by Kerstin Auer —
The provincial government announced in a recent press release that it is making new funding available to support farmers and ranchers become more resilient to flooding, wildfires, and extreme heat. The funding, called the Extreme Weather Preparedness for Agriculture program, made an appearance in 2022 as part of a pilot project, and will now be a permanent fixture to support B.C.’s agricultural sector.
“Climate change and extreme weather pose an array of challenges for people throughout British Columbia, including our farmers, ranchers and food producers,” said Pam Alexis, B.C.’s Minister of Agriculture and Food. “It is important that we support them with programs like this so they can be more resilient to the impacts of climate change and better protect their livelihoods, while ensuring we have a stable, sustainable food supply.”
Local farmers and ranchers certainly have had to deal with extreme weather over the past two years, starting with the heat dome in 2021, followed by wildfires and the 2021 flooding event that wiped out large sections of Highway 8. The Extreme Weather Preparedness for Agriculture program aims to provide funding to help prepare for such future climate events, which are only expected to increase in frequency.
Last year’s pilot project made funding available to the poultry, dairy, beef, tree fruit, and berry sectors with a focus on livestock and keeping it safe with proper barn cooling systems. This year’s funding of up to $2.5 million will include an expansion to B.C. licensed apiculture (beekeeping) and aquaculture producers, as well as federally licensed cannabis and hemp producers.
“More than ever, farmers need to be equipped to deal with the kind of extreme weather events that have devastated agricultural production in several regions of the province in recent years,” said Danielle Synotte, executive director of the BC Agriculture Council. “BC Agriculture Council has advocated for more support for industry in this area and is pleased to see this funding is already making a difference for the agriculture sector.”
Application for funding opened on Tuesday, May 23 and will remain open until June 14, 2023. Eligible applicants can access up to $35,000 cost-shared funding per project, and in addition to last year’s criteria, the following new categories have been added to the program:
- Exterior sprinkler protection for critical infrastructure;
- Flood-resilient apiary (bees) overwintering and equipment storage;
- Improved barn and indoor aquaculture cooling systems; and
- Innovative projects (farmers can propose new concepts for consideration).
Funding is available under three streams of intake – Flooding, Extreme Heat, and Wildfire – and to be eligible for the program, applicants must meet all of the following criteria:
- Must be a B.C. Registered business and a primary production agricultural business
- Must be a taxable entity with GST and business number, or First Nation Band
- Must have their main farmstead in B.C. and file farm income tax
The Flood Preparedness Stream targets farms and ranches at risk of flooding and offers a cost-share of 30 to 80 percent, within the program maximum. Supported projects include well protection, improved storage of fuel, and flood-resilient storage of farm products and feed. The Extreme Heat Preparedness Stream focuses on infrastructure and equipment upgrades for farms most vulnerable to extreme heat events.
Projects can include cooling systems and enhanced watering for livestock, as well as extreme heat protection for horticulture crops and outdoor livestock, all with a cost-share of 20 to 60 percent. The Wildfire Preparedness Stream is offered in BC Wildfire Services and FireSmart. The prerequisite for this stream is an assessment by FireSmart before September 1, 2023 which will determine the eligibility for on-farm projects to address the recommendations of the assessment.
For more information and to access links to the application site, visit https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2023AF0032-000785.