Sasaki appointed new head of chicken board Ag Briefs

The BC Chicken Marketing Board has a new chair.


on BCCMB’s most recent pricing formula later this spring. The formula was appealed by both the BC Chicken Growers Association and the Primary Poultry Processors of BC and was the subject of more

In late December, the

government rescinded Robin Smith’s appointment a few months before his term was set to expire and replaced him with Harvey Sasaki. A former assistant deputy minister of agriculture, Sasaki is no stranger to the poultry industry. He has spent the past few years as a consultant for the BC Poultry Association, developing the proposed avian influenza insurance program. That program remains a work in progress. As the new chair, Sasaki’s

first order of business will be to implement whatever pricing scheme the BC Farm Industry Review Board decides is appropriate. FIRB is expected to release its ruling

than five days of hearings last fall.

—David Schmidt Ottawa invests

in dairy sector Ottawa has met criticism of

its betrayal of supply management in recent trade deals with fresh investment in the dairy sector. In early December, Ottawa announced the second phase of its Dairy Farm Investment Program, originally announced in August 2017. The program provides $250 million over five years to help the dairy sector adapt to anticipated impacts from the Canada-EU Comprehensive

Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). Of 11,000 dairy farms in

Canada, over 2,500 applied in the first phase. Approximately $129.2 million was invested in more than 1,900 projects, including automatic feeding systems, robotic milking systems and herd

management equipment. These include 169 projects in BC, which received $12.1 million.

The second and last phase will see $120.8 million given to more than 1,000 projects nationwide. They’re eligible to receive up to $100,000 each (funding in the first phase averaged $68,000 per project). The deadline for applications is February 9, 2019. Additional funding aimed at mitigating the impacts of CUSMA and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) is also in the works. Details of those compensation packages are still being worked out.

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have opened close to 20% of Canada’s dairy market to imported product. —Peter Mitham

Piece rates,

taxes increase Just weeks into the new

year, BC farmers may be starting to feel the pinch. One thing’s for certain: their pennies won’t. Various government policies designed to part farmers and their money have kicked in, raising the cost of doing business in BC. Piece rates increased on

January 1, six months after an increase to the hourly minimum wage. The delay was the result of a recommendation by the BC Fair Wages Commission, which didn’t want to inconvenience farmers mid- season. A further increase on June 1, 2019 will coincide with the next increase in the

province’s minimum wage, and aims to ensure all workers in the province receive the same wage regardless of employment. Phasing out piece rates

could follow a report that Karen Taylor, an adjunct professor in food and resource economics at UBC and an agriculture relationship manager with TD Bank in Langley, was asked to submit to the Fair Wage Commission by December 31. The new Employer Health

Tax also kicked in this month. It is a payroll tax introduced as part of phasing out of Medical Services Plan premiums, which will occur January 1, 2020. It shifts the burden of medical premiums from individuals to businesses, and will garner $1.9 billion provincewide this year.

The effects could chill

investment in BC’s farm sector, says Reg Ens, executive director of the BC Agriculture Council. —Peter Mitham

AITC focuses

on growth Growth at the BC

Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation last year has led to hiring of a program operations manager. The competition closed December 14 and and the successful candidate will help AITC put “more feet on the ground,” according to executive director Pat Tonn. No one had been hired to fill the position at press time. “We have more

opportunities for growth outside the Lower Mainland area, so we’re looking at a new ambassador program for teachers,” she says. “We need someone to manage that growth with us.”

The new manager will have to multitask, assisting the existing team fill in gaps while also helping AITC expand.

BC farmers contribute in-

kind funding for programs such as Spuds in Tubs, Take a Bite of BC and the Harvest Bin Project. The support represented $153,127 of AITC’s $673,012 funding last year. “[Take a Bite of BC]

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products are provided complimentary from farmers and then we do the teaching that connects it to the farmers and gratitude for farmers and appreciation of where food comes from and how it’s grown,” says Tonn. “When kids eat the products, try the products, … that helps to tell the story.”

—Ronda Payne

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