Government relief welcome news for fire-stricken B.C. farmers, but details vague

The federal and provincial governments announced Wednesday that they are working together to assess the damage and determine what can be done to compensate farmers and ranchers for losses.

News comes as province surpasses historical wildfire record

The B.C. Cattlemen's Association says there are an estimated 30,000 head of cattle in areas affected by wildfire this year. (Ryan Maljaars )

Government help is on the way for B.C. farmers and ranchers affected by this summer's wildfires, but details of what that help will look like are still a bit hazy.

The federal and provincial governments announced Wednesday that they are working together to assess the damage and determine what can be done to compensate farmers and ranchers for losses.

"The program that we are developing is going to provide good value and [get them] back up and working as soon as possible," said B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham.

The assistance would cover costs related to feeding, sheltering, transporting and ensuring the health of livestock, as well as costs associated with re-establishing crops and pastures wiped out by fire.

'Those are our babies'

Kevin Boon, of the B.C. Cattlemen's Association, said the announcement is "welcome news."

"There is not much meat on the bones yet, but we are fleshing out that meat to make this application work for our guys and for government as well," Boon said.

Kevin Boon, the general manager of the B.C. Cattlemen's Association, says this year's wildfire season has been tough on B.C.'s ranchers. (CBC)

Boon says there are more than 30,000 head of cattle in this year's fire zones.

The fire destroyed feed, grazing land and grass, along with infrastructure loss including corrals, houses, machinery, irrigation equipment and fences.

Listen to Kevin Boon on CBC's The Early Edition:

But in some ways, the emotional toll of the wildfire season has been equally significant.

"These people have been out there for over 40 days ... fighting fires, living within the fires, seeing their maybe generations of work go up in smoke, and that has a huge, huge amount of emotional toll," he said.

"We raise livestock. A lot of people don't understand it but those are our babies in a lot of ways."

The B.C. Wildfire Service says an estimated 894,941 hectares have burned since the start of the fire season on April 1, breaking a 1958 record to make 2017 officially the worst fire season on record.

With files from Brady Strachan.