Since becoming Minister of Agriculture and Food, I’ve had the pleasure of talking and meeting with farmers throughout the province.
Recently, I had a wonderful tour in Delta, which included stops at Cropthorne Farm, Barnside Brewing and Fraserland Organics.
Family farms like these are the backbone of our communities, providing delicious food and products for their neighbours and British Columbians alike, while also stimulating the local economy.
But it’s not an easy time to be a farmer.
Despite their resilience and adaptability, they are facing challenges due to a changing climate. We are dealing with serious drought conditions this summer, as well as wildfires, which have resulted in a hay shortage across Western Canada and are impacting some crops.
We’ve been talking to those impacted, listening to their concerns, and we’re taking action. We’ve partnered with the BC Cattlemen’s Association to find available sources of feed and get it to those who need it. Recognizing many farmers and ranchers have specific requirements for their animals, we want to help them get feed that meets their individual situations and allows them to make the best decisions for their operations.
We’re also working with the federal government to strengthen existing programs that help farmers offset increased feed costs, production loss or higher costs of production. Financial assistance is available through the federal-provincial AgriStability program, which also helps with income decline from unforeseen circumstance like drought and wildfires.
Farmers who signed up for AgriStability can receive targeted advance payments within 10 businesses days to help with cashflow needed to cover necessary expenses. Those who aren’t yet participating in the program can still enroll.
Our government recognizes the various challenges B.C.’s agriculture sector is facing, and we are listening so we can provide the right supports. This is why we proactively put $200 million into new programs this year to strengthen food security. This suite of programs will help with growing and producing more local, sustainable and affordable food to feed our communities while also helping to prepare for and mitigate impacts from climate change and disease.
This includes $20 million specifically for water storage and water delivery and $20 million for a crop renewal program which looks at removing and replacing crops with new varieties that are more suitable to regional climates.
In Delta, we’re working with the Delta Farmland and Wildlife Trust to improve soil health, support biodiversity and improve food production in the Fraser River Estuary.
B.C.’s agricultural producers are integral to our food security and my job is to support them. As we move forward, I promise we’ll be with B.C.’s agricultural community every step of the way.