Agcitement Around Kamloops Ag Plan

In 2010, when the City of Kamloops adopted their Sustainable Kamloops Plan, one of the top priorities for the community was agriculture.

The people wanted a better understanding of where agricultural land was in their community, how it should be used or enhanced, and what opportunities were available for increased food production and processing. After two years of extensive consultation, the final version of the Kamloops agriculture area plan is expected to be adopted in early 2014.

“We were starting from nothing. Kamloops hasn’t had a plan or dedicated process to look at the agriculture sector,” says Maren Luciani, planner for the City of Kamloops. “We acknowledge that over the past 20 to 30 years there has not been a great municipal process to support agriculture.”

The plan identifies 72 action items categorized into six over-arching strategies. One of the top priorities has been to bring city bylaws and policies into alignment with those of the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) on issues like agri-tourism, which the ALC allows, but the city has not.

They will also be doing more work on agricultural awareness and education for the public, recruiting new farmers to support succession planning, and developing an agricultural edge strategy to reduce urban/rural conflict.

No dust will gather on this plan. Before it was officially adopted work had begun on the next step.

“A step further to supporting the agriculture industry is to develop a targeted community-wide food strategy,” says Luciani. “Through the consultation we learned there was a real desire to do that, and the process is starting already.”

Funding: $25,000 through the former federal-provincial Safety Nets framework. (B0016.23)

To Make it to Market

Agriculture is a growing industry. In 2012, British Columbia’s agriculture, food and seafood sectors generated $11.7 billion in combined gross revenues, with $2.5 billion worth of products exported to over 130 countries.

Maintaining this momentum requires continued effort and investment from concept and commercialization, to cultivating new markets.

The Investment Agriculture Foundation is proud to deliver the Canada-BC Agri-Innovation Program and the BC Agrifoods Export Program through Growing Forward 2 – a federal, provincial framework to help the industry seize future opportunities and realize its full potential as a major driver of the Canadian economy.

“Having this money available to support late-stage research and development, and commercialization helps keep the BC agrifoods sector vital and competitive,” says Ken Bates, chair of the Investment Agriculture Foundation. “The new export development program funding will help complete the cycle of market development.”

The BC Agrifoods Export Program is open to BC-based agrifood producers, processors, associations or marketers that market a BC grown or processed product. It provides up to $50,000 in matching funds to enable industry engagement in international market development activities, including participation in international tradeshows, promotional events and incoming/outgoing missions, and creating marketing materials to support international market development.

Funding for the BC Agrifoods Export Program is available on a first-come, first-serve basis until funds have been fully allocated. Participants must contribute 50% in cash of the total project cost. The $4.3 million program will run from 2013-2018, with $600,000 in funding available in 2013-2014.

There are many steps that come before getting products to market, and the Agri-Innovation program is helping address those needs and opportunities. The program provides matching funds to support industry, academia, retailers and others in late stage research and pilot projects that lead to the commercialization and/or adoption of innovative products, technologies and practices in five priority areas:

  • Advancements in plant, animal and food science
  • Energy and waste management
  • New product development and commercialization
  • Improvements in soil, water and air quality
  • Climate change adaptation

Between August and October 2013, IAF has approved and committed over $1.8 million in funding to 17 projects under the Canada-BC Agri-Innovation Program.

The Agri-Innovation program was first introduced under the previous Growing Forward agreement, and has been renewed to continue supporting innovation projects that benefit individual enterprises and positively impact the profitability and competitiveness of the BC agriculture and agri-foods sector as a whole.

For Vitalus Nutrition Inc., Agri-Innovation funding was one of the deciding factors that allowed them to move forward with a pilot project to develop lactose-free milk protein concentrates.

“Vitalus obtained knowledge on the available technologies for developing lactose-free milk protein concentrates,” says Pamela Ambriz, new product development manager for Vitalus. “Focusing on one product line – a concentrate with a protein level of 85 per cent (MPC 85) – we identified the best technology for our operation that would allow us to commercialize production of the product.”

Applications for the Agri-Innovation Program are accepted on an on-going basis. All projects (including reporting requirements) must be completed by January 31, 2015.

For more information about Growing Forward 2 programs being delivered by the Investment Agriculture Foundation, visit www.iafbc.ca.

Funding: $600,000 through the federal-provincial BC Agrifoods Export Program. $3,000,000 through the Canada-BC Agri-Innovation Program under Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.

Cariboo Ranchers Return to Schools

BC farmers are always striving to maintain a competitive edge and increase their profitability. Take a group of Cariboo ranchers determined to produce high quality, environmentally sustainable, grass-fed beef for the BC market.

This means paying close attention to costs, continuously advancing the management of their resources to improve ecosystem health, and producing quality finished carcasses.

Cariboo rancher David Zirnhelt says the Cariboo Cattlemen’s Association wanted to help its members produce a superior product at a reasonable price.

“Increasing our knowledge of practices for finishing cattle on forage was important to us,” says Zirnhelt.

Building on a 2011 analysis of market demand and logistics for Cariboo-raised, grass-fed beef, the association worked with Thompson Rivers University to launch a producer field school series to develop producer capacity in three main areas.

First up was controlling costs. A two-day session provided an overview of the grass-fed beef program operating in Manitoba, including a full day focused on their enterprise costing model.

“Manitoba’s grass-fed program taught us to build a business model that works for the kinds of forage we have here,” notes Zirnhelt, who is also the project’s administrator. “It opened our eyes to the economic advantages of finishing at 24-plus months rather than trying to get sufficiently high grades on yearlings.”

Next, they looked at managing water, soil and forage resources for improving beef quality, as well as profitability and environmental stewardship. Four ranch visits allowed participants to discuss the resources characteristic of each ranch, and consider recommendations on how best to improve soil and forage health and optimize profitability.

The Cariboo cattle region is very diverse. “Walking dryland, wetland and in-between pastures with our peers and the experts helped us build our knowledge and improve our practices,” Zirnhelt adds.

The series wrapped up with a session on optimizing carcass quality. The group reviewed several live animals that had just come off grass, with the emphasis on what to look for. This helped reinforce the message not to harvest too early.

By coming together to learn and share their experiences, the Cariboo’s grass-fed producers also increased their confidence in their abilities to meet the challenges ahead.

Funding: $29,750 through the Canada-BC Ranching Task Force Funding Initiative. (RTF012)

The Growth of Green Roofs in BC

Reducing cooling costs, mitigating storm water run-off and absorbing carbon are just some reasons why more businesses are setting up green roofs.

With local governments such as the District of Maple Ridge and the City of Port Coquitlam adopting policies to encourage them, green roofs in BC are about to grow more rapidly than ever before.

“BC has the potential to be a leader in green roof design and construction,” states Michelle Nakano, former Chair of the Landscape Design and Installation Program at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. “But to do so, we need to develop systems that perform well in our unique climate, maximizing the economic and social benefits.”

On a 1,400 m2 elevated research platform at BC Institute of Technology’s (BCIT) Centre for Architectural Ecology in Burnaby, researchers analyzed optimal establishment and maintenance techniques, options for shallow-depth systems and the impacts on noise absorption by experimenting with various plant species, propagations, and substrate depths.

Plants behave differently on green roofs because they are grown at higher elevations in mineral mediums (soil is too heavy).  Researchers compared plant cuttings, plugs and pots to determine the optimal propagation type for green roofs in BC. Plant plugs had the best overall coverage with minimal drying out and weed susceptibility.

The ability to successfully implement cost effective shallow-depth systems is critical to further growth of the industry in BC. By experimenting with different plant mixtures at different depths, a selection of BC coastal plants had the most promise, providing adequate coverage at depths as low as 75mm.

Lastly, researchers measured frequency-dependent sound absorption data for various plant species and substrate depths, providing data for further research on the effects on noise pollution.

“Green roofs are a new emerging aspect of our industry, with significantly different growing conditions than the average garden,” states Tim Loewen, Chair of the BC Landscape and Nursery Association.  “This new research has provided key information about optimal establishment techniques as well as how green roofs add another environmental benefit by muffling noise pollution in cities.”

Funding: $108,172 through the federal Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program. (A0602)