Livestock have died, and dairy farm pickups are suspended
By Diego Flammini
The recent floods in British Columbia have created challenges for the province’s ag sector.
“Over the last two days, I’ve been able to have FaceTime discussions with farmers, and some of them are in their barns, and some of their barns are flooded, and you can see the animals are deceased,” Lana Popham, B.C.’s agriculture minister, told reporters Wednesday. “It’s heartbreaking.”
The dairy sector has also been affected.
More than 60 farms in the Fraser Valley are under evacuation orders, and because of the conditions, trucks can’t access farms to pick up milk.
Dairy farmers in Abbotsford, Chilliwack and Agassiz East are being asked to dump their milk. Some producers in the B.C. Interior are also being asked to dispose of milk, a notice from the BC Milk Marketing Board says.
Poultry producers are concerned as well.
Farmers in affected areas are hoping floods stops and equipment doesn’t fail, or else chickens would be in danger.
“We’re hoping and praying those pumps don’t let go,” Kimberley Driediger, who raises about 20,000 chickens on her farm in Abbotsford, told the Vancouver Sun on Nov. 17. “If the pump fails, that’s it. Everyone’s kind of in shock. We’re operating on adrenaline.”
Goods transportation is also affected.
Canadian Pacific’s “operations between Spences Bridge and Falls Creek, B.C., remain suspended following heavy rains that have resulted in multiple track outages,” a Nov. 17 update says. “There is no time estimate for when service will resume.”
Access to and from the Port of Vancouver, which moves more than $550 million worth of cargo each day, is shut down.
And as of Tuesday night, 32 vessels were at anchor.
One bright spot from the floods is the show of community support.
Farmers and members of the public have been working together to save animals caught in water and to relocate livestock.
Videos have surfaced on social media of people in boats and jet skis pulling cattle out of the water.
It’s a sign of B.C.’s resiliency, said Holger Schwichtenberg, chair of the BC Dairy Association.
“This has been the most challenging year for dairy farmers in BC I can recall, with drought, pandemic, and now flood,” he said in a statement. “And yet, as this event demonstrates, it has also been a year of coming together. We will work through this disaster, and do what we can with the circumstances we’ve been handed. Farmers are nothing if not resilient.”
Farms.com has contacted multiple B.C. ag industry groups for updates on the situation and how the ag sector is affected.