With close to 870,000 hectares burned across BC this year to date, the province has announced $20 million in financial assistance for ranchers and farmers hit by drought and wildfire.
“This year’s drought and fires have been incredibly difficult for many BC ranchers and farmers,” BC agriculture minister Lana Popham said in a statement announcing the funding, noting that the BC government is ready “to help them keep their livelihoods and the province’s food security and economy moving forward.”
But the September 3 announcement came nearly three weeks after Ottawa boosted the federal share of the program to $500 million and marked the smallest aid package among the four western provinces. Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba had their programs ready in early August, anteing $322 million matched by $482.5 million from Ottawa.
The program in BC sees the province stake $8 million and the federal government $12 million towards relief efforts.
BC ranchers can access the 2021 Canada-British Columbia Wildfire and Drought AgriRecovery Initiative to cover costs of reseeding forages and replacing fencing or other uninsurable infrastructure that were destroyed in fires, the province says.
Similar to the province’s $20 million response package in 2017, this year’s relief fund will cover up to 70% of transportation costs to ensure livestock have feed and water, up to $80 per head to re-establish safe winter-feeding facilities and general fire clean up and up to 70% of the market value of breeding animals that perished in wildfires.
New this year, the framework includes funds for beekeepers to cover up to 70% of replacement costs for apiaries and equipment lost in wildfires.
The program does not cover fruit and vegetable growers.
The funding reflects the success of previous rounds of support in helping producers recover, says Kevin Boon, general manager with the BC Cattlemen’s Association.
“The announcement of this comprehensive AgriRecovery program will go a long way to assisting producers in their efforts to re-establish their operations and help them recover from the effects of this year’s debilitating events,” he says.