Ensuring farmland sustainability
B.C. agriculture, including ocean based farmers, are vulnerable to changes in climatic conditions and even small shifts can have significant consequences for food production, the livelihoods of farmers, and the future of the agri-food sector in B.C.
Changes in the climate are already underway and climate projections indicate that warmer and drier summers, wetter winters, and increased variability and extreme conditions such as droughts, floods, and wildfires, will all become more common. There will also be the potential for longer growing seasons and different crops. For the agriculture and aquaculture industries to manage the risks and take advantage of the opportunities, they must be able to adapt.
CLIMATE ACTION ADVISORY COMMITTEE
The Climate Action Advisory Committee was formed jointly with the BCAC and Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC to establish the Climate Action Initiative which enables a pan-agriculture approach to identifying and analyzing the impacts of climate change and climate action public policy on the agriculture and food processing sectors. The Advisory Committee guides the efforts taken to raise awareness about potential impacts on agriculture, assists to meet the challenges, and develops renewable energy opportunities.
AGRICULTURE WASTE CONTROL REGULATION
BCAC continues to facilitate discussions pertaining to the new Agriculture Waste Control Regulation (AWCR) at the Government-Industry Working Group meetings. BCAC organized a tour of farms for Ministry of Environment staff last summer to show how wood by-products (sawdust/shavings) are used on farms and discuss ways to protect the environment from leachate. BC Ministry of Agriculture staff have been very helpful working with farmers, ranchers and the Ministry of Environment to develop regulations that work with the sector and protect the environment.
Draft regulations were expected in early 2017, but will now likely be delayed until after the 2017 election. The Ministry of Environment has promised that the working group will see copies of the draft regulations.
WATER SUSTAINABILITY ACT MODERNIZATION
The BCAC Water Sustainability Committee continues engaging with the Province to ensure BC's new Water Sustainability Act (WSA) works for BC farmers and ranchers. During the year, there was some confusion within government on what details are required for licensing existing groundwater users. With considerable input from the BC Cattlemen’s Association, we had a number of meetings with Ministry of Environment staff, as well as both ministers involved (Environment and Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations). While not all of the bugs have been removed, the application forms have been simplified and the fee-waived period extended from March to December 31, 2017.
For information on the new groundwater licensing process—including the application itself—the new fee and rental schedule, and an online calculator to help you estimate your usage requirements, visit: http://www.frontcounterbc.ca/Start/water/ or phone 1-877-855-3222 (toll free).
AGRICULTURE NUTRIENT & AIR WORKING GROUP (ANAWG)
This joint industry-government working group provides a forum for exchange of information on nutrient management and air quality. This group meets to discuss issues that may impact producers in the future, as well as review projects and research being done. The ANAWG committee looks at ways to share information more widely to researchers and producers in a time-efficient and effective way.