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February 23, 2024

The British Columbia budget for the 2024 fiscal year includes a historic investment of $83 million in water storage for B.C. farmers and ranchers.

Recent climate events have stressed supplies of safe, reliable water in multiple regions of the province and numerous farmers and ranchers have been significantly impacted by irrigation curtailments at the most critical time of the growing season.

“We would like to thank the Government of BC for this investment as it comes at a critical time,” says BC Agriculture Council (BCAC) president, Jennifer Woike. “Over the last several years, our farmers and ranchers have been significantly impacted by heat domes, drought, wildfires and flooding - in addition to managing skyrocketing production cost increases. This was a needed investment – one we hope will serve as a stepping stone to providing long-term, generational sustainability for the sector.”

The February 22 announcement adds to the Agriculture Water Infrastructure Program, which was launched in Budget 2023 with $30 million in funding over three years. This brings the total investment in the program to approximately $113 million.

Budget 2024 also included other measures important to the B.C. agriculture sector:


-  Farmers and ranchers will be exempted from insurance premium tax when paying premiums for provincial agricultural insurance, making these programs more affordable.


-  The Ministry of Agriculture and Food is forecasted to receive $130 million in funding in 2024-25, an increase of 16% over Budget 2023.


-  Effective immediately, the exemption threshold for the Employers Health Tax will be doubled from $500,000 to $1 million, which exempts about 90% of businesses in B.C.


-  $77 million in funds from 2023-24 recently announced to upgrade the Barrowtown pump station in Abbotsford, as well as $14 million to help Cowichan Lake store more water for a region where farmers have been affected by successive years of drought.


Source:  BC Agriculture Council February 22, 2024 news release



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Submitted by Karen Davidson on 23 February 2024