This week may have marked the official start of summer, but for many growers, cool damp weather continues to delay crops in sharp contrast to 2021 when the end of June brought scorching temperatures and dramatic wildfires.
This year, berry and cherry growers are reporting harvest delays of 10 to 14 days. While the spring freshet is allegedly at its peak, cool temperatures could keep it going well into July.
Nevertheless, the province released a $513 million climate preparedness and adaptation strategy this week to address “the impacts of wildfires, flooding and extreme heat.”
To support agricultural producers, the strategy invests $11 million in weather monitoring networks, extreme weather preparedness and water infrastructure.
The funding will support work with agricultural producers and experts to prototype and test a customized decision support tool to help use water for irrigation and crop growth more efficiently.
The funding for extreme weather preparedness will support farm-level climate risk assessments and the adoption of practices that reduce a farm’s vulnerabilities to extreme heat, wildfires and flooding.
An ongoing Agricultural Water Infrastructure Program will help agricultural producers capture peak spring waterflows for use later in the summer when demand is highest.
“The program will further evaluate climate impacts and the need for expanded water infrastructure at both a community and farm level,” the strategy says.
The strategy is short on specifics, particularly with respect to other regulatory initiatives that are impacting agricultural access to water such as the province’s policy on dugouts that assumes they’re fed by groundwater unless lined.
The province’s stance has been a bone of contention for the BC Cattlemen’s Association, which again voiced disappointment with the policy at its recent annual general meeting.
BC Cattlemen’s have also heard of cases where farmers struggle to obtain permits to complete projects aimed at improving watercourse stewardship.
A framework is also being developed to address provincial food security. An initiative of several ministries, the framework is expected to be ready next year.