Ottawa and Manitoba are rushing to get an emergency greenfeed program for flooded cattle producers in place within the next two weeks.
Time is tight because of the Oct. 4 provincial election. By law, the government may not announce a new program less than 90 days before the vote. That makes July 4 the deadline for delivering a greenfeed assistance program.
MAFRI Minister Stan Struthers said he and his federal counterpart Gerry Ritz are working as fast as they can to deliver on time.
“I want a program to come forward as quickly as we can because I think producers need to know what it is that they can count on in terms of support from our government. I intend to make those intentions clear as soon as I can,” Struthers said immediately after the legislative session ended June 16.
Manitoba Beef Producers met with Struthers and Ritz earlier this month to appeal for a feed assistance program to help cattle producers whose pastures have been ruined by flooding this spring.
The situation is especially dire around Lake Manitoba, where overland flooding has forced producers to relocate thousands of cattle to alternative pastures throughout the province.
The province last month announced financial assistance to Lake Manitoba producers, including money for renting pasture and compensation for damage to forage and cropland.
But that still leaves an urgent need for feed this winter to make up for grassland that cannot be cut because of flooding.
Manitoba Beef Producers prefers a per-acre payment as an incentive for producers to grow greenfeed, said general manager Cam Dahl.
The money would likely flow through the federal-provincial AgriRecovery business risk management program. This is the same program that provided per-acre payments to Prairie grain farmers unable to seed crops in 2010 because of excessively wet fields.
Ottawa and the province are also looking for ways to help other stricken cattle producers, said Ritz.
“While support measures have been announced for producers within defined flood areas, governments are also working on an AgriRecovery assessment to determine what assistance may be needed beyond existing BRM programs in other areas of the province experiencing excess moisture conditions,” he said in an email to theCo-operator.
Dahl said it would make sense to use unseeded acres for growing greenfeed. An estimated 2.5 million acres of cropland will go unseeded in Manitoba this year because of excessively wet conditions.
But it’s essential for producers to know very soon if there’ll be a greenfeed program so they can plan ahead, said Dahl.
“Producers need to know today, need to know now, what will be in place so that when they’re making decisions on keeping their herds, they know that help will be there,” he said.
“Even if we don’t necessarily have all the details, it’s important to have that announcement come quickly.” [email protected]
“Iwantaprogram tocomeforwardas quicklyaswecan.”
– stan struthers