B.C.’s Regional Extension Program supports climate change preparedness
October 11, 2023 By Government of British Columbia
As British Columbians continue to experience the effects of record droughts and wildfires, the governments of Canada and British Columbia are supporting farmers and ranchers so they can continue to produce food in a changing climate.
“Farmers, ranchers and producers are feeling the impacts of climate change,” said Lawrence MacAulay, federal minister of agriculture and agri-food. “Investments in programs such as the Regional Extension Program will help ensure that farmers across British Columbia have the tools they need to prepare for, and mitigate the effects of, climate change on their operations. The efforts taken today will support a strong and resilient food system for Canadians for years to come.”
The Regional Extension Program supports regional projects focusing on research, knowledge transfer and new technologies. Funded through the CleanBC initiative and the joint federal-provincial Sustainable CAP, the goal of the program is to ensure healthy soils and ecosystems in agricultural communities, while helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for – and mitigate the impacts of – drought, wildfire, flooding and extreme temperatures.
“Climate change is creating more challenges for our farmers, ranchers and food producers, and we’re seeing the impacts of these extreme weather events in our communities,” said Pam Alexis, B.C. minister of agriculture and food. “We’re proactively helping producers so they can better prepare for, adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change. This will help them build more resilient and sustainable practices so they can better protect their farms and livestock and ensure our food supply is stable now and in the future.”
The program funds activities such as data sharing, on-farm demonstrations, workshops and webinars that highlight best practices and the latest research and technologies to support sustainable agriculture. There are 16 projects underway, with more starting in the coming months.
Several projects are focused on helping regions prepare for and adapt to drought. In drought-affected regions of B.C., workshops are being offered to give farmers information to implement new strategies and best management practices (BMPs) that will help them adapt to the impacts of climate change.
“Supporting sustainable farming practices, such as cover crop management, is important for B.C.’s grape growers and, in turn, B.C.’s wine sector,” said Ruth King, program manager, Sustainable Winegrowing B.C. “I was pleased to be able to present observations from different wine-growth stages during field-day events for growers in the Okanagan, which will help them prepare for climate impacts in the next growing season and beyond.”
Other projects include workshops and field days on silvopasture for farmers and ranchers so they can learn about and apply practices that will improve water quality and land-use planning.
A key feature of this program is the use of local knowledge, whereby ministry staff work directly with farmers to identify and develop projects that strengthen both climate resilience and food security. Regional engagement sessions will take place in November. Interested farmers can call AgriServiceBC at 1 888 221-7141 to find out about activities in their region.
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