Around three-quarters of land in Abbotsford is in the Agricultural Land Reserve.

Around three-quarters of land in Abbotsford is in the Agricultural Land Reserve.

Bulkley Valley food producers discuss climate change

Water shortage was a huge issue for attendees.

Local food producers attended a workshop hosted by the B.C. Agriculture & Food Climate Action Initiative (CAI) on Nov. 14 just outside of Telkwa to discuss how climate change has affected the agricultural sector in the Bulkley Valley.

The workshop was the first step in CAI’s plan to develop an agricultural adaptation strategy for the Bulkley-Nechako and Fraser-Fort George regions.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) will provide up to $300,000 in funding for the implementation of the strategy.

Thirty people from various sectors of the food production industry, as well as local government representatives, attended the workshop, CAI project manager for the regional adaptation program in the Bulkley-Nechako/Fraser-Fort George region Samantha Charlton said.

“We had really good participation and enthusiasm in the room,” Charlton said. “A lot of people showed interested in coming back for the next one.”

The next workshop will discuss solutions to issues identified at this meeting.

Cattle producer Janice Tapp said the workshop helped with communication issues among producers and other people in the industry.

“I thought it was really valuable in the fact that it got different types of producers together from market gardening, to greenhouses, to beef producers, etc,” Tapp said. “In talking to each other we found out a lot of our concerns are very similar.”

Like many other attendees, water was a huge concern for Tapp.

Tapp said drought conditions has made it difficult for her ranch to produce forage for their animals.

“With the drought and extra heat that we anticipate in the next number of years, we are going to need to find ways to store water, use water and distribute water,” workshop attendee and beef farmer Rainer Oosterhoff said. “The lack of water cause all kinds of problems.”

Oosterhoff used to be a dairy farmer but switched over to beef farming, in part because with climate change it was becoming difficult to produce high quality feed for his dairy cows.

The next workshop will take place on Feb. 7 in Telkwa.

Anyone interested in attending must can register by contacting Charlton at 778-676-7657 or by emailing her at samantha@bcagclimateaction.ca.