B.C. pledges ranching task force, more fencing

The British Columbia government plans to create a new task force in support of the province’s ranching industry and renew a fencing program to keep livestock off roads and railway tracks.

Speaking Friday at the B.C. Cattlemen’s Association’s general meeting in Kamloops, Premier Gordon Campbell said the task force will “address the challenges the ranching industry faces.”

The province said the task force is to be created in consultation with the industry, through the BCCA, and will “bring together key stakeholders with government to advise how policy and regulatory changes can assist the industry through challenging global economic times and into the future.”

The fencing program, to be operated through the provincial transportation and infrastructure department, stems from a campaign pledge during the recent provincial election and is meant to build on a previous three-year, $9 million program that expired in 2007. About 600 km of fencing were built under the previous program, the province said.

However, the province said Friday, an estimated 700 km of outstanding fencing is needed along highway corridors. Campbell’s announcement Friday did not put an exact dollar value or time frame on a new fencing program.

Livestock wandering on highways and in rail corridors pose a “serious safety threat,” and cost ranchers thousands of dollars in avoidable expenses, the province said Monday.

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