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A year later, BC farm flood rehabilitation is still underway

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A year ago, when a devastating atmospheric river hit the Soumas Prairie in the heart of a farming community in southwestern BC, dairy farmer Richard Bosma began moving his cattle to nearby farms to escape the flooding. I was.

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One of them was in the third trimester of pregnancy and gave birth to a calf within hours of being moved to safety. Bosma named it Miracle.

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This is one of the joyful stories among the many heartbreaks and devastation caused by the heavy rains and floods, the worst agricultural disaster in British Columbia’s history.

Government officials gathered at Bosma’s farm on Tuesday to provide an update on recovery efforts beyond the fateful day of November 15, 2021.

“We know it’s not recovered yet,” said B.C. Agriculture and Food Minister Lana Popham. “Some (farms) were able to recover quickly, while others are still working to get back on track.”

BC Agriculture Minister Lana Popham speaks during a visit to the Abbotsford poultry farm during restoration work late last year.
BC Agriculture Minister Lana Popham speaks during a visit to the Abbotsford poultry farm during restoration work late last year. Photo by Francis Georgian /PNG

Some 630,000 chickens, 420 cattle and 12,000 pigs were flooded after days of heavy rain washed away highways, flooded homes and farmlands, and triggered landslides that killed five people. Died.

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At the peak of the floods, more than 1,100 farms were under evacuation orders or on alert, submerging 150 square kilometers of farmland.

Flooding across the Fraser Valley and into the southern interior is estimated to have caused about $285 million in damage.
Loss to BC’s agricultural sector.

Popham said most dairy and poultry farmers are now “back to normal” and most of their annual crops are back this year, but as the weather improves this fall and winter, the sector is poised to grow. Still “fingers crossed,” he said.

“It was a very emotional time for us when the waters rose on November 15th last year and our animals were in trouble,” Bosma said. “But there was a tremendous stream of support.”

He said the two atmospheric rivers in recent weeks have brought back bad memories of a year ago. “It brought on feelings of PTSD, I can tell you.”

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Aerial view of Abbotsford floods on November 23, 2021.
Aerial view of Abbotsford floods on November 23, 2021. Photo by Felipe Fittipaldi /BC Government

And these rains followed a summer drought and wildfires inland, further straining restoration efforts in Bosma.

He said these weather events have caused prices of the “three F’s of feed, fertilizer and fuel” to skyrocket. These high costs, he said, are only deepening the debt his farm has to bear to weather the storm and try to turn things around.

Dozens of farms are rebuilding and replenishing using the Joint Federal and State Flood Recovery Food Security Program, Popham said, but many farms are far from returning to normal. is acknowledging

More modifications, such as flood protection systems and flood-proof feed containers, will be required in the coming months and years, Popham said.

“Farmers knew it was bad,” Popham said of visiting the dilapidated farm. “I could see it in their faces, I could hear it in their voices. But nothing stopped me from getting the farm up and running as quickly as possible.”

She said the disaster “gives British Columbians a glimpse into the heart of the farming community” and continues to encourage people to continue supporting growers and buying BC.

— Using files from The Canadian Press

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A year later, BC farm flood rehabilitation is still underway

Source link A year later, BC farm flood rehabilitation is still underway

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