B.C. farmers hit hard by a challenging 2018 now have a bit of stability.
Newly appointed federal agricultural minister Marie-Claude Bibeau – in her first order of business since being named the first-ever woman agriculture minister in a small cabinet shuffle by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a week ago – announced that Canada and B.C. have triggered the late participation mechanism under the AgriStability program for 2018 to help farmers access needed support to deal with income losses.
Bibeau, who hails from the rural Quebec riding of Compton-Stanstead, made the announcement at Ira and Noreen French’s Vernon dairy farm on Commonage Road Monday morning.
The new feature, under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, means hundreds of additional farmers and ranchers from B.C. will be eligible to join and benefit from the program. The feature can be triggered by governments in situations where there is a significant income decline in the farm sector and a gap in program participation.
Many B.C. producers faced financial challenges last year due to significant production and market losses.
“Our government recognizes that many B.C. farmers and ranchers are facing financial hardship caused by extreme weather events and poor market prices,” said Bibeau, sheltered from a bitterly cold wind blowing across the Commonage by the French’s hay barn.
“The AgriStability late participation feature will help more farmers access the support they need to cope with income shortfalls. We encourage B.C. farmers to take full advantage of all available business risk management programs.”
The late participation measure is in addition to previously announced assistance by the Liberals in October under the AgriRecovery disaster framework that provided $5 million to help the province’s agriculture sector recover from losses due to the 2018 wildfires, which consumed 1.3 million hectares of land, surpassing 2017’s record damage year.
B.C. agriculture minister Lana Popham said adjusting the AgriStability program to help more B.C. producers whose income declined in 2018 offers support to those farmers, the communities they’re part of and agriculture in B.C.
“B.C. ranchers and farmers work hard to support our province’s food supply and economy, and when they experience extreme hardship such as the last two years, they need our help,” said Popham.
Canadian Cattlemen’s Association president Dave Haywood-Farmer of Kamloops was delighted with the announcement.
“Today’s announcement will benefit more B.C. producers and farmers who were impacted by the fires in 2018 which, unfortunately, are becoming a regular occurrence in B.C. during the summer months,” said Haywood-Farmer. “It’s also a good example of the diversity of conditions that can impact Canadian beef industries in any given year.”
Bibeau continued her tour with a stop in Kelowna Monday afternoon. She’ll visit Calgary Tuesday and wraps up her Western Canadian tour in Winnipeg Wednesday.