Northern Development Initiative Trust is helping fund a regional agriculture coordinator position in the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako area.
Northern Development has approved $131,666 in funding to support a two year pilot project. The regional district is contributing support for the position as well, with additional funding exceeding $65,000. The funding supports ongoing pine beetle recovery initiatives following an expressed desire from communities around the region for increased support for the agriculture industry. The funds will support the coordinator’s position and agriculture related project costs over a two year term beginning this fall.
“2017 is forecast to be the fourth best year on record from the Canadian agriculture industry and northern B.C. is a contributor to that success,” said Evan Saugstad, Chair, Northern Development Initiative Trust, in a press release. “Supporting the agriculture industry as part of Northern Development’s response to the pine beetle epidemic highlights our region’s growing diversified economy. It is another way that we work to respond to the needs expressed by our communities and help to build a stronger north.”
There are currently 1,900 farms within the trust’s service area that produce livestock, and 1,734 that are engaged in producing crops primarily for animal feed. The RDBN has 840 farms operating within its boundaries. The majority of these farms do not have full-time employees, but are instead small-scale, family-run operations employing temporary or contract workers.
Small-scale producers and new farmers continue to express a desire for information about the services and supports that are available to them. In 2012, the RDBN, recognizing the significant importance of agriculture to the region’s history, economy and culture, adopted the Regional Agriculture Plan to support and strengthen the agriculture sector. During an Agriculture Forum, hosted by the RDBN In 2016, the need for a regional coordinator to provide information and support services for the industry was identified.
The regional agriculture coordinator will help the farming industry by connecting producers with funding opportunities, identifying challenges, advocating on behalf of the agriculture community and providing information within the region. They will provide capacity to assist with implementation of regional agriculture initiatives that help address the needs of the local agriculture community. They will even be a key resource during flood or fire related emergencies to ensure livestock are safely relocated.
Recruitment for a suitable candidate for the position is currently underway with the coordinator set to begin in October. Further details about the position are available here: www.rdbn.bc.ca