Protecting Our Vital Food Sources

Posted on Friday, 8 December 2023 under Stories

Imagine that you are a farmer and you lost your barn, or all your fencing and livestock in a mudslide, or wildfire. Insurance can’t or won’t help, so you turn to the government for assistance recovering from a disaster. The problem is that for farmers whose income is less than 50% of their household income, there have been no public dollars to help them out.

We can help to change this.

The BC government is undertaking a comprehensive review and update of emergency legislation to better reflect current priorities and needs. There is an opportunity, through the end of January 2024, to contribute your thoughts and help to influence how responses to emergencies and support for recovery will happen across the province and for different communities, sectors, and regions.

Farmers and fish harvesters in our province are critical to our collective food security, with climate change and political unrest making food from distant places ever more unreliable. Indigenous communities often experience disproportionate impacts from disasters. Yet they are the knowledge holders, since time immemorial, for how to best live in this place called British Columbia. Updated legislation could better meet the needs of these two vital groups and benefit all British Columbians.

Please take the time to read about the proposed changes and to contribute your thoughts in this public consultation.

Read a discussion paper on updating the Disaster Financial Assistance Regulation
Respond to the surveys

Background:

The Emergency Program Act’s purpose is to provide government support to businesses in the event of a natural or other crisis. The Compensation and Disaster Financial Assistance Regulation under the Act defines a farm operation as the means by which the owner obtains more than 50% of their income.

Issue:

Residents in many rural communities obtain the means to live through multiple income streams, including farmers. This is the reality of small communities. The farm operation definition in the current regulation sets an income threshold as a percentage of household income. This precludes many farmers from accessing financial assistance in the event of an emergency. Yet this is where many of the emergencies, particularly “natural” or climate related emergencies take place, including mudslides, flooding and wildfires. Rural farmers are a vital part of local food economies, formal and informal and contribute to the province’s overall food resilience.

Solution:

Remove the household income percentage threshold and perhaps follow the lead of the Assessment Act with an income amount threshold (to be determined to best reflect rural farm economies), or some other criteria to define a farm.