Harsh weather drove stern words to BC agriculture minister Pam Alexis as she visited the Okanagan last week to meet with grape growers, orchardists and ranchers.
The three sectors have been hit hard in recent months and years by weather-related events. Wine Growers BC is forecasting a 54% decline in grape and wine production this year thanks to an extreme December freeze event. Fruit growers have also been impacted by extreme temperatures that have underscored the need for a recently relaunched provincial replant program.
Beef producers, for their part, are also seeing the impacts of dry conditions that have both reduced forage resources and increased the risk of wildfire.
Alexis met with grape growers and wine industry representatives on June 27, and the following day met with a delegation from the BC Fruit Growers Association where the need for a long-term replant program was emphasized as well as a closer look the supports possible through Production Insurance.
āThe Minister indicated that some of the challenges were common themes from the other stops on her tour,ā says a statement from the BCFGA following a meeting at Goraya Family Farms in Kelowna.
In addition to the farm visit, Alexis also visited the largest pickersā camp in the region, Secrest Hill (formerly Loose Bay), which the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen took over in 2020 and upgraded with $657,000 in provincial funding.
Wine Growers BC says their own requests for support last week fell on sympathetic ears.
The organization says the minister has pledged to pursue federal AgriRecovery support for the sector, but a timeline hasnāt been set for when this might come through.