Marie-Claude Bibeau, federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, and Lana Popham, British Columbia’s Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries held a virtual roundtable with B.C.’s agricultural sector Thursday to listen to their concerns following the devastating floods and landslides and to discuss both immediate and long-term support for the B.C. agriculture and agri-food industry.
Extreme weather events in B.C. have caused many agricultural producers and their families to struggle in extremely challenging circumstances as they deal with the loss of businesses, homes, livestock, crops and livelihoods. With over 800 farms in British Columbia currently under evacuation orders, the ministers recognized the producers’ courage and perseverance and indicated they are working together to make sure that producers have the resources they need to maintain their mental health and help rebuild their operations.
These events are indicative of climate change. As Canada works to meet its climate change goals, it will also work with the sector to ensure that it is better prepared and more resilient when these types of events happen.
The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, and the Premier of British Columbia, John Horgan, recently announced a committee of federal and provincial ministers who will work together and with Indigenous leadership to guide immediate and ongoing support to British Columbia families, businesses, farmers and communities affected by the extreme weather events. The committee will also collaborate on recovery and rebuilding efforts, including by providing support to the sectors that have been most affected by the crisis.
The federal and provincial governments are taking concrete action to respond, including the recent provincial request to launch a joint assessment under the AgriRecovery Framework, which provides federal and provincial funding to help producers recover from natural disasters.
Federal and provincial officials are working with the utmost urgency to complete the joint assessment and help producers with their extraordinary costs. Outreach is already underway to specific provincial commodity groups to determine these costs and replacement values. Programming under AgriRecovery will roll out as soon as those assessments and the program design are completed.
Minister Bibeau also highlighted the work of Canadian Armed Forces personnel, who have been on the ground since mid-November to help farmers rescue livestock, resupply food to isolated communities, help repair critical infrastructure and assist with supply chain movement. The Government of Canada will continue to monitor the situation and will continue working with the province and industry to reduce impacts on food security, local food supply chains, animal welfare, as well as related producer operations.