I want to begin by letting your readers know that your provincial government is working incredibly hard to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. We are in this together and we will get through it together.
I would also like to take this opportunity to respectfully respond to a recent column from the MLA for Cariboo-Chilcotin, Donna Barnett and specifically her comments on ranching. To be clear, a pandemic response is a time to work together, as we have done with ranchers since we formed government in 2017. I want to speak directly to Cariboo ranchers and farmers, and as Minister of Agriculture, let you know the B.C. government is here to help you and your families, and we are so grateful for the work you all do.
I am proud to be part of a government that works closely with your community, be it in times of natural disasters like the flooding events last year and the wildfires in 2017 and 2018, or by funding projects and resources that help individual ranchers prepare for emergencies and adjust their forage and water management in a changing climate. Our support for ranchers extends into every area of your businesses, whether it is helping individuals through animal health-related or dam safety workshops, or silvopasture partnerships and traceability equipment. Our cooperation also extends into larger efforts that promote local and export sales, provide regional climate adaptation strategies, and business risk management programs that protect ranchers’ incomes in times of need. Just like in January this year, when we developed a made-in-B.C. solution to help ranchers and farmers deal with losses due to devastating weather events, pests and extreme market fluctuations with a $9 million boost to the B.C. AgriStability Enhancement Program, that increased the compensation rate from 70% to 80%, resulting in every AgriStability payment in 2019 and 2020 being 14.3% higher.
We’re also working with you to improve things for the years and the generations ahead, with programs that assist with water and irrigation infrastructure, improve forage quality and production, pasture rejuvenation, and promotes and supports the sustainable practices that are representative of the respect B.C. ranchers have for their cattle and the land.
Please reach out to your ministry contacts or AgriServiceBC@gov.bc.ca and 1 888 221-7141 with any questions about your businesses, or for assistance accessing any of the programs and services the B.C. government provides, including those as part of the COVID-19 response.
I’m so proud of Cariboo ranchers and farmers, your can-do perspective and the role you play in feeding British Columbian families and our economy. You are a fundamental part of our food system, and I thank you for helping us all get through this.
Minister of Agriculture