Agriculture and wineries represent a sector ripe with opportunity in the Kootenay Development Region. Agricultural activities primarily include ranching, grain, fruit, and dairy production, nurseries, and grape growing and wine production. Farmers also raise llamas, ostriches, peacocks, goats and other animals to produce soaps, cheeses, eggs, and wool. Creston and the Boundary Area are agricultural leaders in the Kootenay Development Region offering ideal growing climates – comparable to the Okanagan Region.
Available land parcels and competitive land prices represent key competitive advantages offered by the Kootenay Development Region. A total of 383,763 hectares of land is dedicated to the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR), including 265,395 hectares in the East Kootenay region, 63,924 hectares in the Central Kootenay region, and 53,444 hectares in the Kootenay Boundary region. According to 2006 census data, 1,423 farms account for 186,996 hectares of land in the region, including 562 farms (27,338 hectares) in the Central Kootenay region, 395 farms (97,662 hectares) in the East Kootenay region, 392 farms (53,260 hectares) in the Kootenay Boundary region, and 71 farms (8,736 hectares) in Revelstoke and Golden Electoral Areas of the Columbia-Shuswap region.
In 2005, the 1,423 farms in the Kootenay Development Region generated $70,289,214 in total gross sales (excluding forest products sold). More specifically, farms in the Central Kootenay region generated $30,004,374 in total gross farm sales, farms in the Kootenay Boundary region generated $23,442,296 in sales, farms in the East Kootenay region generated $15,570,846 in sales, and farms in Revelstoke and Golden Electoral Areas of the Columbia-Shuswap region generated $1,271,698.
Emerging opportunities in the agricultural sector include wineries, and processing and value-added production. A recent report from the Boundary Economic Development Commission (BEDC) also identified ranching expansion, turkeys, goats for dairy operation and artisan cheeses, and Christmas trees as future viable enterprises in addition to grapes and wineries.