Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP) president Bill Campbell is urging Manitoba farmers to help one another to find livestock feed for the winter.
“Once the combine goes and chops it (grain straw) that field is done (as a feed source),” Campbell said here at KAP’s advisory council meeting Aug. 9. “We need to have some of those conversations and neighbours need to have that conversation on how we facilitate the baling of straw. I’m not sure there’s room for speculation on a lot of grain producers’ part.
“From what I can gather two weeks and we’ll be right into full-fledged wheat harvest. Once you combine it’s gone.”
A dry, hot summer has reduced hay production in many parts of the province, KAP delegates told Campbell.
“Straw is going to be in huge demand,” Walt Finlay of Souris said. “There are dugouts and sloughs that are drying up now that haven’t been dry since the ‘80s.”
Neil Galbraith, who farms near Minnedosa, said hay yields in his area are down 50 per cent or more and some farmers will be feeding cattle by Sept. 1.
“There’s just no regrowth after they (cattle) chew it down once,” he told the meeting.
Wheat harvesting has already begun in many parts of the province.
There’s more to consider than whether to drop or chop straw as it’s being combined, delegates said. For example, it’s harder to bale straw that’s gone through a rotary threshing machine.
“The (wheat) varieties are shorter,” Campbell said in an interview. “They are meant for straight cutting. We’re spraying more glyphosate on the wheat for desiccation. It (straw) just disintegrates (when combined). There will be a lots of areas of this province even if you say you can have my straw there’s nothing left.
“Hopefully, we can take a co-operative approach… because straw and pellets; they will work. It will be a change in how you winter your cow herds, but it can work.”
Poor cell coverage
Poor cellphone service and municipal and education taxes on farmland were also discussed hot topics
Cell coverage isn’t just a matter of convenience, but life and death, Campbell said, alluding to the EF-4 tornado that killed Jack Furrie, 77, near Alonsa Aug. 3.
Those in the affected area weren’t warned via cellphone because there was no service.
KAP delegates from across the province complained about spotty service and cell dead zones.
“Where I live I have absolutely no cellphone service,” said Manitoba Sheep Association executive director Kate Basford, who lives near Winnipegosis.
“Since Bell took over (MTS) with their claim of making huge improvements it has actually gotten worse. I have to go 20 minutes from my home towards Dauphin to get any kind of cell service.”
After several years of double-digit increases in farmland taxes, many delegates said their property tax bills are up again.
Walter Finlay of Souris said taxes in the R.M. of Oakland-Wawanesa were up 49 to 60 per cent.
Craig Riese, who farms near Lockport, said farmland taxes in his area are up 37 per cent, while residential property taxes are down 15 per cent — a clear sign the tax burden continues to shift to farmers.
“My brother is running for council to try to get some farmer representation back,” Riese said. “That’s the attitude we’re taking. Put your money where your mouth is. You’ve got to get involved. If you complain and don’t get involved then don’t complain.”
“We are pressing their (councillors’) feet to the fire on how they deal with this because this has become a financial burden on agriculture and we will not let this rest or fall to the wayside,” he said.