Last week Delta’s Agricultural Advisory Committee (AAC), met for its regularly scheduled meeting. As usual, there were several items of interest on the agenda for my colleagues and I to discuss.
Perhaps the most important and timely was an update from Suman Shergill, Delta’s Manager of Utilities, Engineering. The update was given to advise the AAC on impacts of the “atmospheric river” event of Nov. 14 to 16. Delta came out of the event relatively unscathed. This was not necessarily luck per se, but rather, an indication of the good work Delta’s engineering department has done over the years to manage a complex network of drainage and irrigation ditches and accompanying pump-stations. Several farmers around the table commended Delta for its good work to keep farming alive and well locally.
The AAC is also engaged in ongoing special meetings to work with a consultant who is revising Delta’s agricultural plan. Last published in 2011, the agricultural plan needs to be revised to address aspects of climate change including sea level rise, salinity, dike infrastructure, education and several other items.
Although we survived recent weather events, we must remain diligent in our efforts to plan for what Mother Nature may have in store for us in the future. Neighbouring communities up the valley and elsewhere obviously did not fare as well as we did.
It was absolutely heartbreaking to see the devastation to homes and farms in the Abbotsford, Merritt and Sumas prairie regions.
Delta South MLA and Liberal Agriculture critic Ian Paton was invited to tour the affected areas by Agriculture Minister Lana Popham, a gesture that rightly took politics out of the equation. Paton has been rallying to provide feed for displaced animals, and the farming community has taken Herculean measures to support each other.
Popham gave an update this past Friday and although thousands of animals died, 97 per cent of laying hens survived as did 98 per cent of dairy cows. Popham noted that “this is really due to farmers working together and communities making sure that they had these farmers’ backs.”
Farmers are generally stoic by nature. They quietly go about their business and work long hard hours making sure that we have food on our tables. The business is fraught with pitfalls through all farming sectors, yet they battle logistical and policy issues, financial burdens and barriers, and of course, Mother Nature.
I have seen the support that farmers share for each other and I am proud to know many of them in our community who have supported my educational programming over the years.
At this time of year when we are sharing good will and joy with our family, friends and loved ones, I would ask that we all take a moment to reflect on how important farming is. I put a cowbell on the tree this year to show my solidarity.Merry Christmas to all, but especially to the farming community!