Sunday, April 1, 2012

Latest Friday AM article

        More Rules = Less Farmers = Less Food Choices

               Most farmers and ranchers will have done something on their land with management practices over the last few years to protect the environment and wildlife. Some of them will have completed and acted on an official Farm Environmental Plan, and possibly completed a Biodiversity plan to manage for wildlife. Others will have worked towards and obtained Organic Certification, and a small few will have been Certified Salmon Safe. I have completed all of the above over the last 4 years and was feeling rather smug.
              Then over the email a few short days ago I received a copy of the Ministry of Environments proposed new revised Waste Control Regulation. This Draconian sledge hammer will put Livestock Agriculture firmly in the hands of large well heeled agribusiness ensuring all critters will spend their entire lives on concrete in covered sheds in extremely large numbers and concentrations due to the economies of scale. Now don’t you veggie, fruit and berry farmers think you are off the hook, any composting of vegetable materials falls under the same rules.
           My own farm has a Salmon bearing river running through the middle and two public roads on the sides, this leaves me about 10 acres in the middle to store and make compost. But first of all in has to be sealed so no run off escapes, then a roof to keep out the rain, oh and also fenced to keep out birds! $100,000 later I will be able to do what I was safely doing before, making compost from 50 ewes and a hand full of goats! I do not have enough manure each year to properly fertilize my land as it is, so I am hardly a threat to the environment, especially after all the Certification requirements I have met so far. The practice of winter feeding on hay fields and pasture to build fertility, (encouraged by Ag departments across the country when done properly) will be stopped after two weeks as it is then classed as Manure Storage according to the small print. Even on open range with no fences it will be viewed as the same. The true catch all in this is that a high-risk area includes any area with an unconfirmed aquifer. Well golly gee, that could be any where in the province, and as few aquifers have been mapped in the BC it’s a case of guilty until you prove your innocence with your money. This appears to be another form of legislation to get rid of the small and medium farms. This is a great way to get rid of your competition in the local food market when you have the financial means to meet the rules and they don’t. Better yet when the government does it at taxpayers expense and you are left squeaky clean and blameless.
             Who gains from all this you ask? Well no doubt a few salmon, though if we quit over fishing them for a while (and ate lamb)we would see far better improvements in their numbers. The big gainers here are the MOE employees, guaranteed job security more funding and work till the pension kicks in. The loser’s beside the farmers who cannot meet the new requirements’ will be you, the consumers. With less people in production, higher prices and less choice will be the result in the food aisle. Finally, soil fertility will take a hit with lower livestock numbers across the province. See the following link for more info www.
          I thought I would give you all a break for the last couple of months plus it gave me time to plan and organize the Homestead’s busy spring lineup. April sees two workshops, one on sheep and goat production and the other on small flock chicken care. The chicken one is ideal even for you folks in town as it covers back yard production, eggs, chicken and that valuable soon to be outlawed manure for your veggies. The other big thing is our Knee Deep in Spring event, on 21st April with special guests appearing for the day. I hope you are as excited about warmer weather and spring as we are. I know it was a mild winter, but hey, they are always too long, especially as you get older!!
Rob Fensom farms at Harmonious Homestead and ewe in Salmon Arm BC. and can be reached at
 Correct use of compost the old fashioned way, soon to be outlawed as it should be stored in bird proof covered yard, and the bounties of its proper use.