In response to the climate emergency, which has seen unprecedented weather events devastate communities in B.C. like never before, the provincial government is taking a step towards supporting farmers in their emergency preparedness. The new program will provide funding to help food producers be more resilient against flooding, fires, and extreme heat events.
The flooding and wildfires of the past two years have seen livestock killed in the hundreds of thousands, as well as the destruction of usable land and processing facilities. To help farmers and ranchers better prepare for future events, the Extreme Weather Preparedness for Agriculture program will support as much as $1.5 million in risk assessments and infrastructure upgrades to farms in the province this year.
“Over the past year, we’ve seen the extreme impacts of climate-related weather events on our farming communities, and we are taking action to support farmers and ranchers with climate-change adaptation tools and projects,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture and Food.
“Agriculture and being able to feed British Columbians is intricately tied to climate change, and by taking increased steps to focus on how we can best prepare for and mitigate future climate impacts, we will be able to better protect the livelihoods of our food producers while strengthening our food security and food economy.”
During the flooding event in November 2021, as well as the 2021 wildfire season, the Highway 8 corridor between Merritt and Spences Bridge was devastated by extreme weather. Formerly prime land for both grazing and growing, it now sits burnt, washed out, and still mostly inaccessible. While supporting the region’s recovery efforts, the Province also hopes to build resilience to future events across B.C.
The funding covers Firesmart infrastructure assessments, as well as retrofits that enhance wildfire safety. The same applies to the level of flood preparedness of a farm’s fuel and feed storage. Funding is also available to mitigate heat stress of both crops and livestock, as well as shading and other heat protection retrofits. Up to $35,000 is available in cost-shared funding.
“It goes without saying that we have experienced some extreme weather in the past, and we will continue to see it in the future,” said Kevin Boon, general manager, BC Cattlemen’s Association.
“The best opportunity we have is to be prepared. An investment in preparedness and sound planning on the landscape is crucial to be able to continue to produce high-quality, affordable food for British Columbia’s consumers and steward the land responsibly while we do so.”
For more information on the new program and funding, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/agriculture-seafood/programs/extreme-weather-preparedness. The current intake is open until August 15, 2022.