At the wildfires’ peak, local volunteers helped move and host livestock in secure locations. Cheri Saunders photo.

Governments consider help for B.C. ranchers, farmers

Assessments being conducted on what is needed for agriculture sector

Ranchers and farmers may soon see some relief in what has been B.C.’s worst fire season on record.

The British Columbian and Canadian government are working together to determine what kinds of assistance can be given to B.C.’s agriculture sector.

Assistance is being considered to help farmers and ranchers with anything from animal health and safety; feed, shelter and transportation; and re-establishing crop and pasture production damaged by fire.

Federal Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Lawrence MacAulay and B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham met in Victoria to address the issues today, Aug. 16.

MacAulay says that they will work closely with affected producers to assess the full scope of their needs and help them get back in business as quickly as possible.

The two governments are working under the AgriRecovery disaster framework, says a release by the provincial government.

“The AgriRecovery response will help B.C. ranchers and farmers recover from their losses and return to their land and their livelihoods,” says Popham. “The results and spirit of resilience is collective and clear. We will work together to respond to this emergency until the job is done.”

The release comes just over a week after ranchers in the Clinton area called on the provincial government for an apology and compensation after a controlled burn went wrong and jumped Highway 97.

Related: Clinton-area ranchers seek compensation for controlled burn gone wrong

The release states that officials are working together to assess the “extraordinary” costs faced by farmers, as well as looking into what assistance may be required to recover and return to production following the wildfires.

“B.C. ranchers are happy to hear that the two governments are doing the necessary assessments that will be needed to give them a fighting chance to get back into business,” says Kevin Boon, general manager of the BC Cattlemen’s Association.

“These fires have caused unprecedented impacts for not only the cattle industry but for all of the rural communities.”

He urges the governments to do everything possible in their assessment in order to get as much financial support for ranchers as possible.

“While the funds may go towards ranchers rebuilding the infrastructure and supplying feed for their animals, every dollar will be spent in the communities where they live. Those funds will be every bit as important to rebuilding the communities as they are to rebuilding the ranches and helping the B.C. cattle industry to survive.”

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