Farmers on Vancouver Island and the Southern Gulf Islands will have more support to adapt to climate change after the BC Government announced the development of the Vancouver Island Adaption Strategies plan.

Both the Government of Canada and the Province will provide $300,000 in funding to support projects to help farmers in four priority impact areas.

These four areas include warmer and drier summer conditions, changing pests and beneficial insects, increasing variability and shifting suitability, and increasing precipitation and extreme precipitation events.

“Our farmers are on the front line of climate change, and we should all be very proud of the hard work they are undertaking to adapt to changes in conditions,” said Marie-Claude Bibeau, federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. “By taking a region-specific approach, we are in the best position to support them with solutions customized to the unique challenges they face. At the end of the day, this is all about keeping our farmers’ operations strong and putting more locally-grown food on our kitchen tables.”

In a press release issued on Monday, the BC government says the Vancouver Island Adaption Strategies planning process brought together 90 farmers to work with a variety of Vancouver Island regional districts in order to highlight priorities for agricultural adaptation.

“Being part of the planning process was helpful for understanding the impact that climate change will have on water resources,” said Arzeena Hamir, owner of Amara Farm. “This information is vitally important to support our current production systems as well as the future of the agriculture sector in our region.”

The plan is intended to increase the resilience of producers in the region, says the Province.

“B.C. farmers are resilient by nature and experience challenges daily on their farms,” said Lana Popham, B.C.’s Minister of Agriculture. “We’re helping farmers plan and develop to respond to the challenges of a changing climate and how that affects their livelihood. These strategies, specifically designed for farmers on Vancouver Island and the Southern Gulf Islands, will help them adapt so they can continue contributing to our economy and providing the fresh local food our communities depend on.”

The BC Government adds that a group with up to 20 representatives from the agricultural sector and regional and provincial governments will oversee the development of priority projects.

The government is being praised by local farmers as well for their inclusivity and collective consultation on these strategies.

“I feel appreciative to have been part of the BC Agriculture & Food Climate Action Initiative workshops this past winter. I look forward to the B.C. government continuing to consult with non-stereotypical farmers and listening to the voices of female farmers, organic growers, Indigenous food producers, farmers on leased land and young or new farmers to help solve problems that affect us all: climate change, food security and access to good food,” said Katie Underwood, owner, Peas n’ Carrots farm.

The funding will be provided through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership.

Graham Cox