Prairie farm leaders are calling on federal and prairie ag ministers to drop the "wait and see" attitude toward announcing excess moisture assistance for livestock producers. Cattle producers across much of Manitoba and Saskatchewan are facing feed shortages due to record-setting rainfall, while producers in Alberta's Peace River region face shortages after multiple years of drought. Producers in all three provinces also say the AgriStability program will provide no relief due to low reference margins.

Keystone Agricultural Producers president Rob Brunel discussed the moisture-related challenges with Greg Marshall, president of the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan and Humphrey Banack, Wild Rose Agricultural Producers president, earlier this week.

"We felt it was time to make a last push to get the federal ag minister and the three provincial ag ministers on side to provide some relief for producers," says Brunel. "There has been some progress here in Manitoba between the province and the feds but the other two provinces were not onside."

Provincial ag minister Stan Struthers says the province's part of any aid package was approved at the end of August, and that any announcement is now up to approval in Ottawa. Federal officials have said they can't assess the severity of the feed shortage until harvest is complete. Brunel says that time is now. "We pretty much see snow across the west and here in Manitoba, extremely wet conditions. I would say harvest is complete. It's timely to make a move on the issue and that assessment could be made," he says.

He says if no solutions present themselves soon, we could see a rapid downsizing of the cattle sector, similar to what happened in the hog industry over the last few years.

~ Thursday, October 28, 2010 ~