VICTORIA, B.C. — B.C.’s Ministry of Agriculture and Food is working with the federal government and two associations to assist farmers during this year’s drought.
The ministry is collaborating with the BC Cattlemen’s Association (BCCA), the BC Dairy Association and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food on the new Access to Feed program and the existing AgriStability program to help farmers and ranchers.
Access to Feed, funded by the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture and Food and delivered in partnership with the BCCA, will match hay and feed sellers with farmers and producers.
“The agriculture sector is being challenged by this year’s severe drought, which is causing producers to make very difficult decisions. For the livestock sector, our biggest concerns are the lack of feed and the welfare of our animals,” said Kevin Boon, rancher and general manager of BCCA.
“This is why we’re working together with the government on programs that make sense for farmers and ranchers so they can get access to what meets their individual needs and then be able to make the right decisions for the management of their operations.”
The drought conditions are causing issues mainly with cattle feed, which has ramifications for food security across the province, according to Boon.
In the Peace region, the government of British Columbia says it is a Drought Level 4, meaning adverse impacts are likely.
The BCCA said it’s working with industry partners and local producers to get the correct type of feed to those who need it as quickly as possible.
Information about feed sources will be made available, and the BCCA will assist in coordinating and supporting feed requests.
The B.C. and federal governments are also working to strengthen the existing AgriStability program to help producers with drought or wildfire-related income declines.
“Help is available for B.C. farmers and ranchers impacted by wildfire and drought through AgriStability,” said Marie-Claude Bibeau, federal Minister of Agriculture and Food.
“Those who are not yet participating in the program can still do so to receive financial assistance. The Government of Canada will continue to work closely with the Province to ensure farmers have the support they need to get back to what they do best – producing high-quality food for Canadians.”
Through AgriStability, participants will be contacted about receiving advance payments starting July 28th.
The B.C. Ministry of Agriculture and Food said approved payments will go through within ten business days to assist in covering expenses.
The ministry also worked with the federal government to ensure producers who did not enrol by the April 30th deadline are still eligible.
Producers must have a declared farm income for tax purposes and an income decline to enrol.
Changes to crop insurance have also been approved so producers can write off grain and oilseed crops that are being converted into livestock feed in response to the drought in B.C.
Farmers and ranchers looking for support can call the AgriService BC line at 1-888-7144.