Sask. groups call for drought aid

The Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association and Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan have both issued news releases saying help is needed now. | Map via agr.gc.ca/drought

Two Saskatchewan farm organizations are calling on governments for drought relief.

The Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association and Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan have both issued news releases saying help is needed now.

The SSGA said cattle producers know how to plan for and manage drought but consecutive years of it have forced their hands.

“Pastures are parched, hay and forage is scarce and feed costs are at record highs,” said president Kelcy Elford. “Most producers don’t have any carryover hay. Water quality and quantity are concerns in many areas of the province.”

He said the situation is more serious than typical yearly fluctuations. Some producers are cutting herd sizes by up to 40 percent.

Cattle producers called for assistance through crop insurance and the Farm and Ranch Water Infrastructure Program, saying the latter should be an 80-20 cost-share with higher caps in drought regions.

Elford said the criteria for the government to declare a drought disaster have been met and it should “respond with an expedited Agri-Recovery assessment and low-yield threshold approvals.”

The SSGA also said a tax deferral with a five-year minimum deferral period should be implemented.

APAS called for an AgriRecovery designation as well and said the livestock tax deferral program should be province-wide.

“We can’t just keep hoping for rain. It is time to act,” said president Todd Lewis.

APAS asked that the enrolment period for AgriStability be extended and that the government increase coverage levels.

It wants assistance with water supplies and water quality management and said a provincial drought committee including both government and industry representatives should be formed to oversee any assistance provided. Sask. Crop Insurance should fast-track the conversion of drought-damaged crops to livestock feed, APAS said.

“Producers across the province are under considerable stress,” Lewis added. “The government can’t make it rain, but there are concrete actions they can take to alleviate some of the burdens producers are dealing with,” said Lewis.

Contact karen.briere@producer.com


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