Some Abbotsford farms are already receiving provincial flood recovery funds, while other applications may take up to a year to complete, Agriculture Minister Lana Popham said during a press conference on Saturday, Feb. 19.
Overall, the farming community’s reaction to the $228-million Canada-BC Flood Recovery for Food Security program has been positive since its announcement two weeks ago, Popham said.
“But we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us. There’s a lot of money to move, and there’s a lot of building to do – I know people are exhausted,” she said. “Spring is coming very quickly.”
The federal and provincial program aims to help restore agricultural land and infrastructure.
Popham said the province is processing individual applications from the owners of approximately 15,000 hectares of impacted farmland,
She couldn’t say how many applications had been received so far, but said those numbers should be coming soon.
Popham said that some farms will not be able to get back into production this year, specifically mentioning the replanting needed on blueberry farms, and livestock operations that require new buildings.
“Some farms may take up to three years,” she said. “There are barns that had significant damage.”
In the meantime, interim payments are being sent as farmers rebuild.
On a positive note, initial assessments of soil contamination on field crops look promising, meaning farmers will likely be able to start growing faster, according to Popham.
Evacuation alerts and orders were sent to some 1,100 farms during the flood events last November, and agricultural losses are estimated to be approximately $285 million.