The Ministry of Agriculture and Food is working with partners to support B.C. farmers and ranchers who are facing challenges due to the current shortage of hay and feed across Western Canada.
“We are in daily communication with producers impacted by drought, and the main issue we are hearing right now is that some are already having to use their fall and winter feed,” said Pam Alexis, Minister of Agriculture and Food. “We are listening to what farmers and ranchers need most, and in collaboration with BC Cattlemen’s and other partners, we are taking action to help producers on the ground find all available sources of hay for their animals.”
To help farmers and producers get hay and feed, the ministry is funding a new Access to Feed program that will be delivered in partnership with the BC Cattlemen’s Association (BCCA). Through this program, the BCCA will match sellers of hay and feed domestically across Canada and internationally with farmers and producers.
“The agriculture sector is being challenged by this year’s severe drought, which is causing producers to make very difficult decisions,” said Kevin Boon, rancher and general manager, BC Cattlemen’s Association. “For the livestock sector, our biggest concerns are the lack of feed and the welfare of our animals. This is why we’re working together with government on programs that make sense for farmers and ranchers so they can get access to what meets their individual needs and then be able to make the right decisions for the management of their operations. These programs have the opportunity to make a difference for B.C.’s agricultural producers now and in the future.”
Many farmers and ranchers have specific needs when it comes to the type of feed their animals require. The BCCA will collaborate with industry partners and local producers to get the right type of feed to those in need as quickly as possible. Information about sources of feed will be made readily available and BCCA will help to co-ordinate and support feed requests from the other livestock sectors and smaller producers.
“Based on the impacts of the droughts and wildfires B.C. is facing, we know dairy producers in many regions of the province are taking inventory and considering the need to purchase feed,” said Jeremy Dunn, general manager, BC Dairy Association. “We are grateful that the ministry is supporting an Access to Feed program, in conjunction with our colleagues at the BC Cattlemen's Association. We look forward to sharing details of this program with our membership.”
The governments of Canada and B.C. are working together to strengthen existing support programs to help farmers and ranchers with the cost of hay and feed, which is currently higher than usual due to ongoing drought conditions throughout Western Canada. Immediate supports are available through the federal-provincial AgriStability program to help producers with drought or wildfire-related margin declines.
“Help is available for B.C. farmers and ranchers impacted by wildfire and drought through AgriStability,” said Marie-Claude Bibeau, federal Minister of Agriculture and Food. “Those who are not yet participating in the program can still do so to receive financial assistance. The Government of Canada will continue to work closely with the Province to ensure farmers have the support they need to get back to what they do best – producing high-quality food for Canadians.”
Through AgriStability, participants will be contacted about receiving targeted advance payments, starting Friday, July 28, 2023. Approved payments can be in the hands of producers within 10 business days and can help provide the cashflow to cover necessary expenses, including the increased cost of feed and hay.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Food, in collaboration with the federal government, has also acted to ensure that producers who did not enrol in AgriStability by the April 30, 2023, deadline are still eligible for late participation and can receive financial assistance. Producers must have declared farm income for tax purposes to be eligible to enrol in AgriStability.
Additionally, changes to crop insurance have been approved so producers are now able to write off grain and oilseed crops that are being converted into livestock feed in response to the drought conditions.
The ministry continues to offer regional and specialized assistance to any producers in need and those looking for support can call the AgriService BC line at 1 888 221-7141.
B.C. is currently facing a severe drought situation with more than two-thirds of B.C.’s water basins at Drought Level 4 or Drought Level 5. As drought conditions worsen, with unprecedented levels of drought seen in British Columbia this early in the season, people and businesses are urged to prioritize water conservation.
- The Province is providing $150,000 to the BC Cattlemen’s Association to support the Access to Feed program.
- BCCA is engaging with the BC Grain Producers, BC Dairy Association, BC Forage Council and the BC Horse Council to search out feed domestically and internationally.
- To be eligible for all AgriStability programming, producers must have declared farm income for tax purposes.
For more information about the Access to Feed program and other supports offered by the BC Cattlemen’s Association, visit: https://www.cattlemen.bc.ca/
B.C. government drought response: http://www.gov.bc.ca/drought
For emergency preparedness tips and resources specific to farmers and ranchers, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/agriculture-seafood/business-market-development/emergency-management/emergency-preparedness-for-producers
For details about B.C.’s suite of business risk-management programs for farmers, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/agriculture-seafood/programs/agriculture-insurance-and-income-protection-programs
AgriService BC direct access: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/agriservice-bc