August 21, 2017
Burns Lake, B.C. – Monday, August 21, 2017 – For immediate release
Thanks to a partnership between Northern Development Initiative Trust and the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN), a new Regional Agriculture Coordinator will soon be in place to provide much needed capacity to farmers in the Bulkley-Nechako region.
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.
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
Evan Saugstad, Chair, Northern Development Initiative Trust
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. 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.
Bill Miller, Chair, Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako
The RDBN is very excited to be introducing an Agriculture Coordinator staff position to support a growing agriculture community in the region. Through the appointed Agriculture Committee, adopted Regional Agriculture Plan and marketing initiatives, the RDBN Board has a strong history of supporting agriculture endeavors in the region. We are committed to addressing concerns and providing support to the sector.
Mark Parker, Agriculture Committee Chair, Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako
Agriculture has been and continues to be integral to the region’s economy and culture. We are pleased to be providing this new position and are excited about the opportunity for more support to our producers, organizations and families working in Agriculture.
Northern Development Initiative Trust combines funding with smart thinking to help Northern British Columbia thrive. The Trust was created for the north and is led by the north. Since 2005, Northern Development has found more than 2,700 ways to say “yes” to economic diversification in our region, attracting more than $1.3 billion in new investment to the region.
Located in the heart of British Columbia and home to 8 unique municipalities, 7 electoral areas, and 13 First Nations, the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako boasts extraordinary natural beauty, vibrant small town culture and exciting business opportunities. Quality of life is highly valued; the natural amenities of the region and family values are an integral part of life in the RDBN. The region offers world class fishing, hiking, mountain biking, skiing, snowmobiling and camping near the many lakes and within the endless outdoors. Culture and history are important in the RDBN, where a strong agricultural heritage and natural resource economy from forestry and mining are the foundations of its welcoming, family friendly communities.
Chair Agriculture Committee
Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako
Melany A. de Weerdt
Chief Administrative Officer
Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako