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BC Dairy Achievement Awards

BC Dairy Achievement Awards 2019 - Dr. James R. Thompson
2019 Award Winner

Dr. James R. Thompson has made a tremendous contribution to the dairy industry in BC and Canada. His leadership and vision are most evident in his work with the University of BC Dairy Education and Research Centre (Dairy Centre) in Agassiz.

Jim grew up on a dairy farm in the Shuswap. He attended UBC and completed his PhD at University of California, Davis. In 1992, Dr. Thompson came to UBC as Professor and in 1997 he became Associate Dean in the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences and a founding Director of the UBC Dairy Centre, a role he officially retired from in 2018.

During his two decades at the Dairy Centre, Dr. Thompson helped direct the redevelopment and modernization of the animal research facilities supporting education and research in dairy cattle welfare, behavior, reproduction, nutrition and energy recovery from manure.

Dr. Thompson was instrumental in establishing the UBC’s Animal Welfare Program which is recognized nationally and internationally as a leading innovator in dairy cattle welfare research making Canadian Dairy Farming one of the most progressive industries in the world. Research at the Dairy Centre contributed significantly to the development of the Canadian Farm Animal Care Council’s Dairy Code of Practice.

Dr. Thompson developed excellent working relationships with dairy industry stakeholder/partners including university research and government. The exceptional quality of the work of the Dairy Centre attracted prominent Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada scientists to the Dairy Centre. This collaboration of University and Government scientists working together in the same research facility, was the first of its kind in Canada.

Dr. Thompson made a strong commitment to graduate students interested in careers in the dairy industry. Attracting quality students has been pivotal to the success of the research programs at the Dairy Centre. Dr. Thompson’s legacy will continue to benefit local, provincial, national, and international dairy industries for many more years.

BC Dairy Achievement Awards 2018 - David Schmidt
2018 Award Winner

BC Dairy Historical Society President, Jim Byrne, awarded the BC Dairy Industry Achievement Award for 2018 to David Schmidt, Editor Emeritus of the Country Life in BC and Distinguished British Columbia Agriculture Writer.

David was raised on his family’s dairy farm in Sumas Prairie. As a child, David was an avid reader of the Butter-Fat magazine and Country Life in BC. David attended UBC where he studied History and International Relations, then switching to Creative Writing. He spent 4 years working on the Ubyssey student newspaper.

David’s writing career began in 1973 writing radio commercials for CHWK radio in Chilliwack, BC. In 1985, David was asked to do some writing for the Country Life in BC. The editor liked David’s writing and he never looked back.

David found agriculture writing to be extremely gratifying. During his writing career, David contributed to Country Life in BC, Western Dairy Farmer Magazine, Canadian Poultry, Greenhouse Canada, Fruit and Vegetable Canada, Prairie Hog Report, PNE Agriculture Writer, Abbotsford Agrifair Media Relations and Pro Bono Media Releases for the BC Outstanding Young Farmer Program. David considers himself a true ‘farm’ writer. He writes for farmers who are farming to make money. His favourite day of the year is the BC Dairy Expo Self tour. “ I have always been a strong proponent of supply management. It gave my parents a living and a good retirement, so I have first-hand knowledge of the value of quota. The supply managed sector, dairy and poultry, has always been my first love.”

David served as President of the BC Farm Writers Association for 20 years and President of the Canadian Farm Writers Federation in the mid 1990s. Some of his awards include:

  • • 1995 - Ralph and Mae Barichello Leadership Award (Jersey Canada)
  • • 2000 - BC Agriculturist of the Year (BC Institute of Agrologists)
  • • 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award (Canadian Farm Writers Federation)
  • • 2018 Scotiabank Champion of Agriculture (BC Ag Council)
  • • Canadian Farm Writing Federation Awards
  • • Three Gold and three Bronze Awards for Monthly Press Reporting, Editorial and Technical Feature

“DAVID has a reputation for Balanced and Informative reporting on the many controversial issues facing agriculture and dairy farming”

John van Dongen

BC Dairy Achievement Awards 2017 - Wally Smith
2017 Award Winner

BC Dairy Historical Society President, Jim Byrne awarded Wally Smith the BC Dairy Industry Achievement Award for 2017 at the BC Dairy Industry Conference Banquet in Vancouver on December 7.

Wally was raised on his family’s dairy farm in Chemanis on Vancouver Island. Wally was a baker by trade but returned to the family farm in 1985. With the untimely death of his brother, Wally became a full time dairy farmer in 1986. Wally and his wife Julie now have two grown children, Christopher and Angela. They milk 75 cows.

Wally took an interest in the dairy industry and began attending meetings of the Island Milk Producers. He served as President of the BC Milk Producers Association from 1999 – 2004 and on the board of directors of the BC Dairy Foundation from 1998-2002. Wally became a director of Dairy Farms of Canada in July 2000 and was elected to the Executive Committee in July 2003. In 2005, he was elected to the International Federation of Agricultural Producers Group on Dairy Products, where he served as vice-chair from 2008-2010.

Wally served as President of the Dairy Farmers of Canada from 2011 to 2017. Only one of three British Columbia dairy farmers to ever hold the position.

Wally made the list of Canadian Business’ Most Powerful Business People, at #46 in 2015, following DFC’s lobby in agriculture and trade. The Globe and Mail named him among its ‘Food 53’ group for fighting “to save supply management and win compensation for farmers as a result of recently negotiated free-trade deals.”

Wally was a leader in the fight to maintain Supply Management for Canadian Dairy Farmers. He was the Canadian Dairy Industry Ambassador in the trade negotiations including GATT, CETA, TPP, and NAFTA.

BC Dairy Achievement Awards 2016 - John van Dongen
2016 Award Winner

John van Dongen: John’s parents immigrated from Holland in 1949. John was born in Canada on December 13, 1949. The oldest of the seven children, he was raised on his family dairy farm, first in Pitt Meadows and then in Delta.

John holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of BC. In 1975, John started his dairy farm, first in Dewdney and then on Matsqui Prairie.

In 1979, John was elected to the Board of Directors of the Fraser Valley Milk Producers’ Association serving for a time as Vice President. John served on the BC Dairy Foundation, the BC Dairymen’s Federation and the Federal Farm Debt Review Board.

John served on the Agrifoods International Cooperative Ltd board until 1993.

During the challenges to the supply management by the dissident dairy shippers in the 1980s, John worked tirelessly to resolve the issue. His initiative made a significant contribution to ending those threats to supply management.

John was first elected to the Provincial Legislature in 1995 in a by-election and was re-elected in 1996, 2001, 2005 and 2009.

In Opposition, John served as Agriculture and Fisheries Critic and sat on the Select Standing Committees on Agriculture and Fisheries and Crown Corporations.

In Government, John served as Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, Minister of State for Intergovernmental Relations, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor-General, Caucus Whip, Member of the Parliamentary Committee on Finance and Government Services and Chair of the Caucus Committee on Government Restructuring. When he retired from politics in 2013, John was one of the longest serving MLAs in the BC Legislature.

John lives in Abbotsford with his wife Sherri and stepson Lukas. He is also the father of two sons and has two grandchildren. He continues to operate his own successful dairy farm.

BC Dairy Achievement Awards 2015 - John Pendray
2015 Award Winner

John Pendray has been a strong leader in the dairy industry in BC serving as of President of Island Farms Co-operative which he led with distinction for 30 years.

John Peters Pendray was born May 15, 1925 on the first “Pendray Farm” - in a farmhouse that still stands today at Swan Lake. John’s parents were Saanich pioneers and involved all four children in the family farm. When farm help was scarce during the Second World War, John was faced with the difficult choice of pursuing his education or continuing the family milk delivery business. With his usual fortitude, he did both. He started at 4:00 am and completed half his deliveries, then completed the deliveries after school. His long days continued when he joined the University Air Training Corp while attending Victoria College and working on the farm. John knew instinctively that in order to keep farming viable he had to be flexible and innovative. He embraced technology, veterinary and soil science, and sound business practices.

John has been described as an ambassador for farming. He emphasized the importance of education and would always take the time out of his busy days to give tours for school children and foreign students. Dairy farming is a way of life for generations of Pendrays and that way of life is centered on the family. John married Joyce, the love of his life, in 1948 and they raised four wonderful children. Along with building one of the very successful dairy farms on Vancouver Island, one of John’s proudest accomplishments has been the success of Island Farms Co-operative. As President, John always exhibited the strength of character that made him distinctive and successful. His skill in motivating others by co-operation and mutual understanding has been widely acknowledged in the industry. In recognition of good farming and outstanding community leadership, the BC Institute of Agrologists honoured him by naming him as Agriculturist of the Year in 1985. He has since served as a member of the BC Dairy Foundation, focusing and emphasizing both provincial and national strategies for dairy farming. John was an early member of our BC Dairy Historical Society and faithfully attended our meetings and championed our projects.

In recent years John served on the Board of Directors for the ALS Society of BC. In 2010 John received the ALS Canada Advocacy Award.

BC Dairy Achievement Awards 2014 - Neil Gray
2014 Award Winner

Neil Gray retired from the Fraser Valley Milk Producers’ Cooperative Association on January 31, 1986, after serving the Association and the industry for over 45 years. Mr. Gray joined the staff in 1940 as a Laboratory Technician at the Eighth Avenue plant in Vancouver. After serving overseas with the Canadian Army, he completed his requirements for a BSA degree at U.B.C. in 1946.

He rejoined the Association as Plant Bacteriologist and Fieldman at the Sardis Utility Plant and in 1947 was made Chief Bacteriologist, a position he held for ten years. In 1957 Neil left the Association to take a post as sales representative for the Creamery Package Manufacturing Co. and in 1960 returned as Manager of Shannon Dairies, a subsidiary at that time. In 1964 he became the Marketing Manager for FVMPA, for Dairyland, Pacific, and Arctic Ice Cream products. He was named Assistant General Manager in 1967 and appointed General Manager in February of 1975. During his eleven years as General Manager, the FVMPA underwent a major expansion of operations with a significant internal development of productivity and budgets. Dutch Dairies was purchased in 1977 producing cheddar cheese under the Armstrong brand. The mainland operations of Silverwood Industries Ltd. were acquired in 1981 combining operations and establishing a dedicated plant for ice cream production.

Mr. Gray over the the construction of the Abbotsford Cheese plant and the Milk Processing plants at Courtenay and Smithers.

Mr. Gray was active in the National Dairy Council of Canada, serving as a director for many years and as its Chairman in 1977-78. He served a member of the Canadian Dairy Commission's Consultative Committee. He was honored in April 1985 by the Dairy Bureau of Canada with a gold medal to recognize significant contribution to the dairy industry of Canada. He was instrumental in the establishment of both the B.C. Dairy Foundation and the B.C. Dairy Council, serving as the President of Council during 1973 and 1974.

His dedication to the B.C. and Canadian Dairy Industry has provided this Association with leadership of the highest level. His many friends and associates wish him a long and happy retirement. Neil was a driving force for preserving the heritage of the dairy industry in BC by ensuring the historic materials, including the bound editions of the Butter-Fat magazine and the Clymber Murals, were put into the care of the BC Dairy Historical Society. These materials are a major part of the BCDHS archives and website.