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‘Local heroes’: B.C. dairy farmers fed cows submerged to their necks in water for 2 days, agriculture minister says

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Farmers in B.C.’s flood-stricken Fraser Valley are demonstrating just how resilient and persevering they can be in the face of recent storms.


Agriculture Minister Lana Popham said Wednesday members of her team visited Abbotsford and spoke with the mayor and local farmers about the impacts last week’s storm and floods have had on the community.


Popham said the sector has been hit hard, but “pretty amazing stories” are emerging, including one of two brothers, Carl and Rudy Meyer, who spent days feeding dozens of dairy cows that were submerged in water.

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“The waters came up so fast (last) Monday, they couldn’t get their livestock out and so 180 dairy cows were up to their necks in water,” Popham said she was told by Holger Schwichtenberg, chair of the BC Dairy Association’s board.


“Those brothers went in and fed those cows hay for two days while those cows were submerged in that water.”


Popham said she was told the waters receded last Wednesday and all the cows are fine and are back to being milked.


“So huge kudos to Carl and Rudy,” she said. “Thank you for being amazing local heroes.”

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Schwichtenberg said in a statement that with the pandemic, a drought and flooding, this has been one of the most challenging years for dairy farmers that he can recall.


“And yet, as this event demonstrates, it has also been a year of coming together,” he said in a statement last week.


“We will work through this disaster, and do what we can with the circumstances we’ve been handed. Farmers are nothing if not resilient.”


At least 500 cattle are dead from the flooding, the BC Dairy Association said earlier this week, but thousands of animals were moved last week to farms not under evacuation order. Schwichtenberg told CTV Morning Live Wednesday he took in a couple dozen cows himself, but they’ll be going home in the coming days.


Schwichtenberg said the best thing the public can do to support farmers is to have patience.


“Understand what we’re going through,” he said on CTV Morning Live. “Continue to buy milk, obviously.”


Sixty-two dairy farms in the Fraser Valley were placed under evacuation order, according to the BC Dairy Association. Those orders have slowly been lifting in some areas, however. 

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