Agricultural Industry in the Fraser Valley
The Fraser Valley ranks number one in the province’s agricultural economy, generating over $1 billion in gross farm income each year. One in five jobs in the Fraser Valley is related to the agricultural sector. The future looks promising, with demand for BC’s agri-food products on the rise both in local and foreign markets.
The Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD) includes six member municipalities and seven electoral areas. It features a variety of diverse communities, from small rural villages to the fifth largest city in British Columbia. The FVRD is one of the most intensively farmed areas in Canada, generating the most significant annual farm income of any regional district in British Columbia. Despite the rapid population growth of the region, agriculture has flourished and remains an essential component of the region’s economy.
Access to a local market of over 2,5 million people, high-quality soils, favorable climate, accessible water and proximity to educational and research institutions makes the Fraser Valley Regional District a center for agricultural production and innovation today and into the future. There are several different types of farms in this area, in the eastern part of the Fraser River Valley, where the trans-Canada highway leaves the mountains, dairy and poultry farms are densely clustered. At the west end of the Fraser Valley, horticultural farms dominate. These farms produce commodities like lettuce and potatoes, that must compete on the market with horticultural production.
The FVRD is the most intensively farmed area in Canada. It has only 2.4 percent of the total land farmed in BC, and 14 percent of the province’s farms, but generates 38 percent of the provincial gross annual farm receipts. The economic value of agriculture in this region is more than $3 billion a year.
Gross farm receipts demonstrate only one side of the economic impact of agriculture in the FVRD. Farmers are significant consumers of goods and services, which are embodied in agriculture’s operating expenses. A considerable part of farm operating expenses flows back into the local economy. Food processors, transporters, wholesalers, retailers and other food services industries add yet another level of economic activity.
The Fraser Valley has extraordinary growing conditions for farmers. These conditions give them the possibility to produce over 200 commercial products like cranberries, raspberries, potatoes and corn that are valued both locally and internationally. The Fraser Valley often has cooler and wetter climates than the rest of BC. It’s also home to fertile soils that are great for growing certain fruits and vegetables.
Meanwhile, climate change is affecting farming regions worldwide. Over the coming years, Fraser Valley weather conditions are expected to follow global trends, with gradually growing annual temperatures, longer frost-free seasons and increased winter and spring precipitation. Scientists also predict more frequent extreme weather occasions like windstorms, heavy rain, forest fires, hail, droughts and floods.
The BC Government is helping farmers meet these challenges through its Climate Action Initiative. The BC Agriculture&Food Climate Action Initiative was developed in 2008 by the BC Agriculture Council. The Council is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that represents nearly 30 farm associations that, in turn, generate 96% of provincial farm gate sales.
The BC Agriculture & Food Climate Action Initiative develops instruments and resources to enhance the ability of the BC agriculture sector to adapt and respond to the challenges of climate change.