B.C. flooding: Thousands of farm animals dead, agriculture minister says


Vancouver –

Thousands of farm animals have perished in B.C. floods, and hundreds extra can be in “vital want of meals” over the subsequent few days, in response to the province’s minister of agriculture.

“This is a really troublesome time for agriculture in B.C. and our producers,” mentioned Lana Popham throughout a information convention Wednesday afternoon.

“Over the final two days, I’ve been in a position to have FaceTime discussions with farmers, and a few of them are of their barns, and a few of their barns are flooded, and you may see the animals which are deceased,” she added. “It’s heartbreaking.”

Popham mentioned her ministry has made greater than 300 contacts with B.C. agriculture teams and particular person farms for the reason that flooding started earlier this week.

“I really feel assured that we have lined off most commodity teams and folks perceive that we’re there with them,” she mentioned.

Hundreds of farms have been affected by flooding, together with each these which are underwater and those who have stayed dry, however are minimize off from needed sources.

Many farmers on Sumas Prairie in Abbotsford have stayed put, regardless of evacuation orders, refusing to desert their animals.

Owners, together with volunteers, are desperately making an attempt to save lots of cattle.

Frightened cows are being towed one after the other by means of treacherous flood waters behind jet skis. They are then pulled to security and herded into trailers.

One of the individuals utilizing a ship to assist in the hassle is Abbotsford resident Menno Koehoorn.

“The cows are very confused,” Koehoorn informed CTV News. “They’re of course shivering and shaking and panicked … There were a lot of brave people out there – 50, 60 people wading cows across.”

He has spent the previous two days on the water.

“The best thing is we’re community, so everybody is helping everybody,” mentioned Koehoorn.

Still, the state of affairs is heartbreaking.

“There’s going to be dead livestock and dead chickens and some other things,” mentioned Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun. “We know that a lot of the cows came out. The heroic efforts of our farmers was unbelievable. I wish you could see what I saw.”

But the emotional mayor says many calves drowned when waters rose to 4 or 5 ft.

Paulette Johnson, 66, and her 86-year-old husband David, had been rescued from their farm on Tuesday after a daunting 24 hours within the flood zone. Her husband has been sick and has since been hospitalized.

“I was scared, but I didn’t let myself be scared because I knew I couldn’t be,” Johnson mentioned. “I was really worried about my husband and my livestock.”

She says the water got here up quick, flooding her dwelling and leaving the cows standing in water as nicely.

“The hay started floating and they were eating the hay as it floated,” she defined.

She says her neighbours had been in a position to look after the animals and the water had began to recede at their farm.

She’s extraordinarily grateful to those that rescued her after earlier makes an attempt had failed.

Meanwhile, Popham promised catastrophe aid funds for farmers affected by the catastrophe, and added that B.C. is working with different provinces, the federal authorities, and personal companies not affected by the floods in an effort to safe meals and different sources – similar to medical care – for animals that survived the flooding.

“There must be euthanizations that occur, however there are additionally animals which have survived which are going to be in vital want of meals within the subsequent few days,” Popham mentioned.

Flooding within the Fraser Valley additionally inundated the province’s animal well being lab, which conducts testing for illnesses in livestock within the province, in addition to security testing for B.C. milk, in response to the minister.

Popham mentioned Alberta and Saskatchewan have provided their labs for milk testing whereas B.C.’s facility is out of fee.

The agriculture minister’s remarks got here after earlier feedback from the mayor of Abbotsford concerning the devastation within the Sumas Prairie.

“I noticed barns that appeared like they had been half full of water,” Braun mentioned. “I am unable to think about that there are any birds left alive.”

Dairy and rooster farms cowl the realm, the place residents in 1,000 properties had been informed to evacuate on Tuesday.

Farmers spent hours Tuesday working to move their animals to security, in some circumstances counting on boats and different watercraft.

Braun mentioned he watched farmers trudge by means of water that was 1.5 metres deep to get the livestock out.

The state of affairs grew extra frantic Tuesday night time when it appeared a vital water pump station could be overwhelmed. Braun urged these farmers who had ignored the evacuation order to depart their animals and get out.

By Wednesday, the pump station had been surrounded by sandbags and Braun mentioned he felt higher concerning the state of affairs.

The flooding state of affairs in elements of southern British Columbia has compelled farmers to lean on one another to save lots of their animals, says the chair of the board for the BC Dairy Association.

Holger Schwichtenberg mentioned he was not but certain what number of farmers had been working to maneuver their milking cows, however in such conditions, they might attain out for assist to get their animals off-site.

He mentioned 25 to 30 cows had been being transported to his personal farm in Agassiz on Tuesday from one other farm within the Fraser Valley, east of Vancouver.

“This is an example of an industry coming together when things really get ugly,” Schwichtenberg mentioned. “We’re doing the best that we can with the situation that we’ve been handed and it’s a tough one.”

Moving livestock is time consuming and aggravating for the animals and folks concerned.

“You’ve got trucks, you’ve got neighbours, you’ve got whoever’s got a pickup truck or something to haul cattle in and you start moving them to higher ground or you’ve made arrangements to get them off-site,” Schwichtenberg mentioned.

Braun mentioned Tuesday watching farmers work to save lots of their animals was “heartbreaking.”

“They want to protect their animals. Many would give their lives for their animals,” Braun informed reporters.

Schwichtenberg mentioned this week’s flooding has put a pressure on the business, which continues to be reeling from a disastrous summer time.

“We had a long, hot summer, we had a very poor growing season unless you had irrigation, the ongoing effects of COVID, and now we have this situation,” he mentioned.

“It’s testing the resilience of dairy farmers, that’s for sure.”

With recordsdata from The Canadian Press.