B.C. collaborating to support producers through wildfires and drought
July 19, 2023 By Government of British Columbia
The Government of British Columbia is working in collaboration with partners in the agricultural community, as well as other levels of government, to support B.C. farmers and ranchers as they face serious effects from wildfire and drought.
The B.C. Ministry of Agriculture and Food has existing programs and partnerships in place to support farmers and ranchers and is working with partners to add more supports. It is important for farmers and ranchers to know that a provincial state of emergency does not need to be declared in order for them to receive support through assistance programs, such as AgriRecovery.
“Supporting our agriculture producers is top of mind for me and I have been in touch and continue to speak with farmers and ranchers about the challenges they are facing,” said Pam Alexis, minister of agriculture and food, in a press release. “Our staff are in regular contact with B.C. Dairy, the B.C. Cattlemen’s Association and the B.C. Agriculture Council, as well as farmers and ranchers who are on the ground and are working through these challenges in real time. We are collaborating on solutions and to expand supports.
“I want to assure people that we are working hard to ensure the agriculture community is supported, and to our farmers and ranchers, I want you to know that we are here for you.”
British Columbia has formally submitted a request to the federal government for AgriRecovery funding. AgriRecovery is a federal-provincial cost-sharing program that helps adversely affected farms get back into production. Most recently, AgriRecovery programs were successfully delivered in response to the wildfires and atmospheric river event in 2021.
“I have spoken with federal minister Bibeau to ensure she is aware of the gravity of the situation,” Alexis said. “We need the federal government’s support during this challenging time and I am continuing to advocate strongly for the agriculture community. Just as we’ve done with other recent challenges, we will get through this by working together.”
In addition to the potential AgriRecovery funding, there are existing funding programs that growers and producers can access, including AgriStability, which can help farmers offset unexpected income losses. The ministry is working closely with the federal government to get approval to implement the following changes to help support farmers, ranchers, and producers:
- AgriStability Late Participation for farms and ranches that did not enrol in the program before the April 30 deadline;
- an increase to the AgriStability Interim Payment limit from 50 to 75 per cent; advance payments can be obtained in as few as 10 business days; and
- a higher grain and oilseed crop write-off level so the crops that have been written off can be used for livestock feed.
There is also a significant need for feed, and many ranchers and producers are facing difficult decisions. Unfortunately, the feed shortage is not unique to B.C. and is being felt throughout Western Canada. The ministry is working closely with partners on the ground, such as the B.C. Cattleman’s Association and B.C. Dairy, to identify additional sources of feed. If any additional feed is secured, it will be distributed to producers.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Food also has extensive programming targeted at helping farmers adapt to drought, wildfire and extreme heat conditions, as well as risk-management programs targeted to stabilize income. In the past year, the province has further introduced programs such as the Extreme Weather Preparedness for Agriculture Program and Agriculture Water Infrastructure Program, as well as increased funding to the Beneficial Management Practices Program.
Farmers, ranchers and producers who need support are encouraged to contact their industry association or to call the AgriService B.C. line at 1 888 221-7141. Ministry of Agriculture and Food staff can help the agricultural community access existing programs. Regional agrologists are available to provide specialized assistance for those who require it, and ministry staff are being deployed to the most affected areas to listen directly to producers on their farms and take appropriate action.
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