Farmland is at a premium in beautiful BC. Small amounts of arable land combined with a high population in the lower mainland has resulted in a concentration of intensive agriculture - industrial hog, dairy and chicken production - is a major part of the agriculture sector. As in other provinces, the size of farms has gone up and the number of farmers has gone down, reflecting increasing concentration of livestock production.
According to Statistics Canada, Hog production in BC has more than doubled in thirty years, going from 55,549 in 1976 to 135,826 in 2006. The number of pig farmers has dropped by forty percent, from 2,057 to 817. Meanwhile 72% of BC’s hogs are now raised on just 16 farms. Between 1976 and 2006 BC lost almost half its egg farmers, going from 6,885 to 3,854. Production in BC has increased slightly, with 2,649,816 laying hens in 1976 to 3,111,480 in 2006. 50% of BC’s laying hens are now raised on just 47 farms.
While the growing concentration of egg production is significant, it is not nearly as dramatic as in hogs due to the buffering effect of Canada’s supply management system for eggs, poultry, dairy, chicks and turkey. However, the market for quota tends to bid the price up to a point that intensive production methods are required in order to pay off debt from purchasing quota.
The outbreak of avian flu in British Columbia in the spring of 2004 focused national attention on the concentration of poultry production in BC’s Fraser Valley.