Source: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
As British Columbians continue to experience the impacts of record drought and wildfire, B.C. farmers and ranchers are receiving support so they can continue to produce food in a changing climate.
The Regional Extension Program is supporting regional projects focussing on research, knowledge transfer and new technologies. Funded by the governments of Canada and British Columbia, the goal of the program is to ensure healthy soils and ecosystems in agricultural communities while also helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for and mitigate the impacts of drought, wildfire, flooding and extreme temperatures.
The program funds activities like knowledge transfer events, data sharing, on-farm demonstrations, workshops and webinars that highlight best practices and the latest research and technologies to support sustainable agriculture. There are 16 projects underway, with more to be started in the coming months.
Several projects focus on helping regions prepare for and adapt to drought. In drought-affected regions of B.C., workshops are being offered to give farmers the information they need so they can be better prepared and implement new strategies and best management practices that help them adapt to the impacts of climate change.
Other projects include workshops and field days on silvopasture for farmers and ranchers so they can learn about and apply new and best management practices that improve water quality and land use planning.
A key feature of this program is the use of local knowledge whereby ministry staff work directly with farmers throughout the province to identify and develop projects that strengthen both climate resilience and food security in communities. Regional engagement sessions will be taking place in November. Interested farmers can call AgriServiceBC at 1-888-221-7141 to find out about activities in their region.
The $1.5 million in funding for the program is from the Province’s CleanBC initiative and the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership (Sustainable CAP). Sustainable CAP is a 5-year (2023–2028) $3.5-billion investment by federal, provincial and territorial governments to strengthen competitiveness, innovation, and resiliency of the agriculture, agri‐food and agri‐based products sector. Sustainable CAP includes $1 billion in federal programs and activities and a $2.5-billion commitment that is cost-shared 60% federally and 40% provincially/territorially for programs that are designed and delivered by provinces and territories.
“Farmers, ranchers, and producers are feeling the impacts of climate change,” said the Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. “Investments in programs like the Regional Extension Program will ensure that farmers across British Columbia have the tools they need to prepare for and mitigate the effects of climate change on their operations. The efforts taken today will support a strong and resilient food system for Canadians for years to come.”
– The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
“Climate change is creating more challenges for our farmers, ranchers and food producers, and we’re seeing the impacts of these extreme weather events in our communities,” said Pam Alexis, Minister of Agriculture and Food. “We’re proactively helping producers so they can better prepare for, adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change. This will help them build more resilient and sustainable practices so they can better protect their farms and livestock, and ensure our food supply is stable now and, in the future.”
– Pam Alexis, B.C.’s Minister of Agriculture and Food
“Since 2017 we have worked together with the Ministry of Agriculture, BC Wildfire Service, and the Ministry of Forest to use our livestock to graze fine fuels in interface areas so we can reduce the risk of fire impacting significant infrastructure. Over this time, significant data has been collected and we are looking forward to using the knowledge we have gained from these pilots. Developing a set of best management practices gives us an important tool to help manage our livestock and reduce the risk of wildfires, which is a win for everyone.”
– Kevin Boon, general manager, BC Cattlemen’s Association
“Supporting sustainable farming practices like cover crop management is important for B.C.’s grape growers and, in turn, B.C.’s wine sector. I was pleased to be able to present observations from different wine growth stages during field day events for growers in the Okanagan which will help them prepare for climate impacts in the next growing season and beyond.”
– Ruth King, program manager, Sustainable Winegrowing BC
“This program has allowed farmers to better manage their irrigation practices and overall operational system efficiencies. The comprehensive monitoring network will continue to improve our understanding of the timing of river flows and appropriate quality water as we adapt to changes in weather patterns. The real-time information not only helps farmers take direct action but provides valuable data on the fluctuations of the environment.”
– Leisa Yee, administrator, Delta Farmers’ Institute