Manitoba has done its part to develop an emergency aid program for flooded cattle producers and it’s now up to Ottawa to deliver the goods, says Agriculture Minister Stan Struthers.
The NDP government approved its share of the assistance package weeks ago and it’s not responsible for a federal delay in announcing it, Struthers said in an interview Oct. 12.
“We’ve passed on everything that they’ve asked us for,” he said.
“We’ve collected all the data that we needed to make a decision and we’ve passed all the information on to the federal government. We’ve got all our money on the table.”
Struthers said the provincial cabinet approved its portion of the aid package at the end of August after receiving the go-ahead from Treasury Board. The province contributes 40 per cent and the federal government pays 60 per cent.
The ball is now in Ottawa’s court, but Manitoba has yet to hear when money could start flowing, Struthers said.
“I can only assume that (federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz) needs to get through the logistical process that every government needs to go through.”
The program aims at helping help cattle producers whose hayfields and pastures were severely damaged by excessive rains and overland flooding.
The Manitoba Cattle Producers Association appealed for the program earlier this summer. MCPA is requesting per head payments for breeder and feeder stock to help offset feed and forage losses. It also wants feed freight assistance and tax deferrals for producers forced to sell all or part of their herds.
Struthers said the province has suggested flowing aid through AgriRecovery, similar to what flooded grain farmers received this summer. That program paid $450 million to crop producers in the three Prairie provinces, based on $30 an acre. Manitoba received $62 million.
But that program covered only seeded and unseeded crops, not hayfields and grasslands which were also flooded.
MCPA estimates flooding could leave up to a third of Manitoba cattle producers short of feed this winter.
The worst-hit areas are the Interlake and Westlake regions, although beef producers in other parts of the province are also affected.
A federal agriculture official said last month his department was still assessing the extent of damage and calculating feed losses in affected areas. A late harvest was delaying the evaluation. [email protected]
– STAN STRUTHERS