- Farms and ranches occupy over 823,000 hectares of land in the Northeast Region, more than 33% of B.C.'s Agriculture Land Reserve.
- The agricultural sector in the Northeast Region generates $144 million in total gross farm receipts.
- Between 80% and 85% of B.C.'s grain and 95% of its canola are produced in the Northeast Region.
- This region has the second-largest amount of Crown range in B.C. (105,000 AUMs).
- Grazing on Crown land is authorized under the Range Act and access is allocated through animal unit months (AUMs). An AUM is the amount of forage needed by an "animal unit" grazing for one month.
- B.C.'s beef industry is important to the province's economy and supports many family and community businesses. A B.C. Cattlemen's Association study reported that the total economic contribution of the industry is estimated at $500 million annually, with an estimated 8,700 persons employed in B.C.'s beef sector.
Water Use in Agriculture and Range
- Water is used for irrigation, crop protection, crop production, stock watering and ponds.
- Approximately six per cent of licensed surface water allocated for consumption in the Northeast is used by the agriculture and range sector.
- The agriculture sector is allocated 3.6 million cubic metres of water per year. The bulk of this amount is surface water for livestock.
Water Stewardship Strategies
- Livestock managers are encouraged to meet all water quality guidelines and regulations under the Drinking Water Protection Act.
- The agricultural sector is not currently required to report water use. However, the Water Sustainability Act will make monitoring and reporting mandatory for all heavy users of water.
- The Province is working with the agriculture sector to establish an Agricultural Water Reserve.
- The Ministry of Agriculture funds and supports best management practices, through Environmental Farm Plans. Best management practices for grazing include:
- Creating separate riparian pastures to control the time and duration of use.
- Creating off-stream watering sources to discourage direct access to water resources.
- Restricting grazing during times of peak water flow or when soils are saturated.
- Restricting access to damaged riparian areas to give shrubs and forage plants time to recover.
- Range agreement holders must establish a Range Stewardship Plan that meets the following objectives:
- Maintain or improve water resources.
- Maintain or promote healthy riparian and upland areas.
- Maintain or promote riparian vegetation that will provide sufficient shade to keep stream temperatures within the natural range of variability.
- Maintain or promote desired riparian plant communities.
Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations