As droughts intensify in Northwest, B.C., farmers and ranchers try to adapt.

A room with people looking at displays for agriculture
Farmers and Ranchers of the Bulkley Valley discuss the best ways to adapt to climate change and increased natural disasters. Photo: Dan Mesec.
Daniel Mesec - CICK - SmithersBC | 07-11-2023
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The Bulkley Valley and Lakes District has long standing agricultural roots in the region. From Hazelton to Vanderhoof, the valley corridor is covering in ranches, hay feeds and farm land. 

This past season's level five drought, the worst the region has seen in a generation, hit farmers and ranches hard. Many have had to sell off parts of their herds, or in some cases entire farm to recover losses. 

Drought, wildfires and other climate induced pressures are taking its toll on every agricultural region in the province, and indeed the country. That’s why the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture is hosting a series of forums to engage communities about the Regional Extension Program. 

"The meant to bring ranchers and farmers together to discuss ways to help mitigate climate change and other impacts to local farms and find out what methods will best prepare them for the future," said Mark Raymond, an executive director with the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture.

The five year producer-focused research program launched in April 2023 to help increase on-farm adoption of beneficial management practices to make their farms and ranches more sustainable, economically viable and climate resilient. 

The researchers will work with ranchers and farmers to identify soil health, water supply, Reducing impacts of extreme temperatures, and grassland habitat management to name a few. 

Eugene Witter of W. Diamond Ranch knows the ever changing realities of working the land and raising cattle. He’s seen many changes over his 30 years out on the ranch and is working to insulate the his herd and livelihood from the challenges that are coming in the wake of climate change and economic and social uncertainty.

Listen to the full episode below.