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Gov'ts announce funding for farmers

'Something's better than nothing' says Peter Guichon; industry hit hard by last year's disastrous fall weather

Federal and provincial agriculture ministers were at a Ladner farm Tuesday morning to announce funding to help some B.C. farmers recover after last year's disastrous fall.

Federal minister of agriculture Gerry Ritz and Don McRae, B.C. minister of agriculture, announced up to $5 million for two new AgriRecovery initiatives aimed at B.C. vegetable, cattle and bison producers.

The 2011 Canada-B.C. Excess Moisture Initiative includes $175 per acre for potato and vegetable growers in the Lower Mainland and on Vancouver Island that were impacted by last fall's excessive rains.

Torrential rainfall throughout September left many farmers unable to harvest crops from satu-rated fields.

The funding can be used to help with the cost of restoring water-damaged cropland as well as the disposal of spoiled product in storage and the cleaning and disinfecting of storage facilities.

"B.C. growers and cattlemen are working hard to rebuild after damage caused by extreme weather last fall and into this spring, including flooding, drought and wildfires," Ritz said. "Our governments are working together to ensure vegetable and livestock producers can deal with the prolonged impacts of these events and get back to what they do best - deliver top quality products to consumers here in Canada and around the world."

Many local farmers were left in financial dire straits after last fall's flooding.

Some did have crop insurance, however that only covers 30 per cent of the farmer's input costs.

"The province is committed to working with the federal government to ensure B.C.'s farming and ranching families have access to programs that protect them from economic hardship due to adverse weather conditions like flooding and drought," McRae said.

While glad to see some assistance from the two levels of government, some farmers were saying it's not enough.

"We were hoping for something," said longtime farmer Peter Guichon following the announcement. "I think we thought it might be a little more than that, but, having said that, something's better than nothing."

Guichon added that farmers were happy to see government listening to farmers.

"Anything above nothing is helpful," said Delta councillor, and farmer, Ian Paton, adding that the funding is based on the number of acres being planted this year.

"In the big scheme of things, in government now a days we deal in billions of dollars with different things and $5 million is pretty small potatoes, to put it that way. I don't want to be critical of the federal government but $175 an acre couldn't even buy you a ton of fertilizer."