Gateway is designed to be a one stop web resource for food security practitioners and others in British Columbia who wish to make healthy eating the easy choice and build food-secure communities. The Gateway is meant to inform and link you to projects, initiatives and organizations in British Columbia as well as publications, tools, guides, news and events – so that you, too, can contribute to building a healthy B.C. This portal was developed and is maintained in partnership by the Provincial Health Services Authority and the Public Health Association of BC.

For more information on projects, initiatves, and events check out BC food security gateway's website at:

www.bcfoodsecuritygateway.ca


Kamloops Food Policy Council

The Kamloops Food Policy Council (KFPC), established in 1995, has emphasized public education on food security issues as well as concrete food system projects, such as the very successful Community Gardens which were initiated with the help of land provided by the City of Kamloops and donations from service clubs and private citizens. The KFPC acts as an umbrella, providing an opportunity for project and advocacy groups to co-ordinate their work.

This includes groups such as:

  • Gardengate
  • Community Gardens
  • Community Kitchens
  • Farmer’s Markets
  • Good Food Box
  • Farm to School Program
  • Heartland Quality Foods


It also acts as forum where the experiences and insights derived from these grassroots projects can be framed as policies for adoption by agencies, institutions and governments. One such document is the Kamloops Food Action Plan.

For more information of the Kamloops Food Policy Council visit their website:

www.kamloopsfoodpolicycouncil.com

Farmers Markets are growing in popularity throughout the region. These markets are growing in size and some have added extra days. Farmers markets provide a direct relationship between the farmer and the consumer that increases consumer connectivity with their food and helps to build regional food security. Farmers markets throughout the region provide opportunities for small scale farmers to market their wares in a low cost forum.

Barriere Farmers' Market
Day and Time: Thursday 10:00am - 2:00pm
Location: 4307 Yellowhead S. HWY 5, Barriere

Clearwater Farmers' Market
Day and Time: Saturday 9:00am - 12:00pm
Location: The grounds of Interior Whitewater Expedition

Kamloops Regional Farmers' Market
Day and Time: Wednesday 8:00am - 2pm Saturday 8:00am - 12:00pm
Location: Wednesday market is held in the 400 block of Victoria St, in front of the library. Saturday market is held in the 200 block of St Paul St and the Stuart Wood schoolyard.

Logan Lake Open Market
Day and Time: Sunday 10:00am - 2:00pm
Location: In front of the truck and shovel across from the Recreation centre on highway 97D

Nicola Valley Farmers' Market
Day and Time: Saturday 9:00am - 2:00pm
Location: Voght Street and Merritt Avenue, (2200 block of Voght), next to the Baillie house

Sun Peaks and Region Farmers' Market
Day and Time: Sunday 10:00am - 2:00pm
Location: Sun Peaks Village Square


Meat

Beef production is an important part of agriculture in the TNRD, nearly 20% of all beef cattle in B.C. are found in the TNRD. This impressive beef industry is led by the largest working cattle ranch in Canada; the Douglas Lake Cattle Company Ltd. It is located east of Merritt and has approximately 20,000 head of cattle. Most ranches have a significant amount of land dedicated to field crops as well as grazing. Popular crops include alfalfa, tame hay and other fodder crops. There are a range of other meat products available in the TNRD. There is one large Buffalo Ranch near 70 Mile House called the XH Buffalo Ranch, which usually has approximately 70 buffalo. Other livestock raised for meat in the TNRD include but are not limited to pig, lamb, goat, and llama.


Slaughter Houses

There are three licensed red meat processing facilities in the TNRD.

  • 1) XH Buffalo Ranch: Located near 70 Mile House. Use is reserved exclusively for the processing of its own livestock.
  • 2) Rainer Custom Cutting Located in Darfield, about 16 kilometers north of Barriere. It is licensed to slaughter both red meat and poultry. It also offers some processes services such as curing, sausages and cut and wrap.
  • 3) Kam Lake View Meats: Located just west of Kamloops. It is a strictly red meat facility and do offer uncertified halal services. It also provides a number of processing services such as cut and wrip, smoking, curing and sausages.


There are four licensed poultry slaughter houses in the TNRD.

  • 1) The Pluckin' Maniacs: Located just west of Kamloops. It offers organic, halal and kosher services. The Pluckin' Maniacs have one fixed facility, and then 6 docking stations throughout the region, there are 3 in the Kamloops area, 1 near Loon Lake, 1 near Clinton and 1 near Vernon. The company has a website with much more information including pricing, processing schedules and do's and don'ts. Visit pluckinmaniacs.com for more information.
  • 2) My-Les Poultry: Located in Pritchard, B.C. about 15 kilometres south of Chase. My-Les Poultry slaughters turkey and chicken. It offers cut and bag processing services.
  • 3) J & B Farms: Located in Pinantan Lake, B.C. about 30 Kilometers north east of Kamloops. J & B Farms slaughters both chicken and turkey and providing cleaning and bagging processing services. The company does have a website that has more information on the abattoir and the farm itself. Visit jbfarms.ca for more information.
  • 4) Rainer Custom Cutting Located in Darfield, about 16 kilometers north of Barriere. It is licensed to slaughter both red meat and poultry. It also offers some processes services such as curing, sausages and cut and wrap.


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

There are a number of vegetable producers in the region whose sales range from farm-gate to wholesale. There are approximately 160 hectares of land that are dedicated to the production of vegetables in the TNRD spread out through 65 farms. The primary vegetable crops are sweet corn, dry onions, carrots, tomatoes and peppers. There is a wide variety of other vegetable produced included cucumbers, green peas, and lettuces.

There is approximately 59 hectares of land that is dedicated to fruits and berries spread throughout 74 farms in the TNRD. Apples are by far the largest crops with 17 hectares dedicated to their production alone. The main berry crops are strawberries and raspberries. Other important fruits include grapes, sweet cherries, and peaches. There are some greenhouse operations in the TNRD, with a total vegetable coverage of approximately 14,000 m2.

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.