APAS says new drought assistance measures from Federal Government don’t go far enough

The Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan(APAS) was pleased to see the Government of Canada offering additional support for producers who are facing a relentless drought this growing season.

However, the organization says those measures don’t go far enough in offering assistance to all producers in Saskatchewan who are in some way impacted by the drought.

“I think it’s a good start,” APAS vice-president Ian Boxall said. “I think anytime the government shows support to the ag sector it’s a step in the right direction.”

In a release, APAS President Todd Lewis stated the supply chain is at risk and the measures don’t do enough to recover from this year and insure the supply chain also recovers.

On Thursday, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada announced early designation of the Livestock Tax Deferral provision to assist cattle producers who have to sell a significant amount of their breeding herd due to lack of feed supply. According to a Federal Government release this will allow beef producers who are forced to sell a significant amount of their breeding herd due to drought conditions to offset the resulting revenues with the costs to replace the herd.

Boxall explained that he would rather see a program that gets money into producers’ hands so they can afford to buy feed that will be seeing higher prices due to supply and demand.

“I don’t want to see a tax deferral where producers, when they have to sell their herd due to lack of feed, then defer the tax,” Boxall said. “I would rather see a program in place where these producers can get access to some feed, (and) have the funds in place to buy feed. As we know, when feed gets short it goes up in price, and I would much rather see our livestock herds sustained rather than sold off.”

Boxall, who farms near Tisdale said that the current conditions are the worst that he can remember.

“Let’s sustain the herds and sustain our food sector. This is our food. Make sure we have secure food moving forward,” he added.

APAS also believes the early designation stops short of needed enhancements to the program, which include eligibility for yearlings and other classes of cattle as well as an extension of the deferral period from one to five years.

APAS also takes issue with the area designated for eligibility which excludes 47 per cent of RMs in Saskatchewan. These are excluded because not all Rural Municipalities have cattle production in them.

APAS is also requesting the Government of Canada undergo fast consultation with producer groups in its AgriRecovery assessments.

Thursday’s announcement from the federal government included calls for provinces to makes changes to Reinsurance APAS recognizes the Government of Saskatchewan has already made changes to help expedite the conversion of insured crops into green feed and other feed supplies.

APAS was pleased with the measures around crop insurance in Saskatchewan but the drought problem is getting worse before it gets better.

“We are talking widespread drought,” Boxall said. “We are like, ‘let’s get the producers in the areas that don’t have big cattle production in touch with the ones where there is, and let’s get more feed back up.’ As the wind blows and as the temperatures stay up around 25 to 30 like we are seeing this year, it is only a matter of days before it is too late.”

APAS is reiterating its call for an increased AgriStability compensation rate from 70 per cent to 80 per cent along with an extension of the enrolment deadline.

“I would encourage the province and the feds to work together to trigger Ag Recovery, get these producers some support and let them figure out what is the best way to manage their herd. Whether it is to buy feed or sell stock, let’s make sure they have the tools so they can make the best decision for their operation,” Boxall said.