Federal, provincial governments consider help for farmers after B.C. wildfires

The possible funding could cover costs related re-establishing crops and pastures wiped out by the disaster

Government help may be on the way for farmers and ranchers hard hit by wildfires that have charred more than 8,450 square kilometres of timber, range and farmland in British Columbia.

Federal Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay and B.C. counterpart Lana Popham have met in Victoria.

A news release says they are working quickly to assess the extraordinary costs incurred by B.C.’s food producers.

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Additional assistance is also being considered to help farmers and ranchers return to full production.

The extra help could cover everything from costs related to feeding, sheltering, transporting and ensuring the health of livestock to the expenses of re-establishing crops and pastures wiped out by the fires.

MacAulay says the goal is to get B.C.’s food producers back in business as quickly as possible, and Popham says the AgriRecovery disaster framework, which help agricultural producers recover from natural disasters, can help with that.

Kevin Boon, general manager for the BC Cattlemen’s Association, is pleased the federal and provincial governments are working together to help producers.

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“These fires have caused unprecedented impacts for not only the cattle industry but for all of the rural communities. We urge the governments to do everything possible in their assessment, including looking at the parameters of the program, to get as much financial support as possible into these businesses,” he says.

Boon says money would be spent within fire-ravaged communities, making the funds as important to rural B.C. economies as they are to the farmers and ranchers trying to rebuild.

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