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

A 100 Mile RCMP officer stands watch at the intersction of Highway 97 and Horse Lake Road. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Volunteers, police search Highway 97 for articles related to high-speed chase

Search will stretch from Canco Gas Station in Lac La Hache to 150 Mile House.

An aerial photograph captures snowmobile tracks in the Cameron Ridge area earlier this year, which is closed to snowmobilers. The closures are in place to protect sensitive caribou herds. (Conservation Officer Service photo)
Snowmobilers fined for operating in closed caribou habitat near Likely, B.C.

The investigation revealed they had spent several hours in the closure leaving extensive tracks

The RCMP arrest one of the suspects on Highway 97 courtesy of cell phone footage shot by a bystander. (April Thomas photo)
WATCH: Two suspects arrested after multi-jurisdictional chase

A half dozen police cars were seen heading north on Highway 97

Commercial tenants at the Williams Lake Regional Airport have been granted an additional six-month rent reprieve. (Angie Mindus file photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Continuing rent relief for Williams Lake Airport tenants considered

City council discussed the option during a committee of the whole meeting

The Grade 2 class of 150 Mile House Elementary attended Cariboo Memorial Hospital with teacher Kirsty Bowers to deliver “kindness” bags full of small gifts to housekeeping staff. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
150 Mile House students deliver gift bags showing appreciation for hospital staff

Students begin Monday morning with a bus trip to Cariboo Memorial Hospital

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

COVID-19 vaccines were available at a site on East Pender in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside Feb. 25. (Twitter/Sarahblyth17)
Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside residents offered $5 after getting COVID-19 vaccine

It’s an effort to ‘incentivize people to engage,’ says B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix

</p>
A survey by Statistics Canada finds Black Canadians earn less than non-visible minority Canadians despite having higher levels of education. (The Canadian Press file photo)
COVID-19 worsened unemployment picture for Black Canadians

Black Canadians also more likely to suffer other hardships

On June 23, 2020, Sunrise Rotary announced it will be donating $50,000 in support of the Bridge Youth and Family Services for the construction of the “Okanagan Youth Recovery House” project for young people under the age of 19 who are experiencing addiction. (Contributed)
Interior Health adds 10 youth substance-use treatment beds in the Okanagan

The Bridge Youth and Family Services will operate the beds

(Black Press Media files)
B.C. teacher transferred then suspended after students report feeling ‘scared, nervous’

Authorities found that teacher did not create inviting, respectful environment for students

Victoria’s Swartz Bay terminal. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries offers cheaper, prepaid fare options

Ferry service preparing for busy terminals when travel restrictions are lifted

FILE - Dolly Parton arrives at the 61st annual Grammy Awards on Feb. 10, 2019, in Los Angeles. The Grammy-winning singer, actor and humanitarian posted a video on Tuesday, March 2, 2021, of her singing just before getting her COVID-19 vaccine shot. Parton donated $1 million to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee for coronavirus research. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)
‘Vaccine, vaccine’: Dolly sings ‘Jolene’ rewrite before shot

The Grammy-winning legend turned 75 this year

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland speaks about the Fiscal update during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday November 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
COVID-19: Wage and rent subsidies, lockdown support to be extended until June

Chrystia Freeland says now is not time to lower levels of support

Most Read