Options weighed for AgriRecovery in B.C. fire zones

Officials in British Columbia are now gauging what sorts of damages and expenses can be covered through an AgriRecovery plan for ranchers and farmers affected by wildfires.

The federal and B.C. governments announced Wednesday they’re “working together to quickly assess the extraordinary costs farmers are incurring and what additional assistance may be required to recover and return to production following the wildfires.”

As of Tuesday, almost 2.24 million acres have burned in over 1,000 fires since the start of the province’s fiscal year on April 1. Over 100 wildfires of various sizes are now considered active, mainly in central and southeastern regions of the province.

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Costs “under consideration” for AgriRecovery compensation may include livestock feed, shelter and transportation, re-establishing cropland and pastures in fire-damaged areas, and costs related to “ensuring animal health and safety.”

Wildfires throughout the province “have caused unprecedented impacts for not only the cattle industry but for all of the rural communities” in affected areas, B.C. Cattlemen’s Association general manager Kevin Boon said in a federal/provincial release.

“We urge the governments to do everything possible in their assessment, including looking at the parameters of the program, to get as much financial support as possible into these businesses.”

Funds will be spent in the communities where producers live, he noted, and “will be every bit as important to rebuilding the communities as they are to rebuilding the ranches and helping the B.C. cattle industry to survive.”

AgriRecovery, the disaster relief arm of the federal/provincial Growing Forward 2 (GF2) ag funding framework, is set up where needed to respond to specific natural disasters and is meant to work in tandem with GF2’s “core” business risk management programs such as AgriStability, AgriInvest and AgriInsurance.

The announcement followed the first meeting Wednesday between Lana Popham, the province’s new agriculture minister, and her federal counterpart Lawrence MacAulay.

An AgriRecovery response, when ready, “will help B.C. ranchers and farmers recover from their losses, and return to their land and their livelihoods,” Popham said in a joint release. — AGCanada.com Network

The B.C. government on Aug. 1 pledged $6.2 million in funding to replace livestock fencing and other Crown range infrastructure destroyed in wildfires. About 100 km of fencing along provincial highways had been reported as damaged or destroyed at that time. (Photo courtesy Province of British Columbia via Flickr)

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