The federal government has pledged $100 million through AgriRecovery to aid drought-stricken farmers.
Today we are announcing $100 million to add to provincial AgriRecovery initiatives, ready to be delivered as quickly as we can turn around provincial submissions, and ready to seek further funding for requests exceeding this amount,” said federal Minister of Agriculture Marie-Claude Bibeau in an Aug. 6 news release.
AgriRecovery is a disaster relief framework by which federal and provincial governments may assist farmers with “extraordinary costs” related to recovering from disaster, according to a provincial explainer.
Province-specific plans for those relief dollars have yet to be inked. The news release said the federal government is working “around the clock” with the provinces to complete assessments and response plans.
“The Government of Canada is open to submissions that include direct assistance to livestock producers for added costs of obtaining livestock feed, transportation and water,” the news release said.
In a joint announcement, provincial ag minister Ralph Eichler and Bibeau announced that they’d agreed to raise the 2021 AgriStability interim benefit payment percentage to 75 per cent from 50 per cent.
Manitoba will also invoke the late participation provision in AgriStability so producers not in the program can still join, the news release said.
Bibeau repeated the federal government’s offer to raise the overall AgriStability compensation rate to 80 per cent from 70 per cent.
When it comes to doling out relief funds, Manitoba Beef Producers is asking the province for a two-pronged approach MBP general manager Carson Callum told the Co-operator on August 4.
First, producers who are able to keep cattle need financial aid to buy feed, he said. MBP asked for this in the form of a per-head payment.
“We think the producer in their given area should be able to determine what works best for their business decisions,” said Callum.
Secondly, producers forced to sell need a long-term plan to rebuild their herds said Callum. They’d be happy to see a top-up program for producers who lost equity selling breeding stock at cull-cow rates.
Speaking to the Co-operator on August 5, Eichler agreed that a two-pronged approach was needed.
“We know the money has to flow in a very timely manner,” he said. “That’s my number one priority. To try to put as much money in the hands of producers as quickly as we can. Time is of the essence.”
Eichler indicated he advocated for a per-head payment on a receipt basis, as not all producers have been equally hit by drought.
He said plans were needed for long-term recovery, which might include banding together to plan programs with the other provinces in the same boat. He mentioned breeding programs for drought and wet-resistant hay and other management practices.
For further coverage, see the upcoming issue of the Manitoba Co-operator.