KAMLOOPS — More than one hundred ranchers from throughout the Interior gathered for the second day of the B.C Cattlemen's Association's annual general meeting in Kamloops on Friday.
With more than four-thousand cattle ranches in B.C, it's an industry that remains a lifeblood throughout the province.
However like any industry, there are strict regulations cattlemen must abide by, and those regulations are getting tougher every year.
For Mark Grafton, the chance to trade stories with ranchers from throughout the province is a welcome reprieve from the day to day demands of ranch life.
Grafton helps his son run a ranch in Prince George.
According to the semi-retiree, the stresses of the job have increased significantly from when he started.
"It's a totally different world than it was 20 to 25 years ago," said Grafton. "There's things like keeping up on water problems, to keeping up with Work Safe BC requirements, range use, things like that."
The B.C Cattlemen's Association's annual meeting gives its 12-hundred members the chance to brush up on the latest industry products as well discuss industry practices and concerns with other cattle producers.
"We deal with resolutions from water to animal health to animal wealth fare, to how we deal with things on the land, it's a wide range of issues," said Kevin Boon, General Manager of the B.C Cattlemen's Association.
Boon says food-conscious consumers are a particular concern for today's small, family-owned ranchers who make up 90-per cent oof the provincial industry.
"They have more concerns on the antibiotics we use and how we raise that cattle," said Boon. "What they don't realize is by doing that, they drive the cost up. What happens is the big guys are able to take over the small guys because the small guys can no longer afford to raise cattle at the conditions that are being brought forward."
Then, there's overseas interest.
"We're seeing more foreign investment, more Asian money coming into the industry," added Boon. "What happens in those cases is they're doing it for their own food security but they want that product going to China so it kind of takes the money out of our economy."
Ed Salle runs a fifth-generation cattle farm in Barriere.
He worries about the future of ranching but tries to keep it in perspective.
"There's a certain amount of risk and a lot of work in ranching," said Salle. "I think younger generations are interested in more technology-based industries, however, I think that's been going on for generations," said Salle.
Despite the stress, ranchers say it isn't all dark skies.
"It is a great industry," said Boon. "We share our ideas, we share our knowledge. We have to work together to get to where we need to be in the future."
"It's having a personality that needs to be close to the land and close to the animals that you work with," said Grafton. "That's the main reason we do it."
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