FORT ST. JOHN -- B.C. Hydro is providing over $107-thousand towards independent farmers and small farms across the Peace Region.

The money is coming through the B.C. Hydro Peace Agricultural Compensation Fund. Their board of directors has approved $107,155 in grant funding to support agricultural production and economic activity in the Peace Region.

Hasberry Farms Inc. in Chetwynd will receive $50,000 for the construction of a processing centre for haskap berry products for the commercial market. “This project will enable us to store and process our berries into value-added products on our farm, creating more local employment, as well as providing additional local food options for Peace Region communities,” says Kristin Atherton, the director of Hasberry Farms.

Josh Wiebe received $31,743 for farmland development in the community of Buick Creek. This project involves clearing previously logged land for development to grow crops. The pasture will be rotationally grazed to feed 60 feeder steers. Ashely Pugh in Cecil Lake will receive $1,325 for the purchase of a livestock scale for both at-home use and use by local 4-H members.

They’ll also be providing $12,500 to the North Slope Cattle Company Ltd in Progress, just west of Dawson Creek. The money will fund portable game fencing which allows for more flexibility in winter feeding, improving the pasture health and making feeding options more efficient. Nearby, David and Brenda DeWetter in Groundbirch will get $6,291 to upgrade their corral system for sorting and loading cows and calves.

Delano Kjos in Tomslake will get $5,296 for a Razer Grazer, an all-in-one, portable electric fencing unit. Megan Kjos says, “The Razer Grazer is a mobile fencing unit that will allow us to divide our pastures as required for both the growing season we have each year, but also to match the needs of the pasture as it matures and changes with cattle using it. It will ensure that we can use and benefit the land to our best ability, as well as more efficiently use the pasture we have to get the most out of the grazing season.”

B.C. Hydro appointed Northern Development Initiative Trust as the financial administrator of the Peace Agricultural Compensation Fund in 2018. They worked together in the fall of 2018 to develop a financial management plan for the fund, to preserve a $20 million capital investment and to use investment returns for grants. The fund has two intakes per year, with funds being distributed on a bi-annual basis.