B.C. agriculture minister says sector is recovering well on flooding anniversary

The province’s agriculture minister said last November, many B.C. farmers had an “exciting year” as they struggled to recover from catastrophic flooding.

Lana Popham said most dairy and poultry farmers were now “back to normal” and most annual field crops were planted as usual, but the industry was “maintaining confidence” for better weather this year.

The minister said Tuesday that the province will continue to communicate with farmers to find solutions to reduce flood risk in the hard-hit Sumas Prairie and Fraser Valley areas and ensure faster weather in future climate-related disasters. React.

“We know these climate-related extreme weather events are here to stay, so we’re looking for new programs to help fund climate adaptation and mitigation projects,” she stressed in a news conference since a series of so-called atmospherics a year ago. , the river flooded southwestern British Columbia.

About 630,000 chickens, 420 cows and 12,000 pigs died in the Sumas grasslands as rain and floodwaters inundated houses, barns and farmland, washed out highways and caused landslides that killed five people.

At the height of the flooding, more than 1,100 farms were under evacuation orders or on alert, and 150 square kilometers of farmland was inundated. More than 6,000 cows were temporarily moved to different farms to ensure they were protected from flooding.

Cattle breeder Richard Bosma said last November was an exciting time for farmers but the community came together to save as many animals as possible.

“That’s what we do. We take care of our animals, and (we) are happy to do so for all British Columbians,” he said in a news conference.

But Bosma, who works at Vedderlea Farms in Abbotsford, said he was still nervous about winter.

“We’ve had two of these atmospheric rivers in the past week and a half, and I can tell you, it reminds me of some (PTSD) feelings,” he said.

Popham said her department is working to ensure farmers have access to mental health support.

“As people in this valley move into the next round of severe weather, especially in the winter, they need to know that British Columbians will have their back,” Popham said. “The pain is deep, so we want to make sure we’ve got the proper mental health resources in place, and we’re doing that now.”

Flooding across the Fraser Valley into the Inland South is estimated to have cost British Columbia’s agricultural sector an estimated $285 million in damages.

The flooding also “shows that our agriculture and food production sectors can overcome heartbreaking losses,” Popham said. “It is now the responsibility of all of us, as people of British Columbia, to continue to support farmers and support them and buy as much British Columbia as possible.”

—Brieanna Charlebois, Canadian Press

BC Agriculture 2021 Flooding

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