Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Taylor Bachrach is urging the federal government to provide financial assistance to northern B.C. farmers facing crop failures and skyrocketing hay prices as a result of extreme drought conditions this summer.
“Agriculture, especially dairy and beef, is a vital part of our region’s economy,” said Bachrach, who met this morning with dairy farmers in the Bulkley Valley.
“Farmers are seeing the impact of climate change firsthand, and if the federal government doesn’t take significant actions in the coming weeks, we could lose a significant portion of our agricultural capacity. We can’t let that happen.”
Bachrach says with some areas experiencing Level 5 drought conditions, farmers and ranchers north of Williams Lake have seen their crops reduced to as little as 10 per cent of the previous year’s harvest and are having to sell their livestock because they can’t afford to buy enough feed for them. He says that will have longterm effects on the industry.
“I’m very concerned,” said Bachrach. “We’re fortunate to have multi-generation family farms in our region. If we lose them, we lose a vital piece of the fabric of northern B.C., not to mention the impact on food security.”
“The crop failure has made hay prices shoot through the roof. Even if farmers can find hay, the dramatic price increases coupled with high interest rates means they can’t afford it. We need the federal government to bring in direct financial support to help farmers get through an exceptionally difficult set of circumstances.”
The B.C. government on Monday announced details of its Access to Feed program in partnership with the BC Cattlemen’s Association which will provide match sellers of hay domestically across Canada and internationally with B.C. farmers and producers.
“We are in daily communication with producers impacted by drought, and the main issue we are hearing right now is that some are already having to use their fall and winter feed,” said Pam Alexis, B.C's Minister of Agriculture and Food. “We are listening to what farmers and ranchers need most, and in collaboration with BC Cattlemen’s and other partners, we are taking action to help producers on the ground find all available sources of hay for their animals.”
Bachrach is reaching out to northern B.C. mayors this week to create collaborative momentum in the push for more federal aid.