Alberta ranchers get help with TB costs

About $16.7 million in assistance has been committed to Alberta ranchers to help them deal with added costs due a bovine tuberculosis quarantine.

Help is coming through the AgriRecovery program to cover added costs for feed and disinfection as well as water and feeding facilities.

It can also cover the costs of calves that might be sent to a designated feedlot, where they would stay until they are ready for market.

In a news release Nov. 30, Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay said help is also available through the advance payments program. Affected producers can receive up to $400,000, with the first $100,000 being interest free.

The aid is designated for Alberta producers at this time. Saskatchewan has five herds in quarantine, and the province has not requested help.

“There were conversations, but there haven’t been any formal requests from producers at this time,” said Chad MacPherson, manager of the Saskatchewan Stockgrowers Association.

The financial situation for the affected Alberta producers is unknown as the quarantine expands to about 50 herds.

“At this stage, it is pretty difficult to estimate the total costs of holding quarantined calves because we don’t know how long the producers are going to have to hold them,” said Rich Smith, executive director of Alberta Beef Producers.

A large Alberta feedlot is being considered to take quarantined calves, where they would remain until they reach market weight and can be sold.

Details are still being worked out, but the feedlot must be bio-secure and capable of taking more cattle if the quarantine expands, Dr. Harpeet Kochhar, chief veterinary officer for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, said during a Nov. 29 Senate hearing.

About 22,000 head are under quarantine in southeastern Alberta and southwestern Saskatchewan.

About 10,000 cattle could be slaughtered and will likely go to federally inspected facilities. Any animals that reacted to a skin test will be examined before and after slaughter for additional signs of disease.

These will be rendered and do not go into the food chain, while those testing negative can go through normal channels and are safe for consumption, said Kochhar.

For more information, visit /advance-payment-program.html.

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