New B.C. program to improve ag water management and supply
July 5, 2023 By Government of British Columbia
A new program will help British Columbia’s agricultural producers improve water management and water supply for crops and livestock, resulting in more agricultural production and strengthened food security.
“Access to water is crucial for food production and ensuring we have sustainable, resilient local food systems,” said Pam Alexis, minister of agriculture and food. “The Agricultural Water Infrastructure program will help B.C.’s agricultural communities adapt to climate-change effects, like the increased threat of drought, and help grow more food by supporting new and improved water storage and water-supply infrastructure.”
The program will support more efficient water management, including the use of leading-edge technology in water-scarce and drought-prone areas, so available water can be maximized for agricultural uses, such as irrigation and livestock watering. Support for additional water infrastructure will also be considered if there is high potential for farmland expansion or if the increase in water supply will lead to more agricultural production.
“Water is essential to agricultural production. However, in recent years, multiple regions of British Columbia have experienced adverse climate events that placed considerable stress on supplies of safe, reliable water for farmers at the most critical time of the growing season,” said Jennifer Woike, president, B.C. Agriculture Council. “Farmers and ranchers are leaders in the efficient management of water resources, and the Agricultural Water Infrastructure program is an important investment in that leadership role.”
The $20-million Agricultural Water Infrastructure program will be open to B.C. farmers, ranchers and agricultural producers as well as Indigenous communities, Indigenous producers, irrigation and improvement districts, local governments, and agricultural and conservation groups.
The program will be administered by the Investment Agriculture Foundation of B.C. (IAF).
“The tree-fruit industry began with the pioneers diverting water from the nearby hills, and we continue to rely on this precious resource,” said Sukhpaul Bal, farmer and president, B.C. Cherry Association. “The cherry industry continues to see strong growth, and developing irrigation infrastructure is going to be key to match the needs of expanding acreage.”
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