Funding for farmers announced

Government dollars to help B.C. producers recover from devastating weather

Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and Delta-Richmond East MP Kerry-Lynne Findlay look on as provincial Minister of Agriculture Don McRae announces funding for vegetable and livestock producers affected by extreme weather last harvest season.



Lower Mainland farmers who watched last season’s fall crops rot in soggy fields after record-setting rains are getting some long-awaited financial relief.

The federal and provincial agricultural ministers were in Ladner Tuesday morning (July 12) to announce funding meant to help B.C. farmers recover from the damage caused by extreme weather in 2010 and into the spring of 2011.

Dozens of local growers and politicians gathered at Burr Farms in east Ladner for a press conference in which federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and B.C. Minister of Agriculture Don McRae announced up to $5 million for two new AgriRecovery initiatives to help vegetable, cattle and bison producers struck by disaster.

The Feed Assistance and Pasture Restoration Initiative will help livestock producers affected by drought, flooding and wildfires in Bella Coola, Cariboo-Chilcotin and the Central Interior regions, including $14 per acre to reseed pasture land and $1 per cow for each day the animal was required to be off those pastures.

The Excess Moisture Initiative includes $175 per acre for potato and vegetable producers in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island to assist with the costs of restoring water-damaged crop land.

“This includes a payment for the disposal of products spoiled in storage and the cleaning and disinfecting of equipment and storage bins,” Ritz said.

He said the two levels of government are working together “to ensure these producers get the help they need to keep their land productive and help bolster their bottom line.

“We want to ensure that our B.C. producers can get their businesses back on track for 2011 and beyond.”

McRae noted that vegetable growers in the Fraser Valley and parts of Vancouver Island dealt with “severe and excess moisture problems that left many crops sitting in fields, immersed underwater and unavailable for harvest.

“We, not just in British Columbia, but across Canada want to see B.C. food at our farmer’s markets and our local grocery stores, on our dinner tables and at our restaurants.”

Jack Bates is president of the Canadian Horticultural Council and runs Tecarte Farms, a 450-acre potato, blueberry and dairy operation in South Delta.

“Having lived through the devastation in the potato and vegetable industry last season, I appreciate the efforts put forward by all producers, our associations, and both levels of government which led to today’s announcement of assistance,” he said.

Though met with applause, the $175-per-acre funding announcement left some local growers wanting.

“It was short of our expectations,” said Peter Guichon, who runs South Delta’s Felix Farms, the largest grower of potatoes in the province. He had hoped for $300 or $400 per acre.

“But having said that, something is better than nothing,” he added.

Last season Guichon said he left some 9,000 tons of potatoes in the ground. He calculates he could receive $70,000 for his 400 acres of affected land.

Bill Zylmans, who runs the 500-acre W&A Farms in East Richmond, is a member of the working group that negotiated funding with the government.

“It took a long time, it was a tough road for us to haul,” he said. Farmers had originally hoped for $1,200 per acre to represent losses, he said, but after closer examination and negotiations, that number was brought way down.

“It’s not a lot of money, but it is a token of understanding and every little bit helps. As farmers, we’re in deep problems with finding funding anyway.”

Zylmans estimates he lost $500,000 last season, largely due to unharvested seed potatoes, and is thankful he also grows strawberries and other summer vegetables to hedge his losses.

“The hit was a lot harder for some of these Delta guys who really had everything in potatoes or everything in beans,” he said.

He is scheduled to attend follow up meetings to decide how the money will be divided among affected farmers.

Just Posted

GW Graham whallops Ballenas Whalers in junior football playoff

Logan Buchwitz scored four touchdowns for the Grizzlies in a one-sided 40-0 win.

GW Graham grad Ethan Mastin wins Atlantic University Sport football title

Mastin helped his St. Francis Xavier X-Men top St. Mary’s U in last weekend’s AUS championship game.

Sardis Falcon Nick Butler named to Nissan Titan All-Canadian Team

The receiver is one of 70 high schoolers who will travel to Edmonton during the CFL’s Grey Cup week.

Country talent Petunia returns to Bozzini’s in Chilliwack Saturday

Petunia, performing Nov. 17, is referred to as ‘The Savior of Country Music’

Superstore steps into vacancy left by Sears to help every family celebrate Christmas this year

Ann Davis Transition Society has paired with the grocery giant to host a Christmas drive on Nov. 17

People flocking to Vancouver Island city to see hundreds of sea lions

Each year the combination of Steller and California sea lions take over Cowichan Bay

Protesters confront Environment Minister in B.C.

Protesters wanting more for killer whales confront Catherine McKenna

Humans reshaping evolutionary history of species around the globe: paper

University of British Columbia researcher had the paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society

Toronto ‘carding’ activist Desmond Cole stopped by police in Vancouver

Cole says his experience reveals what daily life is like for black and Indigenous residents

Tubing, skating, light display part of new winter festival in Vancouver

Set to open Nov. 23, the six-week festival will take over Vancouver’s Concord Pacific Centre

Commercial trucks banned from left lane of Coquihalla

B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation has introduced a new program that hopes to prevent accidents and closures on the Coquihalla Highway.

B.C. on track to record same number of overdose deaths as last year

128 people died of overdoses in September, bringing the total to more than 1,100 so far in 2018

B.C. firefighters rescue horse stuck in mud

‘It happens more often than you’d think,’ says deputy chief

Regulatory confusion over ‘toxic’ stink near Abbotsford school

Officials sniffing out which regulators responsible for enforcing compliance at neighbouring property

Most Read