Owners of agriculture operations such as this one in Springhouse have an extra census form to fill out and send in.  Statistics Canada conducts the Census of Agriculture every five years

Owners of agriculture operations such as this one in Springhouse have an extra census form to fill out and send in. Statistics Canada conducts the Census of Agriculture every five years

Agriculture operators encouraged to fill out census

Area rancher and former minister of agriculture David Zirnhelt encourages agriculture operators to fill out and send in their Census.

Area rancher and former minister of agriculture David Zirnhelt encourages agriculture operators to fill out and send in their Census of Agriculture questionnaire due this month.

“I think it’s really important because when we want to understand trends in farming and needs of farmers quite often it will show up in the census,” Zirnhelt said Thursday.

“Anyone studying the industry or sectors needs good information.”

Zirnhelt did say he wished the forms were sent out in the winter months before calving, rather than the spring when people in the industry are busy with branding, fencing and everything else.

Personally, Zirnhelt has never had any issue filling out the census and said he isn’t paranoid about providing the information.

“It is pretty innocuous information in my view,” he said.

“I don’t think there are privacy implications for people filling it in. It puts out nothing more than a neighbour can see looking across your fence.”

Questions on the census run the gamut.

They cover livestock, machinery, crops, how much of the land is workable, and if someone is renting or leasing from or to other people or government.

“There’s a whole area of questions on forage, such as what types of hay. They spread it between higher quality feed to more regular feed,” Zirnhelt said.

“Then they go into other crops —  potatoes, mustard, canary seed, tobacco, ginseng, buckwheat, whatever.”

If people have nurseries, greenhouses, or grow Christmas trees, then operators answer further questions.

Market values also come into the questions.

And while people may be reluctant to divulge that information, Zirnhelt said assessed values are always available on the BC Assessment website

The census also asks about investment and a person’s degree of capitalization, but that’s always something agriculture operators look at as well, he added.

“You want to know how much machinery you have compared to the income you have, with over-capitalization being an issue in the industry.”

Zirnhelt said census information has been used by himself and others to design the new Applied Sustainable Ranching Program at Thompson Rivers University in Williams Lake.

“When we talk about diversifying enterprises on a ranch at the TRU course it’s important to know where your competition or market is.”

This week the Ministry of Agriculture also encouraged B.C. agriculture operators to fill out the census saying it provides detailed regional data for B.C. agriculture and farm operations with insights into revenues and expenses, farming practices and the use of technology.

About 20,000 B.C. family farms use 2.6 million hectares, out of the 4.6 million hectares available in the agricultural land reserve, to produce more than 200 agriculture and agrifood commodities, the ministry said.

Statistics Canada conducts the Census of Agriculture every five years.

“It is a challenging sector to keep populated, people employed and businesses viable,” Zirnhelt said. “During my time as minister of agriculture I saw nothing but upside from the census information being available because we were under pressure to develop appropriate programs and a lot of groups don’t do their own research and expect government to have the information.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Lil Mack has been a member of Cariboo Chilcotin Partners for Literacy since its inception. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Lil Mack of Williams Lake honoured with BC Achievement Community Award

Mack has been an ever-present, quietly powerful literacy force in Williams Lake for several decades

FILE - In this April 19, 2021, file photo, Keidy Ventura, 17, receives her first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in West New York, N.J. States across the country are dramatically scaling back their COVID-19 vaccine orders as interest in the shots wanes, putting the goal of herd immunity further out of reach. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
5 more deaths, 131 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health over the weekend

Those 18-years and older in high-transmission neighbourhoods can register for the vaccine

(File photo)
High-visibility arrest in Williams Lake nets BB gun, mistaken for assault rifle

RCMP thought the man was carrying an M16 assault-style rifle

LETTER: Improvements needed at Scout Island

The City can do better managing their responsibilities

More than 14,800 COVID-19 vaccines have been administered at clinics in Williams Lake, Alexis Creek, Big Lake, Horsefly, West Chilcotin, 100 Mile House and Clinton as of Friday, May 7. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
6,000-plus people vaccinated for COVID-19 in Williams Lake, and in 100 Mile House

Interior Health Authority provide the numbers up to May 7, 2021

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a ‘person of interest’ in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
RCMP identify ‘person of interest’ in Kootenay National Park suspicious death

Police are looking for Philip Toner, who was known to a woman found dead near Radium last week

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko (35) makes a save on Winnipeg Jets’ Nate Thompson (11) during second period NHL action in Winnipeg, Monday, May 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
Vancouver Canucks see NHL playoff hopes dashed despite 3-1 win over Winnipeg

Montreal Canadiens earn final North Division post-season spot

The B.C. legislature went from 85 seats to 87 before the 2017 election, causing a reorganization with curved rows and new desks squeezed in at the back. The next electoral boundary review could see another six seats added. (Black Press files)
B.C. election law could add six seats, remove rural protection

North, Kootenays could lose seats as cities gain more

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of an Indigenous woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation wants ‘massive change’ after its 3rd police shooting in less than a year

Nuu-chah-nulth woman recovering from gunshot wounds in weekend incident near Ucluelet

Nurse Gurinder Rai, left, administers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Maria Yule at a Fraser Health drive-thru vaccination site, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. The site is open for vaccinations 11 hours per day to those who have pre-booked an appointment. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID vaccine bookings to open for adults 40+, or 18+ in hotspots, across B.C.

Only people who have registered will get their alert to book

Dr. Victoria Lee, CEO of Fraser Health, hosts an update on efforts to contain B.C.’s COVID-19 transmission in Surrey and the Fraser Valley and protect hospitals in the Lower Mainland, May 6, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate slowing, 20 more people die

Deaths include two people in their 40s, two in their 50s

Most Read