BC Blueberry Council Flood Recovery Program Statement - Feb 8, 2022
This has been a long-awaited announcement. Finally, there is some hope for assistance for the flood-impacted farmers.
“Our ordeal started on November 15th and these have been some stressful few months, not knowing how we are going to clean-up and restart our lives and revive our livelihood, the blueberry fields.” says Harry Sidhu, whose family farms in Sumas Prairie.
Over the next few days, we will be reviewing the fine print of the AgriRecovery program. Once we have a better understanding of the program, we can determine if it adequately covers the losses.
November’s flooding affected at least 2,500 acres of blueberries--though approximately 700-1000 acres were more severely impacted--largely affecting the Sumas Prairie region. In all, the province is home to more than 26,000 acres of highbush blueberries, an acreage that on average produces 165 million lbs. of blueberries a year.
Blueberry growers in the region remain uncertain about not only how their plants made it through the event but also about the state of their machinery and farm structures. Growers in the Matsqui and Hatzic Flats areas are also concerned since their fields experienced significant flooding, and there was localized flooding in other blueberry growing regions in the lower mainland.
The blueberry fields in less flooded areas where the water drained after five to six days and was only two to three feet deep may have a chance to recover their fields, though it’s expected that all flooded blueberry fields are likely to experience varying degrees of damage or loss. “Damage to fields is starting to be reassessed now that the water has receded,” says Jason Smith, the BC Blueberry Council’s board chair. However, the industry won’t know the full impact of the event for at least a season or two given some of the effects might be more apparent over time.
“There is a strong possibility that severely impacted growers will need to pull out their plants and replant them, which could be a large financial expense,” says Harry Sidhu. “Blueberries are a perennial plant, and it takes years for a sizeable crop yield, so this may be a significant loss of income for many years." For the replanted plants, it may take a minimum of five years to produce any meaningful volumes.
While Smith notes that “the majority of the BC blueberry growing region is not impacted and there is no short or long-term impact for BC blueberry consumers, a proper crop outlook may not be available until the spring or early summer.”
The 2021 Canada-British Columbia Flood Recovery Program for Food Security (AgriRecovery) provides one-time funding for:
- Uninsurable infrastructure repair and cleanup costs
- Return to production expenses
Applications are NOW OPEN. See the application and more information about the program below.
Application and Program Information: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/agriculture-seafood/programs/agriculture-insurance-and-income-protection-programs/flood-recovery
Press Conference Stream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Yv5Vyoo2HM&ab_channel=ProvinceofBC