Federal and British Columbia agriculture ministers host roundtable discussion with representatives of the provincial agriculture and agri-food sector
December 3, 2021 – Ottawa, Ontario – Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Marie-Claude Bibeau, federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, and Lana Popham, British Columbia’s Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries held a virtual roundtable with British Columbia’s agricultural sector yesterday to listen to their concerns following the devastating floods and landslides and to discuss both immediate and long-term support for the British Columbia agriculture and agri-food industry.
Extreme weather events in British Columbia have caused many agricultural producers and their families to struggle in extremely challenging circumstances as they deal with the loss of businesses, homes, livestock, crops and livelihoods. With over 800 farms in British Columbia currently under evacuation orders, the ministers recognized the producers’ courage and perseverance and indicated they are working together to make sure that producers have the resources they need to maintain their mental health and help rebuild their operations.
These events are indicative of climate change. As Canada works to meet its climate change goals, it will also work with the sector to ensure that it is better prepared and more resilient when these types of events happen.
The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, and the Premier of British Columbia, John Horgan, recently announced a committee of federal and provincial ministers who will work together and with Indigenous leadership to guide immediate and ongoing support to British Columbia families, businesses, farmers and communities affected by the extreme weather events. The committee will also collaborate on recovery and rebuilding efforts, including by providing support to the sectors that have been most affected by the crisis.
The federal and provincial governments are taking concrete action to respond, including the recent provincial request to launch a joint assessment under the AgriRecovery Framework, which provides federal and provincial funding to help producers recover from natural disasters.
Federal and provincial officials are working with the utmost urgency to complete the joint assessment and help producers with their extraordinary costs. Outreach is already underway to specific provincial commodity groups to determine these costs and replacement values. Programming under AgriRecovery will roll out as soon as those assessments and the program design are completed.
Minister Bibeau also highlighted the work of Canadian Armed Forces personnel, who have been on the ground since mid-November to help farmers rescue livestock, resupply food to isolated communities, help repair critical infrastructure and assist with supply chain movement. The Government of Canada will continue to monitor the situation and will continue working with the province and industry to reduce impacts on food security, local food supply chains, animal welfare, as well as related producer operations.
“It has been inspiring to see farm families, their communities and emergency response forces pull together through this ongoing crisis. This crisis has taken a toll on many farmer’s livelihoods and their mental health, and they need to know we are here for them. Our Government will continue to do whatever we can to support British Columbia farmers and the provincial government with the devastating challenges they face today. Yesterday’s meeting with British Columbia.’s agriculture leaders was an important opportunity for Minister Popham and I to hear directly what we can do together to help address the situation.”
- The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-
“The Government of Canada will continue to aid in the recovery efforts being undertaken by the Province of British Columbia. Providing relief, and recovering from the aftermath of a flood, is a long-term proposition, and we are committed to providing the necessary assistance to get people through this difficult time. My thoughts are with the agricultural producers and all those who have been negatively impacted within the agricultural sector by these recent extreme weather events.”
- The Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of Emergency Preparedness
“Our governments have committed to work together, and listening intently to farmers and producers so we can provide the support needed to help them get back on their feet, with their farms back in production. This includes developing an AgriRecovery program that will be available in the weeks ahead, with its key focus on helping producers through the assessment, recovery and reconstruction phases, so we can get them working, and they can get back to producing the food that British Columbians count on.”
- The Honourable Lana Popham, British Columbia Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries
During a crisis such as this, farmers facing the stress and uncertainty of providing for their families may suffer serious mental health impacts. The Government of Canada is committed to increasing the availability of high-quality mental health services for all individuals in Canada. Support services are available through various resources including:
- Farm Credit Canada’s Rooted in Strength initiative, which raises awareness of mental health warning signs and available resources.
- The Do More Ag Foundation, a not-for-profit organization focusing on mental health in agriculture across Canada.
- Wellness Together Canada, an online mental health and substance use resource portal that provides free, credible information and supports.
Producers have access to a suite of Business Risk Management (BRM) programs to help them manage significant risks that threaten the viability of their farm and are beyond their capacity to manage.
AgriRecovery is a federal-provincial-territorial disaster relief framework intended to work together with the core BRM programs to help agricultural producers recover from natural disasters and helps with the extraordinary costs associated with recovering from disaster events.
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