Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC will deliver programs formerly administered by the Climate & Agriculture Initiative of BC, which is winding up its operations after 14 years of service to BC’s farm sector.
Created by the BC Agriculture Council in 2008, CAI has delivered adaptation projects funded through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership on behalf of BCAC subsidiary ARDCorp and IAF for the past four years.
With BCAC stepping away from program delivery last summer, the province made the decision to transfer CAI’s responsibilities to IAF.
“Regarding the decision to transfer responsibilities to IAF, everyone was aware that was going to happen when it had been announced in late summer,” says Rachel Penner, who has handled communications for CAI since 2018. Contracts were transferred from CAI to IAF in January.
CAI director Emily MacNair’s role ends March 31. Three staff members will remain to ensure successful completion of ongoing regional adaptation projects and the transition of Farm Adaptation Innovator Program projects to IAF. The organization will wind up at the end of March 2023.
The abrupt change has raised concerns about knowledge transfer and research extension to agricultural stakeholders. CAI’s website, revamped a year ago after a lengthy consultation process with stakeholders, was deleted immediately.
“We were given less than 24 hours’ notice before the CAI website was taken down and deleted. There are countless groups and partners that used the website as a resource and linked to the different tools,” says Penner, whose contract was set to expire this year. “I received a number of comments from people who wondered what had happened and expressed how valuable the site had been.”
The site was home to nearly 250 documents, including fact sheets, reports, videos and workbooks. IAF says it will ensure all resources will be available on a new site, which will operate under the Climate Change Adaptation Program name.
However, many of the links to the resources the old site hosted are broken.
“I’m worried about the impacts on the user experience. How many people will arrive on the new website through a broken link, get confused, and then just leave?” says Penner.
Duncan Barnett, a rancher and chair of the Climate Change Adaptation Review Committee, hopes for seamless program delivery to farmers and ranchers and ongoing government engagement with producers.
“We are going to lose some key people who have been involved in that program and I really hope that the Ministry of Agriculture people are able to step up and continue to engage producers as well as [CAI] have been,” he says.
IAF referred questions to the BC Ministry of Agriculture and Food, which did not respond to requests for comment prior to publication.