This week’s budget delivered a big boost to the BC Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries.
An extra $8 million was allocated to the ministry, an 8% increase from a year ago. The ministry budget now exceeds $107 million.
The increase benefits two key areas, with the largest tranche of additional funding supporting the large category of what’s known as “agriculture resources.” The category includes business risk management programs, marketing, sector development and climate adaptation, including agritech. These initiatives will benefit from an additional $5 million in funding in the coming fiscal year.
A provincial press release indicates that this is the fist instalment in $15 million to be spent over three years through the Beneficial Management Practices program to help farms upgrade to sustainable and climate-resilient agriculture practices.
An additional $3 million will support science, policy and inspection. These activities include the development of policies governing agriculture, services of the animal and plant health labs (shuttered by last fall’s flooding), the meat inspection regime and oversight of farm workers.
The budget does not increase allocations for Production Insurance, even with last year at $13.2 million, or the Agricultural Land Commission, which remains steady at $5 million. Funding of the BC Farm Industry Review Board is also unchanged at $1.4 million.
Since the BC NDP were elected in 2017, the province’s agriculture budget has grown steadily. Five years ago, ministry allocations totalled $85.2 million. This year’s budget is a 26% increase from 2017/2018.
The spending doesn’t include allocations by other ministries that will benefit agriculture.
This includes the BC Climate Preparedness and Adaptation Strategy, which received $83 million to assist with better forecasting of extreme heat events and flooding as well as supporting floodplain mapping.