No ad hoc programs, says Sask. ag minister

Saskatchewan will not be offering emergency financial assistance to farmers who are facing potentially crippling harvest losses caused by bad weather.

Saskatchewan’s agriculture minister, Lyle Stewart, said the province recognizes that many farmers are facing a tough and stressful situation.

However, the province has no intention of providing ad hoc support.

Existing safety net programs such as crop insurance and AgriStability should provide adequate protection, provided that farmers are using those programs.

“As far as ad hoc programs, there won’t be any,” Stewart said last week (Oct. 14).

“In some areas, this is quite serious, there’s no question about it, but we’re not going back to ad hoc programs regardless.”

“That’s the way it is and that’s what we’ve said now for nearly 10 years.”

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Rain, snow and generally miserable harvest weather has dealt a harsh blow to many prairie farmers this year, particularly in western Saskatchewan and northern Alberta.

In Saskatchewan alone, grain and oilseed producers had close to five million acres left to harvest as of Oct. 18.

Last week, markets analyst Larry Weber from Weber Commodities Ltd., pegged the value of unharvested grain and oilseeds at approximately $2 billion in Saskatchewan and $1.6 billion in Alberta.

In a recent interview, Stewart said he has seen those estimates.

“I’d say that might be true, if we don’t get any more combined but I’m still expecting a couple or three weeks of pretty decent weather in here some place …,” he said.

In many parts of Saskatchewan and Alberta, growers have all but given up on harvesting any more grain this year.

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In addition to lost or deferred farm incomes, many growers are now facing the possibility of starting 2017 behind the eight-ball.

“We might be in a disaster situation here that rolls into spring and creates even another problem where you’re trying to combine vast amounts of acres in the spring and then you’re supposed to turn around and seed it all,” said Saskatchewan grower Jeff Simpson.

“There are vast amounts of unharvested material out there and sooner or later, it will all have to managed with a combine.”

“Right now, there are literally hundreds of millions of dollars worth of commodities sitting out there … and based on what I’m looking at right now, I can’t see any way that we’re going to get anything else off — at least not in this area.”

Simpson, who farms near Ruthilda, Sask., about 150 kilometres west of Saskatoon, still had two-thirds of his crop left to harvest as of late last week.

Contact brian.cross@producer.com

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