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B.C. helps farmers prepare for extreme weather

CANADA, May 23 - Farmers and ranchers are being supported with a new round of funding to help strengthen their resilience to wildfires, flooding and extreme heat, and mitigate future climate impacts.  

“Climate change and extreme weather pose an array of challenges for people throughout British Columbia, including our farmers, ranchers and food producers,” said Pam Alexis, Minister of Agriculture and Food. “It is important that we support them with programs like this so they can be more resilient to the impacts of climate change and better protect their livelihoods, while ensuring we have a stable, sustainable food supply.”

The Extreme Weather Preparedness for Agriculture program was launched as a pilot last summer and aims to build a more resilient and sustainable agriculture and food sector by helping prepare for future climate events, such as wildfires, flooding and heatwaves.

In the first year of the program, more than $1.4 million supported 129 projects in the poultry, dairy, beef, tree fruit and berry sectors. One of the primary projects funded was improving barn cooling systems to help keep poultry and cattle safe in the event of extreme heat.

“The welfare of our animals is the number 1 concern for B.C. farmers when we’re faced with extreme weather,” said Mark Siemens, farmer and president, BC Egg Producers Association. “This program supports important projects like improved cooling systems and shade trees that provide a safer space for animals. The poultry sector was hit hard during the 2021 heat dome and flood as our farms had never been tested through these circumstances, and this funding will ensure we’re able to better prepare for and mitigate future extreme weather events.”

For 2023, the program is supporting projects with up to $2.5 million. It is expanding its criteria to include B.C.-licensed apiculture (beekeeping) and aquaculture producers, as well as federally licensed cannabis and hemp producers.

“More than ever, farmers need to be equipped to deal with the kind of extreme weather events that have devastated agricultural production in several regions of the province in recent years,” said Danielle Synotte, executive director, BC Agriculture Council.  “BC Agriculture Council has advocated for more support for industry in this area and is pleased to see this funding is already making a difference for the agriculture sector.”

The program is part of B.C.'s Climate Preparedness and Adaptation Strategy, the Province's plan to help people, communities and businesses work together to be better prepared for the impacts of climate change.

Quick Facts:

  • Applications for the Extreme Weather Preparedness for Agriculture program are open from Tuesday, May 23, until June 14, 2023.
  • Eligible applicants can access up to $35,000 in cost-shared funding per project.
  • New project categories added to the program for this intake include:
    • exterior sprinkler protection for critical infrastructure;
    • flood-resilient apiary (bees) overwintering and equipment storage;
    • improved barn and indoor aquaculture cooling systems; and
    • innovative projects (farmers can propose new concepts for consideration).

Learn More:

To find out more about the Extreme Weather Preparedness for Agriculture funding opportunities, visit:
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/agriculture-seafood/programs/extreme-weather-preparedness

B.C.'s Climate Preparedness and Adaptation Strategy outlines four pathways to help ensure people stay safe and to help prepare for a changing climate: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/climate-change/adaptation/cpas

For resources to help prepare for wildfire season, visit: https://firesmartbc.ca

For resources specific to farmers and ranchers, visit: 
https://firesmartbc.ca/farm-and-ranch-wildfire-preparedness/