Top-up needed: Federal and Provincial Governments giving more to producers dealing with impacts of drought

Producers enrolled in the 2023 Canada-Saskatchewan Feed Program will be getting a top-up to help cover extraordinary costs for transportation of feed and help maintain the breeding herd.

The federal-provincial program was introduced October 20, 2023 in response to drought conditions felt across the province, especially in the southwest and west-central regions. The provincial government contributed $70-million and the federal government $77-million towards the program last fall.

Provincial Agriculture Minister David Marit says producers in areas identified under the Canadian Drought Monitor Map will get up to 50 dollars per head more and those in the provincial-only area will get up to 20 dollars per head.

“The feds had drawn a boundary on what R.M.s were in and what weren’t and in January they added (10) R.M.s but there was still some that weren’t in the program, so that’s where the 50 dollars will come in is for all those R.M.s that are under the federal umbrella,” Marit explained. “The ones that weren’t eligible the province had said ‘we’re going to pay our 80 dollars per head anyway’ so we’re going to pay our additional 20 dollars – we paid 60 and now we’re going to pay the additional 20 dollars to them. We’ll also reach out to the federal government to see if they’ll look at opening it up.”

Initial payments were prorated to a maximum of 75 percent of the total payment based on a producers’ application. When applying, producers had to submit proof of costs incurred for purchasing or transporting feed, or for land rented for additional grazing between May 1st, 2023 and the application deadline of March 15th this year.

There were 3,486 applications submitted and Marit says a good chunk of them are from the south, southwest, and west regions of the province.

The announcement was made Monday afternoon from the Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association Head Office in Regina. The Cattlemen’s Association played a role in the development of the Feed Program.

“This announcement today is appreciated because it helps provide those producers who applied for the program with more support going forward into the spring and throughout the year,” said Chad Ross, Vice-Chair of the Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association. “Increasing the eligible costs from 75 to 100 percent will definitely help producers plan for their herds this year and make it possible to access more feed if necessary.”

Ross, who is a producer from the Estevan area, told reporters he has used the program and without it, he would have had to reduce his herd “to make it through”.

“Being able to access these dollars to buy feed in our situation – we bought grain, screenings, some protein supplement that we could extend some of our lower quality forages – and it helped a bunch for us to retain the females that we had.” added Ross.

“SARM appreciates the top up funding to the Canada-Saskatchewan Feed program which will help livestock producers who are experiencing extra costs associated with drought,” Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities President Ray Orb said in a news release. “SARM values the ongoing commitment from both levels of senior government to Saskatchewan agriculture.”

Producers should expect to receive funds in the coming weeks.

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