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Tuesday, 13 March 2012 14:17

Ag project looks to expand

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By Jamie Woodford
Southern Alberta
Blood Tribe Agricultural Project (BTAP) has become so successful, it’s looking to expand two of its programs.
The organization recently held a three-day information session aimed at not only creating awareness of the BTAP’s programs, but also to generate more business.


Presentations were made by Canadian and U.S. cattle companies as well as the Intertribal Agricultural Council, a native American agricultural organization, but perhaps the most important part of the event was when the focus turned to the BTAP’s hay processing plant.

“It’s one of the true businesses on the Blood Reserve that’s really working — vertically integrated right from the product that’s seeded,” said Justin Shade, marketing manager for BTAP.

Since 1994, the Blood Tribe Forage Processing Plant has grown about 6,000 acres of premium irrigated timothy hay, a popular feedstock for livestock in Japan, located about 30 kilometres west of Lethbridge on the Blood Reserve. The hay is cut, baled and stored until favourable moisture levels are reached.

The hay is then compressed and packaged to be exported overseas. The plant is part of the BTAP 25,000-acre irrigation project.

BTAP buys timothy hay from other native reserves and other producers, but things went so well this year they ran out of hay to process.

“Everything was going good. We sold all our product and now we have to go out and look for more products, so next year, we’re going to hopefully increase it more,” said Shade.

“We have a number of forage producers on the reserve that want to meet producers (who can) sell some hay to us.”

BTAP also has plans to expand its natural beef program, and has already begun to work on getting its feedlots up and running again. Prior to the BSE outbreak, BTAP produced natural beef for Spring Creek Ranch in Vegreville and now that the cattle industry is set to boom, BTAP plans to get back on board.

“With natural beef there’s aways a problem processing the animals because natural beef is not a big market, it’s a small niché market, but the premiums are there, that’s why we want to get into it,” he said.

“We want to get more involved and go a little further. Get a brand and label and all that stuff.”

More information on the BTAP and its programs can be found at www.btap.ca

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