Minister of Agriculture for British Columbia, Lana Popham, says the province is enjoying a relatively good growing season this year, in spite of the disaster that was last summer of forest fires across much of the province and fall flooding in the Fraser Valley.
“When you drive through the Fraser Valley now, you know, I know where the flooding happened. But if you didn’t know that that had happened, you probably wouldn’t have guessed that a disaster had ensued last November,” she shares with Kelvin Heppner in the interview below, recorded at Ag in Motion at Langham, Sask.
While some recovery is happening, it has taken an incredible amount of work — and funding.
Popham says her government has moved about $50 million out to farms over about 400 applications. Farmers are using Agri Recovery funding to rebuild, but it’s a slow process.
“A lot of that has to do with supply chain. And we’re also giving people enough time to really have a proper feel of what has been lost and what can recover,” she says.
There’s learning happening too. Popham says, for example, blueberry fields damaged by flooding have been cut back and allowed to regrow, instead of ripping them out. In some cases, it’s helping those fields re-grow faster than starting from square one, which would take three to four years.
On the livestock side, some barns are being rebuilt not just to sustain flooding, but to deal with more intense heat waves, as well.
“It wasn’t just the flooding that hit us last year, there was intense heat. We’re trying to be more proactive, because we believe that these climate change events are going to continue to happen. And so what can we do to make people more resilient before they do happen? And of course, farmers are, you know, they’re creative. And so they’re coming up with ideas and bringing them forward to us. And we’re trying to find ways to support them financially. And in that regard, and so people have to use their imagination right now.”
Hear the full conversation with Minister Popham, including a discussion on supply of poultry and dairy products, here: