A new regional agriculture coordinator will soon be in place to provide much-needed capacity to farmers in the region.
This is due to a partnership between Northern Development Initiative Trust and the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN).
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.
The new position will also be a key resource during flood or fire related emergencies to ensure livestock are safely relocated.
“The RDBN is very excited to be introducing an agriculture coordinator staff position to support a growing agriculture community in the region,” said Bill Miller, RDBN chair. “We are committed to addressing concerns and providing support to the sector.”
The RDBN currently 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.
According to the RDBN, small-scale producers and new farmers continue to express a desire for information about the services and supports that are available to them. The need for a regional coordinator was identified during an agriculture forum hosted by the RDBN in 2016.
“The RDBN board has a strong history of supporting agriculture endeavors in the region,” said Miller, mentioning the RDBN’s agriculture committee, marketing initiatives and a regional agriculture plan, which was put in place in 2012 to strengthen the agriculture sector in the region.
Evan Saugstad, Chair of the Northern Development Initiative Trust, added that supporting the agriculture industry highlights the region’s growing diversified economy.
“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,” she said.
Northern Development has approved $131,666 in funding to support the pilot project, which will support the coordinator’s position over a two-year term, as well as ongoing pine beetle recovery initiatives. The RDBN is contributing an additional $65,000.
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 at rdbn.bc.ca.