Province announces $119 million in support for cattle producers

Herald file photo.

On Tuesday, provincial agriculture Minister David Marit announced $119 million in direct support for drought-affected cattle producers under the AgriRecovery program.

The program will provide a per head payment to help maintain breeding stock, and help producers with extraordinary costs caused by drought, such as accessing feed and water.

AgriRecovery is part of the Canadian Agricultural Partnership agreement, with funding shared on a 60-40 federal-provincial basis.  The federal government is requested to provide an additional $178 million for a total program of $297 million.

“We are acting swiftly to support Saskatchewan producers in retaining their breeding herd,” Marit said in a release.

“This program will provide immediate relief and help producers make decisions that are best for their operations. The livestock sector is a vital part of our agriculture industry, and a significant contributor to our provincial economy. We know producers are struggling and that is why we are taking action to support them during this challenging year.”

In addition to cattle producers, funding will be available to producers of other ruminant animals.  

The Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation (SCIC) will deliver the AgriRecovery program.

Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association (SCA) chair Arnold Balicki welcomed the news.

“Right from the start, the Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association recognized that the challenges of this drought are many and varied: water availability, water quality, feed for the short term and feed for winter among many others,” Balicki said. “That’s why we requested a per head payment that will allow producers to manage their specific challenges. I am glad that working with Minister Marit has led to the Government of Saskatchewan responding to SCA’s request and hope to see the federal government come through with their matching funds.”

“We welcome the announcement of Saskatchewan’s AgriRecovery programming and we thank the Government of Saskatchewan for their continued support of the livestock industry,” Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association President Kelcy Elford said.  “This support will help producers navigate these unprecedented times and help level the playing field with other jurisdictions (provinces/states) that we are competing with for feed sources.”

The amount of the per head payment will be finalized pending federal agreement.  With full federal participation, it would be $200 per head to cattle producers, with a portion provided as an immediate per head payment and the remaining amount issued later in the fiscal year based on year-end herd numbers. 

The Government of Saskatchewan looks forward to working closely with the federal government to ensure that our producers receive the support they require.

The province plans to issue an initial payment of $100 per breeding female with the remainder being available when the agreement is finalized and after confirmation the breeding herd is retained.  The federal government on August 6 committed $100 million in federal AgriRecovery dollars would be shared across all affected provinces.

Pastures and crops in many areas have been severely affected by drought across the province. Many dugouts are dry or have poor water quality due to a lack of spring runoff and little rainfall, combined with hot, dry weather throughout the summer.

As a result, Saskatchewan previously announced temporary increases in the maximum rebates for livestock producers under the Farm and Ranch Water Infrastructure Program for dugouts, wells and pipelines for agricultural use, from $50,000 to $150,000.

In addition to the AgriRecovery program, the Governments of Saskatchewan and Canada previously announced an increase to the 2021 AgriStability interim benefit payment percentage from 50 per cent to 75 per cent, so producers can access a larger portion of their final AgriStability benefit early. 

Saskatchewan also introduced changes to the Crop Insurance Program to divert low-yielding crops to feed use.  

“I encourage crop producers to consider how these changes could work for your operation or enable you to help a neighbour.  Across the province there is a need for feed and straw this winter and, if you have feed, many websites and social media groups can connect you with livestock producers who are in need,” Marit said.

AgriRecovery is a federal-provincial-territorial disaster relief framework under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, and is intended to work together with the core business risk management programs of Crop Insurance, AgriStability and AgriInvest to help producers recover from natural disasters.

Details on how producers can apply for the program will be made available in the coming days.