Local farmers and ranchers will have a chance to learn about a new provincially funded program that can help them recover from this summer’s devastating wildfires on Feb. 2.
Following a year that saw farms and ranches in British Columbia affected by wildfire, flooding, invasive species and winter freeze, the provincial government has made special provisions to help producers suffering income declines in 2017.
Farmers and ranchers across B.C. can recover some of their lost income through the Province’s new AgriStability Enhancement Program (AEP).
“B.C.’s agriculture community saw a number of setbacks this year, and our government is helping farmers and ranchers with the difficult circumstances they’re facing,” says provincial agriculture minister Lana Popham.
“This program will support agricultural producers who lost income due to circumstances beyond their control….”
AgriStability is a federal and provincial partnership program that protects farmers and ranchers from margin declines resulting from increased costs or decreased revenue.
Payments are made if the farmer or rancher’s current-year margin falls more than 30 per cent below the average of prior years.
The enhanced AEP was developed because of the unusual losses in 2017.
Broader coverage was needed to protect the 40 to 50 per cent of B.C. farmers and ranchers not enrolled in the regular AgriStability program, according to the ministry.
Under the AEP, B.C. farmers and ranchers can enroll in the regular AgriStability program late and without penalty.
Furthermore, the AEP eliminates reference margin limits and increases the compensation paid from 70 per cent to 80 per cent when margins fell below the 30 per cent payment threshold. The program also has an option for an interim application that allows for an advance payment of up to 75 per cent of the estimated final payment.
“This past year was a very tough year for many residents of B.C., and the impact on many of our ranchers has been devastating,” BC Cattlemen’s Association general manager Kevin Boon says.
“The recognition of this, and understanding that there needs to be some assistance to help them get their feet back under them, is appreciated. This chance to enroll in the 2017 AgriStability program without penalty will certainly provide another useful tool to offset some of the production income losses that producers are facing this year.”
Representatives from the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture will be in the Cariboo region this week to discuss the 2017 B.C. AEP.
A public information session will be held on Friday (Feb. 2) from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Sandman Hotel Conference Hall at 940 Chew Rd.
One-on-one sessions (by appointment) will be offered Feb. 3 between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Quesnel producers can call 1-877-343-2767 to set up a time for a ministry representative to come to their farm that day.
The AEP is 100 per cent funded by the B.C. government.
The ministry estimates B.C. farmers will access between $8 million and $10 million under the new AEP, in addition to the estimated $10 million the federally and provincially funded regular AgriStability program was expected to pay.
For more information about the AEP, visit the government website.