AgriRecovery in place for farms in B.C. wildfire zones

Horses that escaped from an enclosure onto a road near an RCMP checkpoint in an evacuated zone at Williams Lake are calmed and walked to safety on July 17. (

Farmers and ranchers whose operations were hit or evacuated during British Columbia’s particularly destructive wildfire season can expect up to $20 million in AgriRecovery funds toward repair, rebuilding and livestock feeding costs.

The federal and B.C. governments on Tuesday laid out more details for the 60-40 cost-shared program, which was announced in principle in mid-August.

AgriRecovery is the disaster relief arm of Growing Forward 2, the federal/provincial ag policy funding framework, with programming rolled out on an as-needed basis to help producers recover from specific natural disasters.

Through the new program, dubbed the 2017 Canada-British Columbia Wildfires Recovery Initiative, affected producers can seek funding to help cover “extraordinary costs” incurred during and following the damaging fire season in the province’s Interior.

Eligible costs include re-establishing “safe winter feeding facilities” and “general cleanup” on affected ranches, to be covered for up to $80 per head.

The program is also expected to cover up to 70 per cent of “extraordinary feed costs,” including transportation to feed livestock through the recovery period, and 70 per cent of the costs for veterinary, mustering and transportation services and rental of temporary production facilities.

Up to 70 per cent of the market value of breeding animals for mortality will also be covered, the governments said Tuesday.

Affected crop and forage producers can seek up to 70 per cent of the “extraordinary” costs to return to normal crop production, including repair of “critical” infrastructure not covered by insurance; labour costs to repair private fences; and re-seeding and re-establishment costs for any tame forage or other perennial crops damaged by fires.

Industry organizations supporting producers in the affected areas can also seek up to 70 per cent of extraordinary costs they incur that aren’t paid by another agency or government department.

Federal and provincial officials said Tuesday they’ll continue to work with industry in coming weeks on the program’s specifics, “to ensure that it meets producers’ needs, while being delivered in a simple and timely manner.”

Producers and industry groups needing more information on the initiative are asked to call 1-888-332-3352.

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham said Tuesday the program “is the result of listening to the needs of B.C’.s farmers and ranchers and supporting them as they start rebuilding their lives and recovering from the significant losses brought on by this summer’s wildfires.”

The province, she said, is “committed to ensuring British Columbians have the tools and resources at hand to return to their land and their livelihoods.” — Network

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