Chilliwack couple named B.C. Young Farmers of the Year

A Chilliwack couple as become the first second-generation winners of the BC Yukon Outstanding Young Farmer program.

Chilliwack's Jewel and Brian Pauls (centre) were named B.C.'s Outstanding Young Farmers of the Year in Abbotsford on Wednesday. They're joined by interim BCOYF chair Sara Harker and incoming BCOYF chair Troy Harker.

A Chilliwack couple as become the first second-generation winners of the BC Yukon Outstanding Young Farmer program.

Brian and Jewel Pauls, who operate a poultry and egg farm in Chilliwack, won the honour in Abbotsford on Jan. 13.

Brian’s parents, Frank and Elma Pauls, earned the same award in 1990.

Although Pauls claims to own “only one farm,” with 17,000 broilers and 55,000 caged white and free range brown layers, he also manages the family’s “multiple” egg, broiler and turkey farms in BC and Saskatchewan. The holdings include Canada’s first certified humane turkey farm.

“We raise broilers, pullets, layers and turkeys and grow a multitude of crops which use a lot of chicken manure,” the Pauls says.

The Pauls holdings may rival some of the mega-farms in the US, but their operational model is completely different.

“We buy family farms and hire families to live on and manage them,” Pauls says, noting this gives opportunities to people who may not have the capital to own their own farm. It also helps spread the risk of a potentially-devastating avian influenza or other poultry disease outbreak. The

value of that was demonstrated last year as they only had to depopulate one barn during the most recent AI outbreak.

“Our birds were not infected,” Pauls stresses, “but our farm was within the restricted zone.”

Pauls has had a life-long interest in farming. When he was still a toddler, his father welded a carseat onto the tractor so Brian could accompany him around the farm. Although he went to study agriculture at the University of BC on a scholarship in the mid-1990s, he jumped at the chance to return home after just a year when his father offered him the opportunity to become the farm manager.

To be eligible for the Outstanding Young Farmer award, farmers must be between 19 and 39 years and derive at least two-thirds of their income from farming. Nominees are judged on conservation practices, production history, financial and management practices, and community contributions.

Brian and Jewel Pauls will represent BC at the national OYF competition in Niagara Falls, ON, in November.

The BCOYF program is sponsored by the BC Broiler Hatching Egg Commission, Clearbrook Grain & Milling, Farm Credit Canada and Insure Wealth. The national competition is supported by AdFarm, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Annex Business Media, Bayer Crop Science, BDO, CIBC, Farm Management Canada and John Deere.

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