THE BC Liberals said on Thursday that four weeks after floods devastated farms in various communities across B.C., farmers are still unclear about what sort of help they can expect from government, and when.
“We know that existing disaster financial assistance is nowhere near enough to cover crop losses and damage to homes and farm equipment. Farmers on the ground are telling us they remain confused about what sort of additional resources or financial compensation they will be eligible for, to help them recover from their tremendous losses,” said Delta South MLA Ian Paton, Opposition Critic for Agriculture. “It’s been four weeks, and farmers want to get back to work. The Province and the federal government need to bring forward a recovery package much faster, to provide these farmers with the support and reassurance they need right now.”
As they wait, questions are mounting — and a lack of clear information has farmers worried, said the BC Liberals.
“Will berry growers receive compensation for production losses due to plants that take years to re-grow? Will there be compensation for soil contamination? Will farmers have choice in the programs or grants they can apply for? These are the questions they need answers to, as soon as possible,” said Bruce Banman, MLA for Abbotsford South. “These farmers were let down by government. They lost 48 hours to move equipment, livestock, and keepsakes because they weren’t warned about the impending flood of the Nooksack River, and the government was also slow to declare a state of emergency. Now, farmers deserve a better response from this government and from Agriculture Minister Lana Popham in particular, in the form of adequate recovery and rebuilding help.”
The MLAs noted that as we focus on the immediate needs of farmers, we also need to think ahead. They said both levels of government need to take dike upgrades more seriously and provide routine funding for maintenance and flood protection. Better coordination on the ground and improved use of local knowledge is also key for future disaster response endeavours.