Manitoba pledges $62 million for AgriRecovery

Drought situation has been ‘extremely stressful and challenging’ for cattle producers, says MBP president

Additional details will be shared with Manitoba producers as programs are developed and become available.

The Manitoba government will invest $62 million in programs for drought-stricken farmers under the AgriRecovery framework ag minister Ralph Eichler announced Aug. 10.

“Without additional investment, producers are in the very difficult position of having to consider reducing their herds or leaving the industry altogether,” said Eichler in a news release. “Our government is making this significant investment to ensure there are other options available, when they’re needed most.”

Programs are still under development but will include funding for feed assistance, feed transportation, cattle transportation and a herd rebuilding program the province said in a news release.

This adds to $100 million the federal government promised late last week. The funds are to be split between the western provinces, designed to match provincial AgriRecovery submissions on the 60-40 cost-shared basis outlined under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, the federal government said in an Aug. 6 news release. 

The federal government said it was willing to find more cash if needed.

“The drought conditions have been extremely stressful and challenging for Manitoba’s cattle producers, forcing them to make difficult short and long-term decisions about the future of their operations. This has not been easy for them or their families,” said Tyler Fulton, president of Manitoba Beef Producers in a statement.

“Today’s announcement is very important as it recognizes both the immediate needs related to the feed situation, as well as looks ahead to a time when producers will consider rebuilding their herds. We appreciate the government’s commitment to the future of our sector and look forward to seeing more program details.”

"Keystone Agricultural Producers welcomes this announcement and will continue to work with the provincial government, Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation and Manitoba's farm organizations to ensure that programs address the challenges facing producers across our province," said Bill Campbell, president, Keystone Agricultural Producers in the provincial news release.

Additional details will be shared with Manitoba producers as programs are developed and become available the province said.

Prior to the Aug. 10 announcement, the Manitoba Beef Producers said it’s asking for a per-head payment program “that would allow individual producers to make management decisions in the weeks and months ahead which are best suited to their particular operation’s situation,” it said in an Aug. 6 statement posted to its website.

It’s also asking for a herd recovery plan, either by expanding the eligibility of the per-head payment to help producers who’ve sold off cattle, or by using “existing mechanisms.” 

MBP has asked for consideration under AgriRecovery to include assistance for unanticipated infrastructure costs like fencing, or watering equipment, and to help cover the cost of hauling water. 

MBP has requested several other measures including a forage-restoration program, which it said have been initiated after past events like flood events; a freeze on rental rate increases for crown lands; extended eligibility under the Livestock Tax Deferral Program to include all classes of cattle; and increased support from Manitoba Agriculture extension staff on issues like alternative feed use, water source testing and feed testing. 

Manitoba Beef Producers is also asking that the “principle of retroactivity be taken into account when designing and delivering AgriRecovery initiatives” as some producers have had to start feeding cattle well ahead of usual or send cattle to market or slaughter far earlier than ideal.

This article was originally published at the Manitoba Co-operator.

For more content related to drought management visit The Dry Times, where you can find a collection of stories from our family of publications as well as links to external resources to support your decisions through these difficult times.

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