Nineteen projects have received $517,000 in funding from the BC Hydro Peace Agricultural Compensation Fund
The Northern Development Initiative Trust says grant awards are from the fifth intake of the $20-million bi-annual fund, established in 2018 to offset the impacts of the Site C dam on farmland in the region.
“We are very pleased to see such a significant number of projects approved for this intake," said NDIT CEO Joel McKay. "The Trust applauds the diversity and ingenuity shown from the Peace Region farmers and producers as they strive for sustainability and growth.
Major grant recipients include:
BC Grain Producers
$100,000 for the Peace Region field research project, which aims to improve the sustainability of farms in the region. The goal is to assist producers in taking risks to try new crops, varieties and practices as well as collect data to continue to adopt best management practices on their farms and encourage others to try new practices as well.
The project will assist grain producers in data collection and use information collected from multiple farms to share with others in the region. The long-term goal is to collect multiple years data and create a database for all producers to easily access unbiased research results.
“The BC Grain Producers Association is pleased to partner with the BC Hydro Peace Agricultural Compensation Fund on our new field research program to improve the sustainability of farms in the B.C. Peace," the Grain Producers said. "With the research being located on local Peace Region farms, mentorship opportunities and knowledge transfer will arise for new and young grain producers in the area.”
Venator Ranches Ltd.
$50,000 for a slaughter, cut and wrap facility that will allow for an increase in the harvest of beef and bison in the Peace Region. There are currently two packing plants in the Peace running at full capacity that are limited in their ability to custom harvest for small valued added brands.
This new plant will have the capability to service cattle and bison producers from the Fort St. John, Chetwynd, Hudson’s Hope and Peace valley region. It will add benefit by turning live animals into a high value, sellable product and in turn, improve the economic bottom line of the beef and bison producers through increased farm gate sales.
“It’s wonderful to have the partnership of BC Hydro and the support to help facilitate the construction of a plant that will allow us to value add the livestock we produce at ranch and help feed people of B.C.," said owner and company president Dr. Christoph Weder.
Muddy Creek Livestock Ltd.
$27,286 for a livestock goat handling system. Certain regions of the ranch were under-utilized due to the single species grazing model (cattle only) and are primarily made up of coniferous and deciduous trees, woody shrubs and native grasses. To utilize the diverse native plant species, a small flock of meat goats were added to the operation in 2021.
The goats preferring woody shrubs and weeds over the grasses and despite having unlimited access to fresh, clean drinking water, the goats consumed very little. This project serves as an opportunity to build the ranch’s resilience against drought, in addition to improving the utilization of their current land base.
Allison and Marty Mackay
$26,349 for the Peace Region Farm Store, which will allow local farmers to sell their produce and allow consumers to purchase a variety of locally produced farm goods in one central location. The store location is adjacent to, and visible from, the Alaska Highway at Mile 30 (halfway between Dawson Creek and Fort St. John). This location caters to locals as well as tourists passing through, with a real opportunity to showcase Peace country farm goods. The farm store will cater to farmer’s needs and time constraints, while also providing a venue tailored to the consumer’s needs.
"The decision to help fund the building of our Peace Region Farm Store demonstrates the importance of providing local farm products – products from many farms across the region – at a farm-based and accessible location," said Allison Mackay. "It is becoming increasingly important to know where your food comes from and that you can access a great deal of food (and other products) right here in the Peace Region. Our Peace Region Farm Store aims to fill this need.”
Fifteen other smaller projects were awarded funding:
North Peace 4-H District Council - $2,362 for a beef announcer booth
Chetwynd Public Library Association - $3,275 for community gardening literacy
Wollen Sons Ranch Ltd - $9,289 for winter watering and shelters
Wallace and Pam Boring - $10,027 for ranch fencing
Fort St. John Association for Community Living - $11,190 for growing connections aquaponics
Joseph Fellers - $11,400 for Cecil Lake Haskap Orchard wildlife fence
Shaun Cusack - $13,134 for the Sweet Hills Ranch Vermicast farm
Rafter LT Ranch - $14,317 for water securement
Carol Nelson - $15,157 for a sheep pasture and handling system
Niklaus and Therese Rubin - $19,080 for pasture expansion
Peace River Forage Association of B.C. - $23,244 for knowledge for resilience in the Peace
Rafter H Holdings Ltd. - $33,552 for fencing
Tea Creek Farms Ltd. - $47,080 for grain dryer capacity upgrades
Simon Loewen - $50,000 for grain cleaning equipment
Wesland Electric and Controls Inc. (D.B.A. Rafter WL Ranch) - $50,000 for high efficiency grain drying installation
The NDIT says more than $1.2 million has now been awarded to 53 projects since the ag fund was launched.