Stewarding Agricultural Watercourses
Who: The Ministry of Agriculture and Food, and farmers
What: Water resource stewardship on agricultural lands
Where: Province of British Columbia
Why: To support farmers
How: By identifying opportunities and challenges
The Ministry of Agriculture and Food (AF) created the Stewarding Agricultural Watercourses (SAW) project to identify challenges and opportunities, build on the successes of current programs such as the Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) and Beneficial Management Practices (BMP) programs, and take next steps toward water resource stewardship on agricultural lands. These next steps are outlined in the discussion paper.
These steps will help farmers by:
• Ensuring agriculture has a voice in watershed-level decision-making processes
• Supporting farmers in navigating provincial and federal legislation
• Exploring opportunities to streamline the water authorizations process for provincially-funded stewardship projects by collaborating across Ministries
• Connecting farmers with funding for watercourse stewardship projects
How your contribution makes a difference
AF has worked with farmers, organizations, industry associations, and agencies to enhance watercourse stewardship within agricultural lands. AF and the farming community want to continue identifying barriers and provide more opportunities to improve watercourse stewardship. The SAW is separate from the Watershed Security Strategy. However, results of the SAW will be shared with those leading the Watershed Security Strategy to help inform its development and implementation.
This Discussion Paper and the feedback received will inform the development of the SAW Action Plan. The Action Plan will provide strategic direction for the Ministry of Agriculture and Food (AF) to act on the recommendations proposed by the public and agricultural parties. It will improve farmers’ and ranchers’ abilities to steward watercourses on their properties.
Estimated release of the final Action Plan: Spring 2023.
The first phase of the SAW project was to better understand how farmers and ranchers are managing watercourses. Participants shared concerns and ideas for change through an online survey, one on one interviews, and focus group sessions. A What We Heard document was developed to provide a summary of engagement results.
A Discussion Paper was drafted to provide early directions for Phase 2 of the Stewarding Agricultural Watercourses (SAW) project. These directions were developed following phase one and are designed to be actionable and measurable. The Province wants your feedback on this Discussion Paper.