Kootenay Livestock AGM — going from weeds to riches

The Cranbrook Violin Club, led by Mr. Lutz, entertained the Kootenay Livestock AGM with various violin arrangements. - Photo submitted
The Cranbrook Violin Club, led by Mr. Lutz, entertained the Kootenay Livestock AGM with various violin arrangements.
— image credit: Photo submitted


Kootenay Livestock held their AGM on Saturday January 18th. Members from throughout the East Kootenay attended. Meeting opened with remarks from the presiding president Randy Reay whom was most thankful to the office staff and volunteers that continue to keep the organization strong. “United we stand divided we fall,” was quoted by Randy to show that the ranching community needs to continue with its efforts and to work on goals that reach the growing demand for beef. Randy stated that KLA has had a good year and thanked Landis, Leanne and Faye for their contributions in the office.

This years committee reports were given: Weed committee has established three areas of focus- outreach and education, innovative ideas, and lobbying efforts. One of the various issues that continues to arise for them is invasive plants on private land and the lack of enforcement. Announcement was made of  the new program Manager for East Kootenay Invasive Plant Council-Todd Larsen, MSc PAg. Welcome Todd.

Wildlife Committee continues to offer fencing programs to ward off the elk and deer as well as compensation for water fowl damage. Ranchers are still in the high numbers for losing their crops to wildlife damage. Although compensation is still at a cost to the rancher for the animals lost, the committee continues to work with government to improve on this. New 3-D fencing has been used by one of our members and the committee will review this undertaking to gauge its benefits.

Land Use Report was happy to announce a Community Pasture proposal, all background work has been done and 1200 AUM’s will be in use for Spring of 2014. This has been a long process and thanks to everyone involved. Land Use continues to work on the Weed problems and improvements to the Agricultural Land commission and ways to improve this.

Long Valley Grazing Co-op report was given by Maurice Hanson. Through the work of Tim Ross, Maurice and Jordy Thibeault as well as the Ministry of Environment and Forest they have received their Inc. and have the Wildhorse Lewis applications ready to go. Thank you gentlemen for your hard work.

The highlight of the day for myself and for others was when Trish Nairns from Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Invasive Plant Committee spoke and gave a power point presentation on ‘training cows to eat weeds.’ Now I must say there were many a skeptic in the room and a few laughs as the entire idea was foreign to many of us. Cows eating weeds? Why would they want to? Well Trish you certainly turned our thinking around with your presentation and gave us some food for thought (or weeds). Cows have a palate and when they are lacking certain nutrients they will look for those nutrients in other earth producers-possibly weeds. Through experimentation and trial and error it has come to light that cows will eat weeds and various types of weeds. After 7-10 days working with a few cows you can train them to eat Knapweed, Dalmatian Toadflax, Burdock, Canada thistle plus more. Unreal but very interesting. Grass is green and so are weeds therefore offering many nutrients to a bovines diet. Excellent presentation that only left many of us with the thoughts that location may be key for this experiment as we all know what goes in must always come out.

Don Lowe, Provincial Beef Specialist did a question and answer segment and spoke on various topics: Verified Beef Program, Code of Practice (National Farm Animal Care Code) and McDonald’s vs. A&W debate. His presentation was very interactive as he asked those in the room the questions and many topics present were: lack of confidence in costs that continue to rise for beef producers, trade issues, certification and verification, predators and wildlife, crown range issues, AWCR water sustainability Act and  the legacy of BSE. Very interactive as agriculture continually faces the same issues throughout the years. Don recommended the BC Farm Business Advisory Service Program that helps ranchers understand their financial situation, performance and future development of their business.

Brain Zak (GREP project coordinator) gave his final presentation to us as he has retired. Over the 3 years of GREP 36 projects have been approved. The total project investment on the Crown Range Land Base over this period has been $837,000. GREP has been given and additional 3 years with a funding increase for their Pilot Program and On-going Program. Brian will be sadly missed for those of that have had the opportunity to work with him. Thank you so much for your hard work and dedication to our area Brian.

Mr. Bennett, although under the weather still took time to talk to our group and we are thankful for his continued support of our Industry throughout his terms as our MLA. Some issues that he brought up were the weight scales-government is looking to improve the phone line for oversized loads between AB and BC as well as Interprovincial permits. Talk of Off-road vehicle legislation with a proposal to have people register their off-road vehicles. The accountability will be much appreciated as it stands today we cannot report misuse of grazing lands and infractions for these vehicles. Bill has met with the new EKIPC representative Todd Larsen and continues to work on funding for our noxious weeds programs.

Elections for the 2014 board were done with Randy Reay continuing as our president. Thank you to all that sit on our board as well as various committees. Your input and continued support is very much appreciated. The urgency to get nominations for the BCCA Rep delegate were discussed as well as the importance of having locals from our area sit on this delegation. Thank you to all that let their names stand as well as their nominators.

Kootenay Livestock always puts on a great evening event for our members and after a long day of meetings everyone looks forward to the social dinner and dance upstairs. The Heritage Inn put on a lovely supper buffet with our absolute favourite – BEEF!  Raffles and silent auction had a huge response from local sponsors and we greatly thank them all.

This year the entertainment after supper was embraced hugely as the Cranbrook Violin Club led by Mr. Lutz donned their cowboy hats and gave us a great show of our community youth with various musical pieces. These young people did an excellent job and to hear that over 200 students participate in this club was amazing. Keep up the good work kids!. What a great inspiration you are.

This year a special award was given to Brian Zak for his amazing work with our GREP program. Brian you will be truly missed and we thank you for your hard work and continued support of our organization. Brian, project manager of the Grassland and Rangeland Enhancement Program has aided in creating an awareness and much funding for projects throughout our Crown Range Land and worked diligently with Kootenay Livestock. You have left us with a void that most truly will take some big boots to fill. The very best to you in your future endeavours.

Kootenay Livestock continues to work on the issues that continually bombard our industry. It seems like Agriculture is at the bottom of the barrel sometimes with the various red tape and continued enforcements put upon our Industry. There never seems to be enough done or said about the troubles that face our ranchers, with ongoing issues from predators, compensation for fencing and cattle loss, noxious weeds, range enhancement and the ongoing challenges put on the Beef Industry.

Farming and Ranching is one of the oldest and most important Industries that we have. It amazes me continually how everyone tends to be ignorant to the fact that without it we would not have the staples that are needed to complete our meals. I am proud to know that when the lights go out I can survive and it scares me to think that today’s youth are hopeless without their phones, technology and electricity. Agriculture sustains our life and it is time to put its importance higher up. This area is not just mining and forestry for without agriculture these industries would not flourish. We as ranchers and farmers take pride in our lands, animals and families and will continue to work towards keeping our industry known for its substantial part of the worlds economic and ecological place mat. Thank you to all the families and members that continue to keep this Industry striving a part of their daily lives.

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