Program, which was announced last week, is designed to help cattle producers and beekeepers access feed this winter
Manitoba producers say that without emergency cash from AgriRecovery, more farmers would be forced to sell cows and buy expensive replacement beehives.
“Producers need to be securing that winter feed,” said Tyler Fulton, president of Manitoba Beef Producers, as the program’s details were announced outside the provincial legislature last week.
“This AgriRecovery program should help with that.”
Money from the federal-provincial safety net program will help pay for feed and for moving animals to feed sources through the Livestock Feed and Transportation Drought Assistance program and the Livestock Transportation Drought Assistance program.
It will be available for farmers feeding more than 10 animals and covers June 1, 2021, to March 15, 2022. Feed must come from at least 40 kilometres away, to a maximum of 600 kilometres. Cattle can be moved up to 1,000 km.
The $62 million of provincial funding previously announced will create a $155 million program when the federal portion is included.
Beekeepers will also receive funding for supplemental feed they have to buy to keep hives healthy and producing eggs this summer and fall.
Manitoba Agriculture Minister Ralph Eichler said a “cow herd rebuilding” program should soon be announced once the details are finalized with the federal government.
“The whole idea behind it, the premise, is to maintain our herd numbers in Manitoba,” said Eichler. There are about 800,000 cows in the province.
The province also wants to protect its beehive numbers, which are currently about 100,000.
Farmer representatives from Manitoba Beef Producers, Keystone Agricultural Producers and the Manitoba Beekeepers Association all praised the new programs.
“This bit of help from the government, it’ll be a godsend for the beekeepers that just don’t have the cash,” said Paul Gregory, a beekeeper from the Interlake region.
When there are few flowering crops in the field, bees have trouble finding enough feed to produce sufficient eggs to provide the next year’s bees. That can force beekeepers to buy new hives, and that can cost $250 per hive. Helping pay now for supplemental feed is a great way to avoid pushing farmers to either buy new hives or cut their hive numbers.
“If you’re lacking pollen or feed, you’re going to have a weak hive and you’re not going to have the young bees for next spring,” said Gregory.
Manitoba’s Interlake is the worst affected region in Manitoba and probably all of Western Canada. The area has major cattle and beekeeping industries.
Fulton said the recent rain has allowed farmers to focus on selling calves early rather than depopulate cow herds. Still, many cows are moving off farms that have far too little feed to survive the coming fall, winter and spring when supplemental feed will be necessary.
“We need help to deal with the very serious effects of this drought,” said Fulton.
“This has been a very stressful situation for everybody involved.”
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