A B.C. dairy farmer says the impact of flooding in the province on her industry has been less severe than it could have been, a fact she attributes to farmers pulling together as a community.
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Sarah Sache is a dairy farmer in Chilliwack and the vice chair of the BC Dairy Association. She told CTV News Vancouver on Saturday that the devastating flooding in Abbotsford’s Sumas Prairie is no longer hampering B.C.’s milk production for commercial consumption.

“The amount that it’s affected the production of milk is not as significant as it could’ve been,” Sache said. “In terms of the provincial production, I think we’re back to filling all of the food orders that we’re receiving, and then about 80 per cent of industrial orders, so that would be for things like cheese and yogurt.”

This is despite the fact that farms on Sumas Prairie account for about 14 per cent of all milk production in B.C., according to Sache.

More than 640,000 animals died in the flooding, provincial Minister of Agriculture Lana Popham announced this week. Relatively few of them were cows, however. B.C. farmers lost 628,000 poultry animals, 12,000 hogs and 420 cows, according to Popham.

Despite those figures, the minister shared Friday that 97 per cent of egg-laying chickens and 98 per cent of cows on farms under evacuation orders because of flooding survived.

In the dairy industry, more than 6,000 cows were moved from affected farms to farms outside the flood zone, according to Sache.

Those animals are part of the reason the industry has been able to largely meet the demand for its products. Relocated cows are still producing milk in their temporary homes, Sache said.

“It’s just been amazing to see the community come together and the way that everyone has worked to support each other,” she said, adding that relocating that many cattle was a challenge.

“It’s not ideal, but it’s absolutely worth it to make sure that (cows are) safe and comfortable and fed. We’re getting through it as an industry, together.”

Sache also stressed that the disaster in Abbotsford is far from over. On Friday, residents of the northern part of Sumas Prairie were allowed to return to their homes for the first time since evacuation orders were issued in mid-November.

Other sections of the prairie are still on evacuation orders, and Mayor Henry Braun said Friday that it could be weeks before all of the floodwater is pumped out of the former Sumas Lake and residents of that area are able to return home.

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