Ranchers need help now

Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett’s regular column for the 100 Mile Free Press

We have a government that has no problem telling farmers and ranchers what they can build, where they can build and how they can build on their own land. But when these same farmers and ranchers are in trouble, the government makes itself scarce pretty fast.

Ranchers in Big Creek know this all too well as they continue to struggle to get what was promised to them after the Chilcotin River flooded this summer.

One hundred millimetres of steady rain fell over the course of five days in what officials called a once in a 200-year event.

At the time, I was deeply impressed with the community response as neighbours and strangers came out to help shore-up the flooding.

But now a shortage of feed is a primary concern. This is a time of year when cattle come in from grazing and many of them are pregnant. Without feed, the cattle will have to go up for sale and possibly at a loss. Ranchers need help now.

The hold-up to the recovery response seems to be at the top level with NDP Agriculture Minister Lana Popham, so this week I made a point of raising this during Question Period at the Legislature.

Popham’s response was less than reassuring. She is waiting for joint funding from Ottawa, but seeing as a new federal cabinet won’t even be sworn in until Nov. 20, I’m afraid that the wait might go on.

Only a few months ago NDP Finance Minister declared that she was expected to end the fiscal year with a $1.5 billion surplus.

Surely the provincial government could see its way providing initial assistance where the money is needed most.

We have already lost the forest industry. Do we want to lose our source of food next?

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