HomeNewsProvincial“We are heading into a challenging year,” BC Agriculture council director says

“We are heading into a challenging year,” BC Agriculture council director says

With summer a month away, a member of the BC Agriculture Council says producers are heading into a very challenging year.

The BC Agriculture Council is made up of 30 commodity groups, ranging from apple farms to turkey, focusing on growing a strong and sustainable agriculture sector in BC through industry consensus and public policies.

With the River Forecast Centre’s snowpack bulletin showing the overall snowpack level to be 63 percent of normal, drought conditions are expected to pop up again this year.

Director of policy for the council Paul Price says producers are bracing themselves for the worst.

“We’ve had successive years of drought now since 2021,” said Price. “One very dry year is something you can take with stride but two, three, four successive years of really bad drought has a compounding impact.”

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Price says some producers have used different ways to cope with the situation, with cattle ranchers cutting herd sizes by selling off the animals, while others are investing in optimizing their irrigation systems.

Last year the province invested $20 million in the Agriculture Water Infrastructure program, a program that would give producers, conservation groups, and indigenous communities access to invest in water infrastructure.

Despite another $83 million invested this year, he says they won’t see benefits right away.

“This program does allow us to make water storage but we still need precipitation to fill that storage. You can dig a pit, but you need it to rain to fill that pit,” said Price. “It’s a serious concern as the impacts of climate change, and extreme weather events appear in a greater frequency.”

Price adds some possible solutions for producers include implementing an agricultural water reserve, compensating producers in the event of an extreme heat incident, and getting an exemption on the insurance premium tax.

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