Northern Development Initiative Trust has announced that 19 projects totalling nearly $517,000 have been approved to benefit the agriculture industry through the BC Hydro Peace Agricultural Compensation Fund (PACF). Since the launch of the fund, over $1.2 million has been awarded to 53 projects.
This is the fifth intake from the $20 million bi-annual fund, which was established in 2018. Each project must fall into one of three categories: events and educational initiatives, farming infrastructure, or research and demonstration initiatives.
“We are very pleased to see such a significant number of projects approved for this intake totalling over half a million dollars,” said Joel McKay, CEO of Northern Development Initiative Trust. “The trust applauds the diversity and ingenuity shown from the Peace Region farmers and producers as they strive for sustainability and growth.”
Recipients receiving the grants include:
BC Grain Producers Association: $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.
Venator Ranches Ltd. (Hudson’s Hope): $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.
Muddy Creek Livestock Ltd. (Pouce Coupe): $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 (Taylor): $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.
In addition, fifteen other projects were approved for funding through the BC Hydro PACF:
- 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