Farmers in the Bulkley Valley are getting more support to adapt to climate change.
Following the development of the Bulkley-Nechako & Fraser-Fort George Regional Adaptation Strategies plan the federal government and the Province are investing $300,000 in funding through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP).
Money will go to support projects identified in the plan as key elements in increasing the resilience of local producers.
They will allow farmers respond to four impact areas affecting the region: an increased wildfire risk, increasing variability and shifting crop suitability, warmer and drier summer conditions and changing pest dynamics.
“Our government is proud to stand behind our farmers and ranchers as they respond to changing climate conditions in their regions,” said Marie-Claude Bibeau, federal minister of agriculture and agri-food. “This investment will help producers keep their farming operations strong and ensure Canadians can continue to put good, locally-grown food on their tables for years to come.”
The announcement was made earlier this month.
The Bulkley-Nechako & Fraser-Fort George Regional Adaptation Strategies planning process, was managed by the BC Agriculture & Food Climate Action Initiative (CAI) and began in the summer of 2018.
The aim of the process was to bring together farmers from both regions to work with local governments and provincial and federal agencies in identifying priorities for agricultural adaptation while keeping in mind the unique challenges facing the region.
“B.C. farmers are resilient and used to tackling challenges,” said Lana Popham, B.C.’s minister of agriculture. “Floods, wildfires and shifting weather patterns are too big for one person to handle. I’m proud to support strategies tailored to different regions of the province so that farmers can thrive and British Columbians can continue to enjoy access to fresh, local food. By supporting farmers working to adapt, we are strengthening our economy so that all British Columbians can prosper.”
The support projects will be overseen by a 14-member working group with representatives from the agricultural sector and regional and provincial governments.
Up to six individual projects will be completed in the region by 2023.
The Bulkley-Nechako & Fraser-Fort George Regional Adaptation Strategies plan is the eighth regional plan developed as part of the Regional Adaptation Program delivered by CAP.
“It’s great that government is supporting farmers and ranchers in the Bulkley-Nechako and Fraser-Fort George regional districts in dealing with challenges due to climate change, because it is our new reality,” said Megan D’Arcy, a local farmer and member of the advisory committee for the Bulkley-Nechako & Fraser-Fort George Regional Adaptation Strategies. “Information exchange, increased collaboration and the development of new systems and best management practices will be key to ensuring that the agriculture sector in these two areas remains resilient.”
The total farmland in the Bulkley-Nechako region, the Stikine region and the Fraser-Fort George region in 2016 was more than 330,000 hectares, with the regions employing more than 2,600 people in the agricultural sector (both farm operators and employees) in 2016.
Agriculture in the regions is predominantly focused on cattle, poultry, hay and field crops.
The regions are home to nearly 80,000 cattle and calves, and more than 16,000 hens and chickens.
Other notable crops in the Bulkley-Nechako region include greenhouse flowers and greenhouse vegetables.