ABBOTSFORD, BC – The Federal Minister of Agriculture and his provincial colleague shed tears when they heard about the devastation suffered by farmers in the recent floods in British Columbia and how those people found the strength to help each other. they said.
On Friday, Marie-Claude Bibeau, along with her county colleague Lana Popham, visited a flooded poultry farm before speaking to the media.
“It affected their animals, it affected their home, their family and their community,” Bibeau said.
“So it has affected the whole community, and even if they have a direct impact, they find the strength to help each other. It’s very impressive.”
BC Agriculture Minister Lana Popham said it provides more information about hearing loss directly from farmers.
“And we’ve seen and heard stories from farmers in the middle of this emergency. The loss inflicted is absolutely profound.”
The couple, along with other politicians, walked around the farm wearing blue overalls and boots, moving from warehouse to warehouse and doing cleaning work.
Workers were repairing the warehouses, where the floodwaters had reached up to half a meter from the walls.
The chicks that came out this week were grazing in a nearby barn that was not damaged by the floods.
In mid-November, a series of “atmospheric rivers” forced thousands of people to flee their homes, killing at least four people.
About 630,000 chickens, 420 cattle and 12,000 pigs were killed in the Sumas desert, and more than 6,000 dairy cows were evacuated from affected farms to prevent flooding.
Popham said the devastation underscored the need and importance of federal cooperation to support farmers who have been feeding Canadians for years.
The ministers said the visit gave them a direct insight into the situation and priorities.
“We’ve both heard the commitment from people who are literally drowning in mud that they want to find a way to fix it and do what they love,” Popham said.
According to Bibeau, officials have conducted many interviews with farmers and their families to identify gaps and find ways to address the most urgent needs to determine how to help in the future.
“Assessment, we can’t do it overnight, we will continue to work with the community to provide the support we need,” he said.
Chicken farm owner Jeff Spitters says he and other farmers he knows are committed to rebuilding and reopening.
Spitters ’grandfather moved to Canada and worked as a dairy farmer until his father moved into the poultry industry.
“The fields are confusing,” he said, pointing to neighboring properties. “But this area is a food powerhouse for us.”
However, farmers in other sectors say there are other problems that are preventing some from returning.
Dairy farmers were already facing a difficult future, as many had short food stocks for their animals due to record-breaking heat waves in the summer.
Gary Baars, owner of a dairy farm in Abbotsford’s Sumas area, said the combined effects of fires, heat, flooding and inflation have reduced profit margins.
“Hay prices are high everywhere,” he said. “I thought it was a bit of a bubble, but there will be a serious food shortage between inflation, rising fertilizer and fuel prices, and a lack of supply.”
Baars noted that many in the dairy industry have high debts and last year was difficult for farmers.
“I saw clearly that some people would say,‘ You know, I’m rich and poor in cash, and this is a good time to get rid of the rocket, ’” he said.
Sara Sache, vice president of the BC Dairy Association, said the Baars ’concern is something his group is watching.
“If they continue in the industry, it will be a turning point for some farms,” he said.
The continuation of farmers will depend on what stage of their careers they are at, Sache said.
The city of Abbotsford on Friday revoked a final evacuation order for the Sumas Prairie area, meaning multiple property owners could return home.
According to Mayor Henry Brown, residents of the area, which was once Lake Sumas, can now follow those who were allowed to return to their homes after the floods in three more parts of Prairie ended.
by Nik Wells