Options weighed for AgriRecovery in B.C. fire zones

Federal Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay and B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham met Wednesday in Victoria. (Photo courtesy AAFC)

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.

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

Newfoundland and Labrador's Forestry and Agrifoods Agency, which oversees public policy for the province's livestock, crops and agrifood sectors, is under new management. Premier Paul Davis on Thursday appointed provincial Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister Vaughn Granter to added responsibility for the Forestry and Agrifoods Agency. The agency, headquartered in Corner Brook, was set up in 2007 by then-natural resources minister Kathy Dunderdale and has until now been under the Natural Resources department's oversight. However, a spokesperson for the premier's office confirmed Friday by email that the agency's management will now move under the purview of Fisheries and Aquaculture. The agency's role is to develop policy and programs and provide "support functions" to the agriculture, agrifood and forestry industries with an eye on "well-planned, sustainable growth and development and associated economic and employment opportunities." Such programs include the federal/provincial AgriInsurance plan, Environmental Farm Planning and the Agriculture and Agrifoods Development Fund, among others. The agency also oversees livestock veterinary services, lab analyses for animal diagnostics and food safety, food quality, animal disease monitoring, and control of "heritage animals." The agency's offices also handle licensing and permitting relating to protecting livestock from predators; big game distribution, export and transport; destruction of "problem animals;" and timber cutting, exports and sawmilling, as well as grants for groups such as 4-H and the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Agriculture. Combining agriculture and fisheries under the same minister's oversight is not new at the provincial level in Canada. Quebec and New Brunswick today operate joint agriculture and fisheries ministries, while in British Columbia, commercial fishery and aquaculture programs are overseen by the ag ministry. -- AGCanada.com Network  

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