Originally Published by Rossland News on Thursday June 8th, 2017.
In early May, Statistics Canada released the 2016 Census of Agriculture, and Hans Schreier a professor in the Faculty of Land and Food Systems at the University of British Columbia prepared summary reports for the different regions throughout the province.
Schreier’s summary of the Kootenay region demonstrates that 104,719 hectares (ha) of farm land were in use during 2016, with more than 1150 farms in operation. This represents approximately 4.7 per cent of agricultural land and 8 per cent of all farms in BC.
Looking at livestock populations in 2016, the Kootenay region was home to 30,820 cattle and 29,753 chickens. The trend we are seeing is a consistent decline in the number of farms throughout the region, in almost all types of farming operations, including cattle (-38 per cent) and chickens (-22 per cent).
All three regions of the Kootenays (East, West, and Boundary) are experiencing this significant decline in all types of livestock.
Currently, livestock is distributed with the majority of cattle residing in East Kootenay where the pasture and alfalfa production is dominate, and the majority of chickens residing in Central Kootenay, followed by Kootenay-Boundary.
Despite this trend of declining livestock and farming operations here in the Kootenays, demand for locally produced meat products appears to be on the rise.
Goat River Farms is located in Creston and is owned and operated by Dale and Wendy McNamar. Goat River Farms is also home to Kootenay Natural Meats, which is celebrating its 10th year servicing the community of Rossland with nutritious and ethically produced meat products.
Over the past 10 years, Wendy has been a full-time vendor at the Rossland Mountain Market, and she also treks over Kootenay Pass to make monthly deliveries during the off-season. The dedication Kootenay Natural Meats demonstrates for the community of Rossland is due in part to the large number of relationships they have developed with committed customers.
“We have more than 30 families on our ever-growing pre-order list, and countless regular market shoppers who are fierce about attending the market each and every week for our meats,” says Wendy. “Being the face of our business at the markets, I know these people by name; I’ve learned about them and their families; and I’ve built, hopefully, life-long friendships through my years serving Rossland. What’s great about this community is the upbeat attitude of residents that doesn’t exist elsewhere in the Kootenays, and the fact that I know I will always get honest feedback from my shoppers here.”
Purchasing meat produced right here in the Kootenay’s on smaller, local-scale farms will help ensure that you’re choosing the healthiest meat option, and supporting a more ecological way of raising animals for commercial meat production.
You’re voting with your dollar to support ethical animal husbandry, at the same time as investing directly into your local economy.
“By supporting our business, and local meat production in general, you are contributing to a more viable opportunity for us and our fellow Kootenay farmers. You are helping to make this career option more attainable for new farmers, and you’re contributing greatly to stronger food security for the Kootenay region,” adds Wendy.
The more we opt for locally produced meat products, the greater the opportunity our Kootenay-based farmers will have to build successful and profitable farming businesses, which means healthier communities, a healthier economy, good jobs and empowering opportunities for our Kootenay residents.
Congratulations to Dale and Wendy McNamar for their decade of success in serving Rossland.
You can find Wendy every Thursday throughout the summer at the Rossland Mountain Market, downtown on Queen Street.
To learn more about the 2016 Census of Agriculture, visit http://www.statcan.gc.ca/eng/ca2016.
Written By: Miche Warwick, Eat Grow Flourish | Kootenay Food Communications Liaison
Image Credit: Wendy McNamar, Kootenay Natural Meats