For more than 120 years, farmers’ institutes have been a gathering place for farmers to share ideas and stories about agriculture in communities throughout British Columbia.
At the second annual BC Farmers’ Institutes meeting in Richmond, Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture, recognized the dedicated volunteers who provide leadership and support for agriculture in their local communities.
“I am so excited to once again bring everyone together and celebrate the relationship we are building between farmers’ institutes and the Ministry of Agriculture,” Popham said. “We recognize the value of BC Farmers’ Institutes, and that is why we’ve provided $80,000 in support since forming government, three times more than the last government.”
Over the past two years, the Province has supported BC Farmers’ Institutes, and the small scale rural and urban producers they represent, to:
- host day-long planning and networking sessions in 2018 and 2019;
- launch a new website to connect farmers’ institutes from around the province and provide information about agriculture events and workshops; and
- support farmers’ institutes and their members by offering programs that help market products locally, hosting specialist-led workshops and working to attract new entrants and new members into farming.
These investments are in direct response to requests for support from BC Farmers’ Institutes to develop a provincial farmers’ institute network. Approximately two dozen representatives are taking part in day-long discussions in Richmond focused on common interests, challenges and opportunities for B.C. farmers and ranchers.
“The superintendent of farmers’ institutes has been a great resource to help us understand the process as we develop a new farmers' institute for Langley,” said Ava Reeve, Langley Farmers’ Institute. “It’s really a fairly easy process, which is encouraging for any other communities considering starting or reviving their own. We’re grateful for this chance to meet and learn from farmers’ institutes across B.C. and engage directly with ministry staff and representatives, especially since institutes that connect with each other seem to have a better chance of weathering change.
“As I see it, the value of farmers’ institutes is in three things — the localization of their scope, the diversity of their members and the connection with the ministry. I think the renewed engagement between the Ministry of Agriculture and B.C.’s farmers’ institutes is bringing new hope for collaboration between farmers and government.”
Since the first farmers’ institute was established in the Alberni Valley in 1898, B.C. now has approximately 40 farmers’ institutes representing their local agricultural communities at the municipal, provincial and federal levels.
- The B.C. government provides new entrant farmers with business, financial and production planning and skill development opportunities to support their success.
- The Ministry of Agriculture has an agrologist dedicated to working with young and new farmer groups and educational institutions to promote farming as a business opportunity.
- Ministry regional agrologists located in Duncan, Kamloops, Kelowna, Williams Lake, Dawson Creek and Smithers also provide support to new entrants to help strengthen farming throughout B.C.
BC Farmers’ Institutes: https://bcfarmersinstitutes.ca/
Programs and services for new farmers: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/agriculture-seafood/business-market-development/agrifood-business-management/starting-a-new-farm
AgriServiceBC connects people interested in agriculture with a qualified ministry expert for one-on-one help to access the right funding programs, solve technical productions problems, grow business or research opportunities: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/agriservice-bc/agriservice-connect