B.C. presses for ranchers to register before wildfires hit

Premises ID helps protect livestock in emergencies, province says

Smoke rises from a wildfire over a hill at Kamloops, B.C. on July 1, 2021, in this screen grab obtained from a social media video. (Nicole Ritter via Reuters)

British Columbia’s provincial ag ministry hopes to shore up ranchers’ participation in the Premises Identification program against the risk of further wildfires this year.

About two-thirds, or 5,200, of B.C.’s non-supply managed livestock producers, and all the supply-managed dairy cattle and poultry premises in the province, are registered in the program, the province said Wednesday.

“We experienced the hottest temperature ever recorded in Canada this week, the forests are dry and the risk of wildfires is very, very real,” Agriculture Minister Lana Popham said in a release.

As of Saturday morning, the province reported 177 active wildfires out of 611 fires so far in 2021. As of Friday morning, neighbouring Alberta reported 31 active wildfires out of 648 so far this year.

“Having a Premises ID helped B.C. ranchers protect their animals during the intense wildfires of 2017 and 2018, and it could help you this year too.”

The province also expects 2021 will likely be the last year participation in the Premises ID program is voluntary.

A new mandatory Premises ID regulation under the province’s Animal Health Act was announced in February and is expected to be in place early next year.

Ranchers who have a Premises ID number “are in a better position to respond to emergencies that could impact them,” the province said.

Those in the program “can be given direct notice of approaching extreme weather events that could threaten their animals and land, and using their Premises ID can make it easier to arrange for access to check on their animals in areas under an evacuation order.”

Producers who haven’t yet opted into the Premises ID program are “encouraged to register land where animals are kept, handled, assembled or disposed of.”

When registration becomes mandatory next year, the province said, it “closes an information gap about where farm animals are located when government agencies and industry need to respond quickly to disease and natural disaster emergencies.”

A mandatory system “will also inform whether some livestock and poultry operations can continue operating during emergencies and strengthen the province’s traceability system,” the province said in February. — Glacier FarmMedia Network

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Dave Bedard

Editor, Daily News, Glacier FarmMedia Network. A Saskatchewan transplant in Winnipeg.

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