B.C.’s agricultural producers will have access to a new program to improve water management and supply for both crops and livestock according to a release. This program will help to increase production and food security.
“Access to water is crucial for food production and ensuring we have sustainable, resilient local food systems,” said Pam Alexis, Minister of Agriculture and Food. “The Agricultural Water Infrastructure program will help B.C.’s agricultural communities adapt to climate change effects, like the increased threat of drought, and help grow more food by supporting new and improved water storage and water-supply infrastructure.”
The program will help support better water management using new technology. In water-scarce and drought-prone areas, water can be better managed for agricultural uses.
“B.C. farmers and ranchers understand the necessity of water for food production, and they have invested heavily in the infrastructure required to offer that security to their production systems,” said Kevin Boon, rancher and general manager, BC Cattlemen’s Association. “This investment by the government to help them grow and improve this infrastructure is greatly needed and will help to both strengthen our food security and to take meaningful steps in managing our water supply, which is an important tool in climate adaptation with benefits to the province far beyond just food production.”
Additional water infrastructure support can be considered if there is the potential for expanding farmland or if increasing the water supply will increase agricultural production.
“Water is essential to agricultural production. However, in recent years, multiple regions of British Columbia have experienced adverse climate events that placed considerable stress on supplies of safe, reliable water for farmers at the most critical time of the growing season,” said Jennifer Woike, president, BC Agriculture Council. “Farmers and ranchers are leaders in the efficient management of water resources, and the Agricultural Water Infrastructure program is an important investment in that leadership role.”
The new program, the Agricultural Water Infrastructure program will be a $20 million program open to B.C. farmers, ranchers, agricultural producers, Indigenous communities, Indigenous producers, irrigation, improvement districts local governments and agricultural and conservation groups.
“The Water Supply Association of BC believes the province will benefit greatly from the Agricultural Water Infrastructure program,” Bob Hrasko, chair, Water Supply Association of BC. “With the challenges of extreme weather events, the contamination of soils in other countries and an uncertain food supply and future, there are wants and needs by all communities. Agriculture is a critical need at the top of the list. Clean water, clean soils and high-quality food have a positive ripple effect through a community, and this program will help achieve these for future generations.”
Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC (IAF) is administering the program.
“IAF has experienced fantastic response to the current food-security programs,” said Jack DeWit, chair, IAF. “Water management and supply is vital on B.C.’s farms. We will effectively deliver these key projects to ensure B.C. farmers and ranchers have the tools they need in a changing environment.”
“The BC Cherry Association is very pleased to see this investment into irrigation infrastructure,” Sukhpaul Bal, farmer and president, BC Cherry Association. “The tree-fruit industry began with the pioneers diverting water from the nearby hills, and we continue to rely on this precious resource. The cherry industry continues to see strong growth, and developing irrigation infrastructure is going to be key to match the needs of expanding acreage.”
For more information: https://www.iafbc.ca/awi