Manitoba’s waterlogged farmers are being promised $194 million in government aid to help pay for crop losses and flood-related damage this year.
MAFRI Minister Stan Struthers last week announced a recovery program aimed at topping up crop insurance, growing greenfeed for livestock and rehabilitating flood-damaged land.
The AgriRecovery package still requires federal participation. Programs under the Growing Forward agricultural policy framework are cost shared 60-40 by Ottawa and the provinces.
But a July 4 publication ban on government programs dictated by Manitoba’s provincial election law forced the province to announce the package before nailing down federal participation, Struthers told a June 30 news conference.
“I have no intention of slipping past that publication ban and leaving farmers in the dark,” he said, expressing confidence Ottawa will contribute its share.
“The discussions we’ve had have been very good and very productive. I’m very confident that the federal government will work together with us on this.”
The provincial election takes place Oct. 4. By law, government announcements are prohibited within 90 days of the vote.
Manitoba farmers have been devastated by unprecedented flooding this year resulting from heavy rains coming on top of a late spring thaw and soils already saturated by wet weather last year.
Flooding is general in almost every region of the province. MAFRI estimates over three million of the province’s 11.6 million cropland acres will go unseeded this year. The projected shortfall in crop receipts is over $1 billion.
Last week’s announcement promises the following:
$30-per-acre payments for unseeded and flooded cropland, regardless of whether or not producers hold crop insurance contracts.
$15 an acre to plant greenfeed by July 22, 2011.
$50 per acre to restore and reseed flood-damaged tame hay and forage seed fields.
Unspecified assistance for forage shortages on flooded pastures and hayland.
Infrastructure rehabilitation and flood mitigation for damaged farm operations.
Assistance for nursery, horticulture and leafcutter bee producers.
Provincial officials said the AgriRecovery program is the largest of its kind in Manitoba history and several times bigger than a similar one last year, when extensive flooding also occurred.
Officials estimate well over 10,000 Manitoba farmers will receive at least some benefits because flood damage is so pervasive.
The $30-per-acre payment is less than the $50 per acre Keystone Agricultural Producers was asking for.
But KAP president Doug Chorney said over 40 per cent of Manitoba crop insurance holders this year opted for the higher $65-acre excess moisture coverage instead of the standard $50 an acre.
The extra $30 per acre will put them at $95 an acre. It won’t make up for a lost crop but it will help with weed control and land restoration, said Chorney.
“It’s not the whole basket but you can’t expect government to have enough money to replace income for every citizen in a year like this. It’s just not realistic.”
Chorney also applauded the fact that payments will carry no deductibles, unlike last year when KAP estimates a third of the money promised to farmers was clawed back by a deductible of either 25 acres or five per cent of annual crop acres, whichever was higher.
This year producers should get what they expect to receive, he said.
“That’s a very big change and we’re pleased to see it.”
Mac McRae, a Manitoba Beef Producers director who raises grain and cattle near Stonewall, said the program will especially help producers forced to relocate herds to alternate pastures this spring because of overland flooding.
“We believe that it should be enough and it should get us to next year,” McRae said.
But Chorney expressed concern that many fields will still be too wet to plant greenfeed by the July 22 seeding deadline.
“It will be tough to get out there by July 22. That’s just the circumstances we’re in and I don’t think anybody can do anything about that.”
Chorney said it wouldn’t make sense to plant greenfeed after that date because the crop would never reach a mature enough stage to harvest. [email protected]
“Webelievethatitshould beenoughanditshould getustonextyear.”
– MAC MCRAE, MBP
“Itwillbetoughto getouttherebyJuly 22.That’sjustthe circumstanceswe’re inandIdon’tthink anybodycando
– DOUG CHORNEY, KAP PRESIDENT