Visits to flooded farms give a “greater sense of loss”: BC Agriculture Minister


Abbotsford, British Columbia — The Federal Minister of Agriculture and state counterparts wept when they heard about the devastation that farmers endured in the recent floods in British Columbia and how the same people found the power to help each other. Said.

Marie-Claude Bibaud joined her local counterpart Lana Pofam on Friday for a tour of the flooded poultry farm before speaking to the media.

“It affected their animals, it affected their own homes, as well as their families and communities,” Bibaud said.

“That is, the whole community was affected. Even if they were directly affected, they are finding the power to help each other. This is very impressive.”

Agricultural Minister Lana Pofam of British Columbia said hearing directly from farmers can make the loss feel stronger.

“And we saw and heard stories from farmers who were still somehow in the midst of this emergency. The losses felt were absolutely serious.”

Together with other politicians, they wore blue coveralls and boots to tour the farm and toured the cleaning process as they moved from barn to barn.

Workers were repairing a barn where the flood line reached about 0.5 meters above the wall.

The chicks that hatched just this week were feeding in a nearby barn that had not been damaged by the flood.

A series of “atmospheric rivers” in mid-November expelled thousands of people from their homes, killing at least four.

Approximately 630,000 chickens, 420 cows and 12,000 pigs were killed in Suma Prairie, and more than 6,000 dairy cows were transported from the affected farms to other farms to protect themselves from floods. rice field.

Pofam said the devastation emphasized the need and importance of a federal partnership to ensure support for farmers who have supported Canadians for years.

Ministers said the visit to the area provided a direct understanding of the situation and priorities.

“We both heard from people who literally stand in the mud their commitment to find a way to fix it and do what they love,” Pofam said.

According to Bibaud, officials had many conversations with farmers and their families, identifying gaps, deciding how to help them in the future, and finding ways to address their most pressing needs.

“Evaluations cannot be done overnight. We will work with the community to provide the support we need,” she said.

Jeff Spitters, the owner of the chicken farm, said he and other farmers he knows are working on rebuilding and reopening.

Spitters’ grandfather moved to Canada and worked as a dairy farmer before his father turned to poultry farming.

“The field is messed up,” he said, referring to the adjacent property. “But this area is the driving force of food for us.”

But farmers in other sectors say there are other issues that can prevent some from returning.

Dairy farmers were already facing a tough future as many farmers were short on animal feed due to the record-breaking summer heat in British Columbia.

Gary Barles, who owns a dairy farm in the Sumas region of Abbotsford, said the combined effects of fire, heat, floods and inflation reduced profit margins.

“The price of hay is high everywhere,” he said. “I thought it was a bit of a bubble, but there will be a serious feed shortage between inflation, rising fertilizer and fuel prices, and supply shortages.”

According to Barles, much of the dairy industry has a lot of debt and the past year has been tough for farmers.

“I could certainly see some people say,” What do you know, I’m rich in stocks and poor in cash, and this is to get out of this racket It’s a good time, “he said.

Sarah Sache, Vice Chairman of the BC Dairy Association, said Baars’ concerns were overseen by her group.

“If they continue in the industry, it will be a turning point for some farms,” ​​she said.

Whether farmers continue or not is likely to depend on what stage of their career they are in, Sash said.

The city of Abbotsford lifted its last evacuation order in the Sumas Prairie area on Friday. This means that everything can go home except for a few real estate owners.

Mayor Henry Brown said residents of the former Lake Sumas area could follow residents of the other three sections of the prairie who were allowed to return home after the floods receded.

Along Nick Wells

Canadian press