News & Events
Year End Update
December 30, 2019
I hope this letter finds you all well as we all take a pause to reflect on the past year and plan for the year ahead.
Despite the board having had a slow start this year, we ended the year with a flurry of activity. The slow start can be attributed changing faces in our BC Agriculture contacts which made liaison work a bit tricky. Julie Marie Hughes has replaced Lynette Hare from the Game Farm Office who recently retired. Taylor Jeffery who was assigned temporarily as our BC Ag Livestock liaison will continue working with us and has been instrumental in accommodating our tele-conference board meetings in addition to steering us through some of the industry regulatory requirements.
After a bit of a meeting hiatus, the BCBA held its Conference and AGM in Merritt on October 25- 27, 2019. Eight of the 35 member ranches were represented and the majority of the board was able to attend. There has been a sense of urgency to develop an Emergency Response Plan for our industry as well as for individual farms so the morning session was allotted to review and build on the pre-conference work already produced of Taylor Jeffery and Conrad Schiebel. These documents will be available for membership review and comment in the new year.
Also on the speaker list was Julie Hughes who spoke on the status of the bison industry in the province. She reported the current census as:
Vancouver Island / Coast 2 farms 69 bison
Lower Mainland / Southwest 2 farms 15 bison
Thompson Okanagan 9 farms 526 bison
Kootenay 2 farms 126 bison
Cariboo 10 farms 269 bison
North Coast 0 farms
Nechako 3 farms 87 bison
Peace River 24 farms 7517 bison
Totals 52 farms 8609 bison
Nova Woodbury from the BC Abbatoir Association spoke about the challenges facing her industry and the impact on bison marketing and processing. Dr. John Church from Thompson Rivers University rounded off the program with his research on livestock finishing techniques and using drone technology in ranch management. A ranch tour and barbeque at Pentagle V Ranch concluded the program. Thanks to Isobel and Bernie Vere for acting as host ranch for the conference. We want to thank the CBA and Purity Feeds for sponsoring our conference.
On the political front, the association has added our voice to many other agricultural associations who are actively lobbying to have Bill 52 reviewed as many of the proposed changes to ALR regulations will create hardship for farms and ranches all across the province. We are also still actively pursuing having the Game Farm Regulations reviewed and changed to reflect the industry standards across North America.
You will also want to be aware of some other items that we have been actively working on or that may impact you.
I’d like to welcome Chris Kayat and Tyrol Forfar to the board. They are both new to the bison industry and are keen to contribute and learn.
All the best for 2020!
Turtle Valley Bison Ranch
724 Squilax-Turtle Valley Road,
Chase, BC. V0E 1M1
Update on BC Slaughter Industry (Select Standing Committee on Agriculture, Fish and Food)
Bernie and Isobel Vere along with President Conrad Schiebel attended this Standing Committee consultation on June 13/18 in Kamloops.This committee of MLA’s was traveling the province gathering comments from various meat production entities in an effort to properly assess the current slaughter capabilities in the province. Conrad gave testimony on behalf of the BCBA. A common theme was the lack of close slaughter facilities and the difficulty accessing the ones that are currently operational. Small producers are the worst hit as the larger volume producers seem to be taking precedence. There is definitely a lack of Federal Inspection facilities as well. A big concern was the long haul distances required to move animals to slaughter.Many asked for on farm slaughter to be reconsidered.Comments on the recent release of the report have been less than enthusiastic as a definitive action plan to improve the situation has not be addressed.
Update of Game re-designation for Bison.
The BCBA has been lobbying the BC government for close to 30 years to have bison designated as livestock to match other provinces and states.We had been the only province to have bison referred to as “game” however Quebec has recently changed its designation of bison to become game after having been considered livestock. This occurred in 2018 in response to issues with other exotic species.
The BCBA is of the opinion that designation of bison should be consistent with other jurisdictions and legislation.Language in BC legislation confuses the issue by referring to bison as both game and livestock while Federal legislation refers to bison as livestock.BC Bison produces are subjected to additional fees and mandatory reporting that other livestock producers do not have submit.
In discussions with the BC Government this year, BC Agriculture has agreed to review recent trends in agriculture legislation in order to bring consistency into bison nomenclature while reducing redundant regulations where possible.
At this time, the BCBC has not received any further comments from the BC Government.