Turnaround time on drought aid was on producers’ minds as they questioned Manitoba Agriculture staff during a webinar on September 14.
“Most farmers won’t have the money just sitting around without borrowing it,” a participant said in a question read out by MARD staff.
MARD, Keystone Agricultural Producers, Manitoba Forage and Grassland Association and Manitoba Beef Producers co-hosted a web presentation outlining the basics of applying for drought aid through the two AgriRecovery programs. They then took producer questions.
“We are dedicated to processing (aid applications) as quickly as possible,” said Carlyle Bennett, manager of livestock production with MARD. “I believe the first cheques for the program will at least be printed within the coming week.”Why it matters
Why it matters: Time is of the essence when it comes to aiding the province’s livestock sector.
Bennett said they’d tried to simplify the application process as much as possible, and advised farmers to submit complete and correct applications to expedite the approval process.
Another participant asked why there is no consideration for feeding and wintering of immature replacement heifers or yearling bulls.
“They are needed for the maintenance of the cow herd as well as possible rebuilding,” they said.
Bennett said that the immediate concern, when developing the programs, was to keep people from the need to cull mature or bred cows. They focused on the immediate need to keep those animals.
He added that MARD was taking a two-pronged approach.
“Something to address the most immediate and then follow up with something later on addressing the further sustainability of the sector,” he said.
Details of what this long-term recovery program will entail are yet to be seen. On September 15, a spokesperson from Ag Minister Ralph Eichler’s office told the Co-operator details may not be available for “a few months.”
“Shouldn’t all programs be out at the same time?” one participant asked. They expressed concern that if they commit to an existing program, they may be disqualified for the recovery program down the road — even if it ultimately was a better fit for them.
Bennett advised them to be accurate when declaring animals they plan to overwinter, and to not declare animals they may cull.
Another question was why Manitoba opted for feed and transportation assistance while other provinces opted for a per-head payment.
“We were focusing on providing a potentially higher level of assistance for severely impacted producers,” Bennett said, “so that producers are eligible for up to the $250 per head for purchases and on top of that, for further assistance based on transportation for feed. So it does provide a more targeted and potential assistance for the more severely impacted producers.”
Other questions included if producers could recoup cost for harvesting and baling feed they purchased standing, or behind the combine — they can claim the cost of purchasing, but not harvesting costs — and if producers can claim costs for renting additional pastures — they can’t.
For more content related to drought management visit The Dry Times, where you can find a collection of stories from our family of publications as well as links to external resources to support your decisions through these difficult times.