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Fraser Valley milk production returns, B.C. ranchers pitch in

Okanagan, Kootenay dairy farms shipping to Alberta
B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham, Delta South MLA Ian Paton and Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun meet with farmers from the Sumas Prairie, Nov. 23, 2021. (B.C. government photo)

Milk production across B.C. is back to 90 per cent of normal, with more Fraser Valley dairy farms starting to operate as flood water has receded, Agriculture Minister Lana Popham said Friday.

“Yesterday more than 1.5 million litres were picked up in the Lower Mainland,” Popham said at a Nov. 26 briefing with Emergency Management B.C. “This was due to better access to the Sumas Prairie. Multiple farms were being inspected and cleared for production. These volumes include the Okanagan and Kootenay farms. That milk is being delivered to Alberta and there is sufficient supply for all.”

The B.C. Cattlemen’s Association held a roundtable discussion with Popham and ministry staff Thursday, and ranchers outside the flood and landslide-affected areas are arranging feed supplies for Fraser Valley farms. With CP Rail returning to work and Highway 1 open as far north as Hope, grain is moving again, particularly red wheat to restart flour mills, Popham said.

Poultry farms lost thousands of birds, and barns are being cleaned and disinfected as flooding permits. Popham said with Highway 1 open, more people are coming through, and she appealed for privacy as farmers deal with the destruction.

“The pictures that we’re seeing, these are our neighbours, they’re our communities, and it’s unsettling,” she said. “And we need to be respectful of the hurt, the pain that’s in the hearts of our farmers right now.”

Federal and provincial officials are working on reconstruction aid for farmers, beyond B.C.’s Business Management Risk program and private insurance. A federal program is expected within weeks, and affected farmers should contact AgriServiceBC at 1-888-221-7141 to indicate their needs, Popham said.

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