Farmers and ranchers throughout B.C. are facing an unprecedented crisis this year. Livestock operations that have been in families for generations are at risk due to a severe feed shortage brought on by climate disasters and a lack of government support to aid in recovery from those events.
Years of wildfires, droughts and floods have decimated pastures in the lead-up to this year, where we are experiencing a serious hay shortage.
As a result, an alarmingly high percentage of cattle ranchers in B.C. are considering selling their herds entirely. Tragically, for many families who have relied on agriculture for decades, the prospect of losing their livelihoods is becoming all too real.
We have to realize that this is not just a devastating issue only for those who work in agriculture — this crisis has serious implications for food security in our province. Ranchers are now being faced with the difficult decision of selling the very cows that would have borne next year’s calves, further exacerbating the problem. Additionally, crop failures due to the drought are adding further stress and uncertainty about the future viability of food production in B.C.
Agricultural stakeholders and our BC United Caucus have been calling on the NDP government and Agriculture Minister Pam Alexis to step up and provide real support to ranchers and farmers. Unfortunately, up to this point, the only noticeable action government has taken is to setup a hotline for support and provide $150,000 to the BC Cattlemen’s Association to support the Access to Feed program.
Anyone who has even the most basic knowledge of ranching knows that $150,000 is barely enough to keep one herd fed for the winter — let alone the hundreds around the province that are at risk due to feed shortages and escalating costs.
It’s clear the NDP have much more work to do to support our agricultural producers through what will surely be a challenging year ahead. Swift and decisive measures are essential to safeguard both the livelihoods of ranchers and the province’s food security.