EDITORIAL: Fight for farmers

They have enough to battle, it’s time someone stood in their corner

Sometimes there’s nothing better than sitting down to a good meal at the end of a long day – especially if that meal was made with locally grown ingredients.

But it’s no easy task to get that food from the field to your plate. Farmers already have enough hurdles to overcome in their day-to-day operations, so they don’t need something else making their jobs more difficult, especially when that something is a wild animal.

Predators and pests – such as deer, geese, and bears – are a problem that’s accounted for but there is a line on just how much damage can be tolerated before the local food supply is critically impacted or someone’s livelihood is at stake.

We have two articles in today’s edition that highlight some of the challenges our local farmers are facing. Unfortunately, these are just a small sampling of the struggles and trials our local producers have to deal with.

The Lohbrunner Community Farm in Langford has finally managed to secure some funding for much needed deer fencing. These animals can destroy tens of thousands of dollars worth of crops in an evening. Not to mention the damage they can do to equipment, supplies and infrastructure.

The Parry Bay Sheep Farm is also facing a similar problem but with geese. While they can put up mesh around their barley field to prevent geese from walking into the field and under strings that can act as a deterrent, the birds will still find a way in. And once they do, it’s only a matter of time before they eat the entire crop.

These Metchosin farmers have also lost more than a dozen sheep to a single bear this summer and while they anticipate losing roughly 25 a year, it’s still a big hit.

This bear will likely be euthanized because relocating animals is a complex process and rarely the outcome of these types of encounters.

It’s unfortunate and not the result many want to see, including the farmers.

But our farming community finds itself in an interesting paradox. Areas that were once rural have seen more development. This development will often drive away larger predators. Without these predators, deer and other populations have ballooned, feeding on an abundance of gardens and local crops.

These unchecked populations will also attract predators back to the area, and may be the reason the problem bear in Metchosin doesn’t return to a kill for a second meal – he simply doesn’t have to

It’s time all levels of government stepped up to support farmers and cut the red tape that creates these problems. Otherwise, we may not have an agricultural industry left in Greater Victoria.

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