Farmers from helping farmers evacuate cattle from a flooded farm on the Interprovincial Highway near No. 3 Road, in Abbotsford on Nov. 17, 2021. (Chris Kloot file photo)

Farmers from helping farmers evacuate cattle from a flooded farm on the Interprovincial Highway near No. 3 Road, in Abbotsford on Nov. 17, 2021. (Chris Kloot file photo)

Emergency feed program offers immediate help for B.C.’s flooded livestock producers

$1M in funding from Emergency Management BC earmarked to cover hay, forage

Commercial livestock producers impacted by flooding can take heart knowing that funding isavailable to help them replace feed that was lost or spoiled in recent events.

The Emergency Flood Forage Program is providing up to $1 million in funding from Emergency Management BC to help fill the urgent need for hay and forage.

Chilliwack dairy farmer and city councillor Chris Kloot called it a “welcome announcement,” especially for struggling producers of the Fraser Valley or Interior who’ve suffered damage and lost animals, to figure out their next steps.

“Without a doubt this will be helpful,” Kloot said, giving credit to the minister of Agriculture for her boots-on-the-ground approach to staying in close contact with and debriefing local officials.

Many livestock operations will be dealing with spoiled or damaged feed that was meant to last them the winter.

“This will be reassuring to many, knowing they are not in this alone,” Kloot said. At least two dairy farms in Yarrow were under water and lost feed, the Chilliwack city councillor said, but it’s hard to say how many producers will apply for this emergency funding.

The B.C. government is working with the BC Cattlemen’s Association and the B.C. Forage Council to deliver the feed program with the goal of getting producers up and running again as quickly as possible.

Many farm operators had their hay and forage supplies already impacted by events in the summer of 2021, including the blistering heat and drought, as well as wildfires.

“B.C. livestock producers are resilient by nature, but we recognize what a challenging year it’s been for them as they’ve had to recover from the heat dome, wildfires and now floods,” said Agriculture Minister Lana Popham. “This program will help ensure livestock producers in B.C. can take care of their animals with enough hay and forage to fill an immediate need.”

The flooding affected a “significant number” of commercial livestock operations in the Fraser Valley and Interior regions of B.C. but it’s hard to quantify at this point.

“With the devastation that the livestock sector has experienced this year, it is critical for producers to have the required feed they need to get through this challenging time and maintain livestock health,” said Garth Healey, Fraser Valley director, B.C. Forage Council. “We are pleased that the province is providing the funding for this much-needed program and that the B.C. Forage Council can contribute to the emergency response in a meaningful way.”

Livestock producers in flooded areas have lost their supply or had to use hay they had stored for the winter due to the emergency.

“So it is extremely important to us to work together with government to address the needs of the ranchers and farmers who have been hit hard by these events,” said Kevin Boon, general manager, BC Cattlemen’s Association.

“The fires showed us the importance of getting feed to producers whose animals have been cut off from their normal feed supplies as soon as possible. Animal welfare is a top priority for our ranchers, and we welcome the adoption of the emergency feed program for the floods so that we can ensure that the livestock’s needs are looked after.”

Eligible producers can contact one of the program partners to complete an application:

*B.C. Forage Council: hay@bcforagecouncil.com

*BC Cattlemen’s Association: hay@cattlemen.bc.ca

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