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B.C. farmers can now access $80 million draught fund

The province initially granted a one-time funding of $20 million through this program
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B.C. farmers can now access an additional $80 million drought fund through the Agricultural Water Infrastructure Program to improve irrigation efficiency or build infrastructure for better water availability and storage. (BC River Forecast Centre illustration/Lakes District News)

B.C. farmers can now access an additional $80 million drought fund through the Agricultural Water Infrastructure Program to improve irrigation efficiency or build infrastructure for better water availability and storage. These actions will benefit stream flows and fish populations, supporting sustainable food production.

The province initially granted a one-time funding of $20 million through this program which was launched in June 2023.

The program funded 108 projects. These projects range from water storage, such as agricultural dams and dugouts, to improved water-supply systems for irrigation and livestock. It’s expected that the funding will benefit hundreds of more farmers.

“Last year, our province faced an unprecedented lack of rain, and this winter we’re seeing snow levels are at remarkable lows, meaning next summer might be even worse,” said Premier David Eby. “Climate change – and drought in particular – makes it tough to secure water for animals, crops and feed, and it makes food more expensive for everyone.”

Starting from early April, agricultural producers can request funding for smaller on-farm projects through the Beneficial Management Practices program. For larger farm projects and more complex community-based projects, applications will open in May through the Agricultural Water Infrastructure Program.

“To grow healthy crops that can feed our cattle and provide nutritious dairy products for the local communities, dairy farmers require consistent and dependable access to water. We express our gratitude towards the B.C. government for investing in water infrastructure and storage that will boost the availability of water for farmers,” Casey Pruim, BC Dairy Association chair said.

“A healthy ecosystem is hard to maintain without a dependable supply of water. Nature does not always give us enough water when we need it, so we must manage it through storage to create a secure food supply especially in times of drought. This investment goes beyond a benefit to agriculture as the same infrastructure will also reduce the risk of flooding, a benefit to all British Columbians,” Werner Stump, BC Cattlemen’s Association vice-president said.

“We are planning for another challenging drought season as we continue to monitor conditions in all parts of the province. This is a significant investment that will help ensure our agricultural producers have access to water when it is needed most, to keep our food production systems sustainable and resilient to climate events,” Nathan Cullen, Minister of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship said.

“Climate change is impacting both water and food security for people in British Columbia, making it challenging for farmers’ livelihoods and affecting local food systems. This is why we’re providing enhanced support to improve on-farm and community water infrastructure so we can grow more food and ensure proper water management during potential floods and drought,” Pam Alexis, Minister of Agriculture and Food said.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Food personnel are collaborating with agricultural sector partners to distribute funding for more extensive strategic projects. These programs are both managed by the Investment Agriculture Foundation of British Columbia. Furthermore, an additional $3 million will be assigned to support regional workshops and on-farm demonstrations through the Agricultural Drought Resource Extension Program.

“Across B.C., farmers and ranchers are experiencing the real challenges and impacts of climate change. By helping our agricultural producers access the tools they need to be more resilient to climate change, we’re building a safer and more resilient future for everyone in our province,” Bowinn Ma, Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness said.



About the Author: Saddman Zaman

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