Already, this summer is breaking records. Two-thirds of the province’s water basins are in the top two most serious drought levels, precipitation is rare, and already this year we have surpassed 2017’s record of square kilometres of land burned — second only to 2018, but on track to exceed those levels very soon.
All of these factors have combined to create another crisis impacting our region, a shortage of cattle feed that is putting herds across B.C. at risk. Wildfires and droughts have destroyed thousands of acres of grasslands throughout the province and for many ranchers, there is simply not enough hay to feed their animals. According to some in the industry, B.C. has seen a 50 per cent drop in hay yield.
As a result of the dire situation, many ranchers are choosing to make the difficult decision to sell their animals early, otherwise, they risk letting them starve. It can take generations to build up a herd and so many people being forced to sell their cattle early could have long-lasting consequences for the entire sector.
That’s why my BC United colleagues and I are calling on the NDP government to declare a provincial state of emergency. Not only would this bring greater awareness to these significant issues, but it would also allow farmers and ranchers to access vital federal disaster relief and other agricultural support programs that could provide critical help to their operations. Urgent action must be taken to address this crisis.
In addition to advocating for a provincial state of emergency, there are other actions we can take as a community to address the drought and prevent wildfires. I encourage everyone to limit their water usage wherever possible, and as always, be fire smart. We must stay vigilant, reporting fires when we see them and doing work on our own properties to prevent wildfires.
We all have a responsibility to do our part. I know that Cariboo-Chilcotin is up to the challenge and I will do everything possible to ensure our provincial government is as well.