A canola farming family in the Peace River valley won top prize in a yield contest with last year's harvest—on land rented from BC Hydro that will be lost to the Site C dam reservoir.
Colin Meek and his parents, Blane and Maryann, farm land off of Highway 29 in the valley. The Meek's winning yield was from canola fields that brought in 57.3 bushels per acre."Not bad for a drought year," Colin said.
(For context, a bushel weighs in at about 50 pounds).
The contest was put on by DEKALB seed manufacturers, a division of Monsanto Canada. The Meeks won for the Alberta-B.C. Peace Region zone. In order to claim the honour of Yield Champion, farmers must produce the highest yielding crop in their crop category, in their respective contest zone.
Representatives from the company came to the Meek family farm during last year's harvest to help weigh the canola, and when accounting for its moisture content,determined it was the highest yield in the B.C. Peace.
Colin told the Alaska Highway News that the company's representatives hadn't even weighed the whole field before they knew the Meeks were going to win.
"There was a lot of other places that were higher (yield) but we were already in the lead. (DEKALB) said 'Well, you are already winning it.' Where they took their measurements, where we won, that will all be underwater. The rest of the field is within the impact zone. I would imagine what is not underwater would eventually slough in."
The top prize was an all inclusive trip to Florida, which they gave as a bonus to an employee.
The Meek family is holding this large harvest up as an example of the land that will be lost to the dam.
"The field that we grew it on was one we call 'the Hydroland,' as it is already owned by BC Hydro," Colin wrote in a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet.
"Not all of that field will be flooded, but, of course, the parts that will be are the highest yielders.
"I came back to work on the family farm from the oilpatch because I realized that I'll never be able to eat oil, drink liquefied natural gas or breath electricity, but... I can help feed the world and clean the air with the food I grow."
Although producing almost all the canola in the province, the latest statistics from the Canadian Grain Commission show that the B.C. Peace is relatively small player on the national stage.
For the week of January 4 to 10, B.C.-owned producers delivered about 4,000 tonnes of canola, compared to 118,000 in Saskatchewan.