Raymond and Tracey will participate in the national event in December
By Diego Flammini
A pair of chicken and hop farmers from Abbotsford, B.C. are the BC/Yukon Outstanding Young Farmers for 2020.
“Just being nominated is a big deal,” Raymond Bredenhof, who received the award with his wife Tracey, told Farms.com. “I think, a lot of time, you’re just out in the field or the barn doing your own thing and not a lot people see what you’re doing. So, it’s pretty cool to be nominated and recognized.”
The Bredenhofs operate a commercial broiler farm where they raise about 225,000 chickens each year. The pair plan to upgrade their barns to increase production by about 25 per cent.
In addition, the couple is involved in the re-emergence of the province’s hop industry.
In 2007, B.C. had only three hop farmers. By 2017, that number had increased to 30, said Raymond, who chairs the BC Hop Growers Association.
In 2016, he planted six acres of hops on his land and eight acres on another farmer’s land.
In 2018, B.C. farmers planted more than 600 acres of hops. Ontario growers were second that year with about 225 acres of the crop.
The young B.C. farmers faced new challenges with entering hop production.
The Bredenhofs started to use integrated pest management (IPM), nutrient management and environmental farm plans, which have paid dividends, Raymond said.
“With the IPM on the hops side of things, there are things I can do this spring that have an effect for a year or two down the road,” he said. “We’ve become very aware of how nutrients and everything like that interact.”
Growing hops also rekindled the couple’s interest in ag.
“We wanted to diversify and try something new,” he said. “Chickens are under supply management. There’s a quota and a marketing board, so that makes the business part of chickens very easy. With hops, you can be the world’s greatest farmer but, if you don’t have any marketing or distribution plan, you have nothing.
“Producing hops has been very challenging, but it really re-ignited my passion for farming.”
The Bredenhofs will participate in the national event in Saskatchewan in December.
They will join Roelof and Mary van Benthem from Alberta, Andre and Katie Steppler from Manitoba, and Phillip and Katie Keddy from Nova Scotia. The latter couple represents Atlantic Canada.
Regional winners from Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan will be announced at later dates.
Raymond and Tracey Bredenhof and their four children.