In 2009, North Pine Farmers Institute received a $874,000 loan from Northern Development through the Economic Diversification Infrastructure program towards this $924,000 project. This has been a funding partnership of North Pine Farmers Institute and Northern Development
2012 – Approximately one third of BC’s agricultural land is in the Peace River Regional District. The region was in danger of losing all the grain elevators within the area which would have had a crippling effect on the ability of farmers in the region to remain competitive. In response to this challenge, the North Pine Farmers Institute has acquired a rail head and elevator and made extensive improvements and upgrades to the facility on behalf of farmers all over the North Peace region of BC.
The newly upgraded facility provides local access to the existing rail system which allows for greater transportation efficiency. With the acquisition of this infrastructure local farmers can now load their crops onto outbound trains that will take their products to market. The facility is also capable of unloading products coming into the region lowering the price of some commodities for the farmers. This increased efficiency provides increased stability within the Peace River Regional District where agriculture is a way of life for many people.
"In Fort St. John a lot of products are getting transported by truck to Dawson Creek and further from there. Our goal is to keep things local and get it back on the rail system and off the roads."Larry Houley, President, North Pine Farmers Institute
The acquisition of the rail head and elevator by the North Pine Farmers Institute creates new opportunities for the agricultural industry in the Peace River Regional District. With the reduction in transportation costs associated with the adoption of rail as the primary method of transporting products farmers can now afford to reinvest more heavily in their farms and the region.
This reinvestment will in part help with the diversification of the agricultural industry as the ease and reduced costs of transportation will allow the agricultural community in the North Peace region to explore new markets such as bio-fuels. The acquisition of the rail head, the elevator, and the surrounding land also creates opportunity to lease out a portion of the land to other businesses creating additional revenue for the North Pine Farmers Institute.
In a region that is fairly dependent on natural resources having a strong agricultural sector helps to insulate the region against fluctuations in the world economy that traditionally have heavy impacts on one or two resource economies.