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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The North Pine Farmers Institute is seeking $1 million from BC Hydro’s agricultural compensation fund to improve grain holding capacity for local producers.

Institute President Wade Cusack says a new bin would greatly benefit crop producers in the region and build off the success of the existing elevator.

“Since 2010, it’s been moving through about 70,000 metric tons a year, and there’s over double that produced in the North Peace,” said Cusack. “Our whole mandate as the North Pine Farmers Institute is to better the rural community and agriculture.”

A new 1,771-tonne grain bin is planned to be installed at the Fort St. John rail head and elevator site, adding about 65,000 bushels of capacity for producers. The current site has a 4,200 tonne capacity, or 154,000 bushels.

About 100 farms currently use the Fort St. John elevator to get their goods to market, with a new bin expected to help store a variety of seed crops, including canola, wheat, barley, and oats.

“The current situation of the elevator has been absolutely positive, but we used to have 16 elevators in the North Peace, and we now have one,” Cusack said.

“Every week they more than 50 per cent unload their elevator, which makes it a real a challenge to get enough products back in for the next week to reload the cars again.”

Additional rail cars are also part of the funding ask. Cusack said the rail lines take grain products to Prince Rupert, granting much needed quick access to port and global markets.

Last week, board directors at the Peace River Regional District voted to write a letter of support for the Farmers Institute and its application to the agricultural compensation fund.

The $20-million bi-annual fund was established in 2018 to offset the impacts of the Site C dam on farmland in the region.

More than $1.2 million has been awarded to 53 projects since the ag fund was launched.

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