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Ag Ministers Working On Aid For Drenched Farmers

Provincial and federal agriculture ministers are working on a package to assist Western Canadian farmers suffering through the wettest spring on record, says Manitoba Agriculture Minister Stan Struthers.

And Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger is promising expedited payouts under the Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation’s (MASC) Excess Moisture Insurance program. The program pays farmers $50 for each acre of land that wasn’t seeded by June 20.

“There are a whole number of possibilities on the table,” Struthers said in an interview June 24. “We’ve been talking about topping up the Excess Moisture Insurance (EMI). We’ve been talking about some kind of consideration of a cover crop.

Struthers said the province is also discussing a deferral of cash advance repayments with its federal counterparts.

However, he said the damage must be better quantified before program details can be finalized.

Torrential rains hit most of agro-Manitoba again last week. Steinbach, Teulon, and Pierson received 56, 61 and 59 mm. That’s almost a month’s worth in seven days.

“I want to encourage farmers to be contacting our regional staff… to talk about their situations and how many unseeded acres they have and how many were seeded and got washed out because the sooner we can get that the sooner we can put a better program together,” Struthers said.

The deadline for filing seeded acreage reports to MASC was June 30.

Once most are processed MASC, can estimate the number of unseeded acres, said Craig Thomson, MASC’s vice-president of insurance operations.

The extent of damaged and destroyed crops will take longer to calculate.

“There’s definitely lots of acres where there’s not much hope for them,” he said, stressing a crop insurance appraisal is required before a farmer can rip up a field.

Selinger visited the Interlake June 25, while Struthers Ochre River and Ste. Rose du Lac June 22, where the skies opened on already sodden fields.

“It really pounded down,” Struthers said. “By the time we got back to Ste. Rose the main street was like a river. It was just crazy.”

Cattle farmers are already dealing with grain farmers to buy greenfeed, Struthers said.

The crop insurance deadline for planting greenfeed is July 15, although coverage is reduced to 80 per cent.

The Manitoba Cattle Producers Association (MCPA) wants MASC to extend the seeding deadline for planting cereal grains to July 15 to encourage feed grain production, said MCPA director Martin Unrau. With the smallest wheat and barley plantings since 1971 and 1965, livestock farmers could be short of grain this winter, he said.

Struthers said he doesn’t think extending the seeding deadline will help.

“My approach is to make sure you do the right thing for the farmer in the short-term and at the same time keep your eye on the long-term picture,” he said.

An MASC official said the risk of a crop failure increases dramatically when crops are seeded later than June 20 and that would drive up premiums to grain farmers. [email protected]

About the author

Reporter

Allan Dawson

Allan Dawson is a reporter with the Manitoba Co-operator based near Miami, Man. Covering agriculture since 1980, Dawson has spent most of his career with the Co-operator except for several years with Farmers’ Independent Weekly and before that a Morden-Winkler area radio station.

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