Abbotsfor (with files from Canadian Press/CityNews1130) – Grim Reality.
The damage from the 2021 flooding in Sumas Prairie may be too much for some farmers to recover.
Many are not going to try to rebuild and dry out and will walk away from the farm industry.
Gary Baars, who owns a dairy farm in the Sumas Prairie said he decided to get his cows off his property early after a cousin called about his own flooding experience.
All but one of his cows survived the eventual flooding.
However, Baars said other farmers were already facing a tough future as many had little feed for their animals due to B.C.’s record-breaking heatwaves in the summer.
That, combined with the flooding and inflation, has reduced profit margins, Baars said.
“Hay prices are high everywhere,” he said. “I kept thinking it was a bit of a bubble but between inflation, increased fertilizer and fuel prices and a lack of supply, there’s going to be a serious feed shortage.”
Baars said many in the dairy industry have a lot of debt and this past year has been tough on farmers.
Farms located in high risk areas are not eligible for flood insurance, and many farmers say the repairs not covered are in the millions.
Agriculture Minister Lana Popham has said 628,000 chickens, 420 dairy cattle and roughly 12,000 hogs died in the Sumas Prairie after historic flooding left some properties two and a half metres under water.
More than 6,000 dairy cows were transported from affected farms to others safe from flooding.
In a conversation with Canadian Press, Sarah Sache, vice-chair of the BC Dairy Association, said Baars’ concern is one her group is monitoring.