The Provincial and Federal Government are assessing the impacts of wildfires on B.C agriculture sector which have devasted the Cariboo-Chilcotin.
“The Federal Government, I was speaking to the Minister (Lawrence MacAulay) yesterday. He absolutely understands the enormity of this issue and he assured me that they will be stepping up to help us,” says B.C Agriculture Minister Lana Popham.
“We are trying to assess the types of needs that farmers and ranchers need looking at their extraordinary cost as they return to their lands and businesses.”
Popham says they have come up with three areas that they believe they will be able to work together on cost sharing which includes:
- costs related to ensuring animal health and safety
- feed, shelter, and transportation costs
- costs to re-establish perennial crop and pasture production damaged by fire.
She says although they are not able to at this time to give a dollar figure, they felt it was important to let ranchers and farmers know that this is happening right now to give them some peace of mind.
“I’ve been in contact with many of the affected ranchers and farmers and they are feeling that although the strain on them is incredible, they have given feedback that they are happy with the response right now and they understand cross Ministry we are doing every thing we can,” Popham explains.
“I can tell you that in Ashcroft a brand new dairy that had moved from the Lower Mainland was set up and was hit by the fires and is completely destroyed. I did have interactions with the dairy owner and given the circumstances where his entire family business has been destroyed, he said that they were happy with the response and they know that we’re going to be there with them in recovery.”
“It’s just amazing that the spirit of these people is still positive and not blameful and I think it’s because they understand it’s all hands on deck.”
The 2017 wildfire season is now the worst record on record for B.C having burned an estimated 894,491 hectares according to Chief Fire Information Officer Kevin Skrepnek. The previous record for hectares burned was in 1958 at 855,000 hectares.