There are a lot of chances for producers in the Cariboo to learn, connect and receive support and even financial help.
The Ministry of Agriculture is funding several workshops in the next month or so, and the first one is designed to help producers avoid negative financial situations.
The workshop Top 10 Farm Financial Mistakes and How to Avoid Them will be held Saturday, Jan. 26 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Quesnel and District Seniors Centre. The event is free, and lunch is provided. Email Marisa.Nightingale@gov.bc.ca to register.
“I think it’s a really good opportunity for people who are considering getting into agriculture, new into agriculture or already in agriculture,” says regional agrologist Nicole Pressey, who works out of the Ministry of Agriculture’s Williams Lake office. “One of the topics is what to consider when you’re expanding … so it’s not just for new entrants.”
Pressey says one of the ministry’s farm business recovery specialists will be at the workshop to talk about the Agri Business Recovery Program to help producers identify a plan to help rebuild from the negative impacts of wildfires and floods. Pressey says the program has been extended from 2017 after the devastating wildfires, and eligible applicants can access up to a $5,000 grant from the ministry.
The Ministry of Agriculture is partnering with the BC Agriculture and Food Climate Action Initiative to present a Farm and Ranch Wildfire Preparedness Workshop Jan. 31 at the Quesnel Fire Hall. The workshop runs from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and is free. Anyone interested can register by Jan. 29 at bcwildfirepreparedness.eventbrite.com.
Coming up on Feb. 2, the Kersley Farmer’s Institute is hosting its Winter Workshop from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the College of New Caledonia Quesnel Campus. It costs $25 to register, and a textbook on soils is included. The workshop will feature informative speakers and a producer panel on alternate grazing.
There will be an AgriStability Webinar for Accountants and Tax Filers Feb. 7 from 10 a.m. to noon, and anyone interested can register at attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/3616527235827999501.
The Ministry of Agriculture is also funding the first-ever Young Agrarians Winter Mixer Feb. 9 and 10 at Thompson Rivers University Campus in Williams Lake. Pressey says the Young Agrarians have typically been based in the Lower Mainland, but the ministry has supported them to expand north, and they will be hosting a two-day workshop full of learning and networking opportunities, including land-linking.
A two-day food processing workshop will also be held in Williams Lake in March.
Pressey is one of eight employees serving local producers and food processors in the Cariboo who are based out of the Ministry of Agriculture’s Williams Lake office. The employees include meat inspectors, resource development agrologist, a regional agrologist, a livestock team lead, a youth development assistant, a program representative for production insurance, and an Indigenous agriculture extension officer.
These employees can help connect producers to the resources and support they need, and Pressey says there are many helpful tools, such as workbooks, and programs.
Programs and resources
One focus for the Ministry of Agriculture is supporting new farmers, and Pressey says they offer many resources, such as the New Farm Start Up workbook, Growing Your Farm workbook and The Guide for Agriculture Lease Agreements in B.C. guidebook, which are available online and as limited printed resources through the Williams Lake office.
“They are a good starting point before people make too much of an investment of money and time,” says Pressey. “The workbooks help people focus and come up with a plan.”
The ministry has a new entrant agrologist who is a provincial resource and works with specialists and provincial staff, according to Pressey.
“Generally, if people call them, they’ll help them as much as possible and then direct them to regional resources,” she says.
The ministry also offers business bootcamps and succession planning workshops for new entrants and exiting producers to help people who want to get into or out of farming.
“We will try to link people to other advisors to assist with succession planning,” says Pressey.
Pressey says these events are often presented across the province, and the ministry often partners with new farmer groups such as Young Agrarians and B.C. Young Farmers.
Pressey says new entrants can also take advantage of their Taking Stock farm business planning workbook, and there are many opportunities to connect with like-minded people with experience, such as networking opportunities and introductions to associations and industry groups.
“They have so much on their plate, and we try to connect them with industry groups to give them knowledge that will help them,” says Pressey. “We want to help people find a path to success.”
Some of the other programs that can benefit local producers include the BC Agri-Business Planning Program and BC Indigenous Agriculture Development Program. There is also the 2017 and 2018 AgriRecovery Program, which includes the Incremental Grazing Loss Schedule, still active for eligible Crown Range tenures that were impacted by the 2017 wildfires.
The Environmental Farm Plan and Beneficial Management Practices, AgriStability, Production Insurance, Traceability Value Chain program and Traceability Adoption, which includes a Livestock Tag Reader Rebate sub-program, are also available to area producers.
Connecting the dots
There is a lot out there, and that’s where the regional staff can step in to help point producers and food processors in the right direction and connect them to the programs and resources that will be most helpful.
Producers can contact resource development agrologist Marisa Nightingale at Marisa.Nightingale@gov.bc.ca or 250-398-4502 for the North Cariboo and east, Horsefly and Likely; resource development agrologist Katie Galliazzo at Katie.Galliazzo@gov.bc.ca or 250-398-4504 for the South Cariboo and Chilcotin. These are new positions, and the agrologists began working here in the fall. Nightingale lives in Quesnel and does some of her work out of Quesnel.
Producers can also get information through AgriServiceBC, which is accessible at 1-888-221-7141 or AgriServiceBC@gov.bc.ca, and Pressey says they can find many tools on the Ministry of Agriculture website.