BRITISH COLUMBIA’S 2023 DROUGHT AND IMPACT: “If you’re using water you don’t need right now, it’s cutting into your food security,” stated Kevin Boon, General Manager of the BC Cattlemen’s Association
With much of British Columbia in the grip of drought, farmers are on the front lines
“As creeks and wells run dry, some B.C. farmers are trucking water to feed livestock, while others are reducing the size of their herds and anticipating crop loss,” wrote Glenda Luymes in an article published by the Vancouver Sun newspaper on July 14, 2023.
“Rangeland that usually feeds thousands of B.C. cows and calves through summer and fall has been devastated by wildfire or stunted by lack of water. To prevent starvation, ranchers are beginning to move cattle from the mountain grasslands to valley pastures that they would typically bale into hay and store for winter.”
“Finding affordable feed sources to replace the lost hay will be a challenge long after the rain returns,” said Kevin Boon, general manager of the B.C. Cattlemen’s Association.
Water and a Changing Climate
“As summers get warmer and drier the need for irrigation of agricultural crops is increasing around the province. This trend is increasing rapidly and the challenge for water management in the province is to improve irrigation system efficiency and store excess stream flows in the spring and freshets for use during drought periods,” stated Ted van der Gulik, President of the Partnership for Water Sustainability. Prior to retirement from government, he was the Senior Engineer in the Ministry of Agriculture.
To Learn More:
To read the complete story that was published in the Vancouver Sun, download a PDF copy of B.C. drought: ‘If you’re using water you don’t need right now, it’s cutting into your food security’
BC’s path to food security is through water security
Look back to see ahead. The 50th anniversary of the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) on April 28, 2023 was an opportunity for reflection followed by action. As Joan Sawicki accurately concluded in her story behind the story, this will require equally good policy and political courage.
The ALR saved the land. Without the ALR, there would be no prospect for food security. Will today’s decision makers rise to the moment and secure the water supply necessary to irrigate the land needed for food security?
In terms of risks and opportunities, the situation in the Fraser Basin illustrates what is at stake for British Columbians.
A Changing Climate Threatens Food Security
Home to two-thirds of British Columbians, the mighty Fraser River is the lifeblood of a vast watershed that stretches from the Rockies to the Pacific. The lower Fraser Valley, one of the most productive agricultural regions in Canada, is vital to BC’s long-term food security.
The Fraser drains one of the most diverse watersheds in North America – for example, its vast lands contain ten of BC’s fourteen biogeoclimatic zones. Yet many of the Fraser’s 34 tributaries, or riversheds, have been damaged by human activity.
TO LEARN MORE:
To read the complete story, download a PDF copy of Living Water Smart in British Columbia: Fifty Years – and miraculously still here: BC’s Agricultural Land Reserve