The summer of 2015 brought the impacts of climate change into the spotlight for B.C. agriculture.

The extended hot and dry summer brought drought, fire and changes to the timing of farm activities such as harvesting.

As these types of conditions become more common, developing the capacity to adapt will be critical to ensuring the continued viability and resilience of B.C.’s agriculture sector in the future.

Since 2008, the B.C. Agriculture & Food Climate Action Initiative (CAI) has been working with B.C.’s agriculture sector to enable a proactive and pan-agriculture approach to climate change issues. The tools and resources being developed are building the capacity of agriculture to adapt to projected changes in various regions of the province.

“There is a lot of information out there about the global impacts of climate change, but the changes – and suitable solutions and adaptations – vary from one region to the next,” says Emily MacNair, program manager. “The B.C. Agriculture & Food Climate Action Initiative is working to identify climate-related threats and opportunities to the agriculture sector across British Columbia, as well as specific impacts to local production systems and microclimates.”

Funding is being provided for the development and implementation of regional adaptation strategies for agriculture, as well as farm-level adaptation through the Farm Adaptation Innovator Program.

In the Cariboo, the CAI is collaborating on three projects that were identified as priorities in the Cariboo regional adaptation strategy: cooperative maintenance and enhancement of agricultural dams, wildfire mitigation and preparedness planning, and assessing and evaluating options for livestock surface water.

“These projects take on challenges that every producer in this region is facing, not just individuals. A ranch on its own does not have the financial resources to deal with changes of this magnitude,” says Duncan Barnett of the Cariboo Cattlemen’s Association.

“While we have put some of our own time and money into these projects, it really helps to have access to program funding so we can undertake some of the studies required, and collectively develop long-term solutions,” he adds. “CAI provides a way to get the job done.”

For more information about the B.C. Agriculture & Food Climate Action Initiative and adaptation project results, visit www.bcagclimateaction.ca.

FUNDING: IAF is administering $3.4 Million in Growing Forward 2 funding to the BC Agriculture and Food Climate Action Initiative for the implementation of adaptation practices and initiative identified in the Regional Climate Adaptation Strategies from across the Province.