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INDUSTRIAL UPDATE: Ranchers facing labour shortages, rising costs

‘Feed shortage has been a huge problem this year for cattle producers all across Canada’: Jordan Grier
Cattle enjoy the scenic ranch life at Chilco Ranch. (Photo submitted)

While input costs have skyrocketed the price of cattle has not kept up with inflation, said the Cariboo Cattlemen’s Association president Jordan Grier.

“The feed shortage has been a huge problem this year for cattle producers all across Canada.”

He attributed the cause to major drought in the prairies.

“People are selling off their herds. They just can’t go on anymore. The price of wages and everything else, and keeping people happy, it’s a tough industry to make a go of it.”

That is the frustrating part, he added.

“It’s probably the most important industry, and it’s not recognized as that.”

Finding labourers is always an issue, but that is the same in other industries, he noted.

Another problem is the generation gap that exists in agriculture right now and it is difficult for younger people to get into ranching and take over ranches.

“It is so expensive to get into it.”

Elected at the virtual AGM in February, he moved up from vice-president. He and Dave Brace, who was president, changed places.

Grier was really looking forward to when the Cattlemen’s hosted an in-person meeting, one of the first since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, on Friday, March 18 at the Williams Lake Stockyards at 7 p.m.

“We have a great group of people, it’s going to be really good. We will be able to sit down in a building together and talk. Dave had a rough go because we couldn’t have any in-person meetings. It makes it hard to have a drive even to want to continue on.”

As he eases into being president, he said it will be important for the association to look back at what has happened and what needs to be done to move forward.

There are still some positions to fill on the association board, which will be dealt with at the meeting.

“I haven’t had to run a meeting before. I got into this pretty quickly. I was never a part of Cattlemen’s. I got invited to an AGM and got voted in to be a director and I couldn’t be because I wasn’t even a member. That was only a few years ago,” he said. “It’s been an interesting trip.”

Born and raised in Merritt, his family has owned the Chilco Ranch at Hanceville for 30 years. He has worked and lived at the ranch for 18 years with his wife Crystal. They have two children - Connor, 9, and Taylor, 7.

Presently there are four generations of family living on the ranch and about five people working it.

They raise mostly Hereford Influence cattle.

Similar to other ranches in the area, the ranch was impacted by the 2017 wildfires and subsequent flooding, Grier said.

“It was pretty bad. Once you get fire you get flooding. It’s part and parcel though — you just have to move forward.”

READ MORE: OUR HOMETOWN: Home on the range

A dramatic Chilcotin sky above a herd of cattle at the Chilco Ranch. (Photo submitted)

Monica Lamb-Yorski

About the Author: Monica Lamb-Yorski

A B.C. gal, I was born in Alert Bay, raised in Nelson, graduated from the University of Winnipeg, and wrote my first-ever article for the Prince Rupert Daily News.
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