History’s oldest industry is alive and well in the East Kootenay
The Kootenay Livestock Association held their Annual General Meeting on Saturday February 9th at the Heritage Inn in Cranbrook. This years venue was a great location as meetings were held downstairs through the afternoon and followed by the banquet afterwards upstairs.
The day began with coffee, cookies and some follow up with fellow ranchers and introductions to some new faces. It is great to see that other young folks are taking over their parents ventures in Agriculture and Livestock when faced with harsher times to be in the Industry.
President Jordy Thibeault brought the meeting to order with a updated presidents message. He thanked many members in attendance for their hard work and efforts as well as spoke on some of the issues facing the ranchers in the upcoming years. He also thanked the committee for allowing him to preside over the association for the past 4 years and wished the best to the new president coming in.
Committee Reports were given and special guest Kevin Boone, General Manager of the BC Cattlemen’s Association spoke on what services the BCCA has to offer to BC ranchers and various upcoming changes to structure within the association. He reminded us that ranchers have been caring for the environment through water, grass & trees from day one. The rancher maintains and continues to enhance these resources as they are important to them. Kevin spoke on the primary goals of BCCA, one being they represent the producer through various government, associations and councils. He spoke of BC Beef day when government meets with the association to learn more about the beef industry. The new “society act” will definitely unite the province in a balanced way to contribute to the BCCA’s continual growth and board of directors. Kevin spoke of the new structure and how it will give all areas of the province communication and save the Association money. There will be 7 zones with 12 directors and 5 committees (Environment, Land stewardships, Livestock Protection, Research & Public Affairs).
Our next speaker was Brian Zak from the Grassland & Rangeland Enhancement Program. Brian spoke on the various issues the Program has faced throughout the term and recommending working with the EKICP to map out invasive plants on ranges that KLA members hold and possibly develop rancher spraying workshops.
Noxious weeds are continually a problem for range and farm use. They choke out the life of any other plants within their vicinity and continue to be a thorn in a ranchers side. Much spraying has been done but the weeds are still cropping up and permanent removal of these invasive species is needed. Brian said: “We need to continue to protect and enhance grasslands and range areas within the Kootenay region.”
MLA Bill Bennett spoke with great passion and desire to help the local ranchers with various issues they are facing and gave a summary on the carbon tax, PST exemption in relations to agriculture, the ALR and BC Hydro rates have increased for Irrigation. He also spoke of the importance of voting in the upcoming election as the percentage of voters has been declining. Bill has definitely been a large advocate within government to take the various issues of the East Kootenay ranchers to Victoria. We thank you for that hard work and wish you the very best in the upcoming election.
The business side of the day rounded up with elections and draws for various prizes that were donated. Congratulations to Randy Reay on his upcoming term as President, to new directors and to those that are still holding their positions to help with the association.
Ranchers alike were upstairs for the banquet and it was great to see a full house. Cocktails followed by grace given by Morgan Dilts and a superb supper put on by the Heritage Inn. Jordy gave a short speech before he exited his position of president and welcomed Randy Reay to the new position. A brief welcome from Bill Bennett and then the prestigious award of “Rancher of the Year” was awarded to Jordy Thibeault. The award was presented by Faye Street and most certainly Jordy was not expecting to be awarded this award. Faye said that Jordy’s hard work and his devotion above and beyond for the Livestock Association throughout the past years was well deserved. She said that Jordy’s commitment, with help from his wife Leanne was greatly appreciated and that his “shoes are going to be hard to fill.” Jordy was very thankful for the award and mentioned how honoured he was to have his name beside other fine ranchers within the area. Another award given was lifetime membership to Mike Malmberg. Mike’s commitment to various committees, the association and ranching community has been profound and he received this honour with great appreciation. Thank you Mike for all you do and your commitment to the betterment of our industry.
Mary Schatschneider then entertained us with her classic comedy and interesting perception of her farming and ranching ventures throughout her childhood. Mary you are a true talent and everyone thoroughly enjoyed your renditions. Dancing followed with the Steel Wheel band and silent auction and raffles were drawn to a close.
Thanks to the young men who sold the raffle tickets, great job Steve & Gibson!
This event was definitely a family social and it brought back many memories of years gone by with 3-4 generation ranchers and their families, traditional stories being told and kids running throughout. As evening set in the youngest could be found curled up on coats in the corner and young and old danced to good ol’ country tunes. Most certainly the positive benefit to our ranching community.
Ranching & Farming is a true inspirational vocation and for those of us that have grown up with the pleasure of living on farms have learned many lessons in life. Kids nowadays have technology to entertain them and don’t get the gifts of seeing a new born calf being born or watching a field grow from the early stages of seeding to harvest. They don’t get to learn the true values of hard work with very little compensation than knowing you are contributing to an industry that has long been passed on. Agriculture is what we eat. Even for those that choose to eat vegetables as their only pallet it is still a part of Farming and ranching. We need to continue to preserve this industry and allow it to continue to grow. Last time I checked a ‘hard drive’ was a trip through the range and ‘rams’ were male sheep, ‘safe mode’ was referring to when the bull wasn’t in the corral and ‘virtual reality’ was every fall when we sold the cattle (depending on the market).
Ranching in the East Kootenay is still going strong even with the various challenges that continually hit the industry. Dam reviews, cattle losses, fencing, range lands, meat inspection, wildlife, weeds, ALR mandates, funding, animal welfare, plus much more face this industry but remember folks, without them we will truly be at a loss for they are the driving force behind the food we eat and rely on daily.