Two years after the atmospheric rivers of November 2021 led to catastrophic flooding and landslides across southern BC, cutting off farms and communities for weeks, those hit hardest continue to be grateful for the support that helped them get back into production.
A series of roundtables ultimately pegged “extraordinary” losses to agriculture – those not covered by insurance or industry supports – at $285 million. The federal and provincial governments stepped up in February 2022 with the historic $228 million Canada-BC Flood Recovery Program for Food Security.
The federal-provincial program leveraged the federal government’s AgriRecovery framework and Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements (DFA), accelerating the recovery of the Fraser Valley farms that were among those hit hardest by the storms.
“I’ve been treated royally by these people,” says Sumas Prairie pork producer John Guliker.“Once we figured out the ownership structures of our farms and as far as like the eligibility side of it, I’ve been I think I’ve been treated more than fair.”
Guliker has received $2 million in payments to date, supporting his recovery after a devastating loss of livestock as well as his barns and property.
While the provisions of DFA could seem to treat homeowners better than farmers, Ben Brandsema of Nature Glen Dairy in Glen Valley said AgriRecovery helped get his barns back into production and provided $175,000 to reseed his pasture, something he didn’t have the resources to do himself at the time.
“The provincial government treated us very well, getting my barns back into shape, and my land,” he says. “All the land got back into production ASAP.”
This offset the frustrating aspects of DFA, but Brandsema and other producers hope a provincial review of legislation related to emergency preparedness and response will result in a more responsive program when the next disaster strikes.