It's December 1st and flooded Manitoba livestock producers are still wondering when government assistance will be made available to help pay for feed to take their animals through the winter.
After multiple years of flooding in the Interlake and Westlake regions, heavy rains in spring prompted the Manitoba Cattle Producers Association (now the Manitoba Beef Producers) to begin lobbying for an excess moisture relief package. The MCPA, with support from Keystone Agricultural Producers and other farm groups, started calling for this assistance program around six months ago - in late spring.
In early July, the provincial and federal governments left livestock producers out of the Canada-Manitoba Excess Moisture Assistance Program, which helped crop producers mitigate the effects of excess moisture. Manitoba ranchers' frustration grew even larger when the Saskatchewan government announced a feed and forage assistance program for flooded livestock producers in early November. The program included funding for transporting feed and 30 dollars per acre for re-seeding pasture and hay land.
"I'm not going to settle for a puny program like my colleagues in Saskatchewan did," says Stan Struthers, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives. "I think we've been through more than what Saskatchewan has. In Manitoba, we have farmers who have gone 2,3 and 4 years without planting a crop and harvesting, without hayland and without pastureland. We're in a different situation and our situation calls for more support."
Through the AgriRecovery program, the federal government would cover 60 percent of the cost.
"I do not take the advice from the Conservative party who have said to just go ahead on our own. Farmers have had a tough time. We owe them more than just 40 percent of a program. We want to maximize this for farmers," he says.
Struthers says the province approved its part of the package prior to the end of August.
"Minister Ritz has been working very hard this summer and fall to get all his ducks in a row as well. He is committed to expediting their process to make sure that we move quickly."
~ Wednesday, December 1, 2010 ~