As drought conditions continue to affect farmers, agricultural producers in Western Canada are asking the federal government for help.
The Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan (APAS) and the Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association (SSGA) say they need funds to feed livestock and to compensate for crop losses and they want Ottawa to work with the province on support measures.
“Extreme heat and below-average precipitation is leading to feed and water supply shortages that are jeopardizing the viability of Saskatchewan livestock producers,” APAS wrote in a press release on Tuesday.
“(APAS) is requesting immediate government assistance to help producers cope with these extreme conditions.”
Specifically, APAS wants Ottawa to allow all Saskatchewan livestock producers to access the federal Livestock Tax Deferral program. Implemented in 2018, it allows producers to defer a portion of sales of breeding stock to the following year.
According to an Agriculture and Agri-food Canada spokesperson, “regions are prescribed for the deferral when forage yields are less than 50 percent of the long-term average, and the area affected is large enough to have an impact on the industry.”
Producers are also asking the federal government to work with its provincial counterparts to extend and enhance enrollment in AgriStability, which helps protect lost income for farmers either through increased costs or market conditions.
The SSGA is also pushing for enhancements to the Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation and the Farm and Ranch Water Infrastructure Program.
Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said the government is working with its provincial counterparts and reviewing these requests.
“Canadian farmers have access to a range of federal-provincial Business Risk Management programs, to help them deal with the financial repercussions of these challenges.
Our government recently led efforts among provinces to improve the income stabilization BRM program, AgriStability, so that it pays out more to farmers who need it the most. We continue urge Prairie governments to match the federal offer to raise the AgriStability compensation rate to 80%, which would benefit distressed farmers now more than ever.”
Bibeau will join her provincial counterparts for a conference call on Thursday, during which the ongoing drought is expected to be discussed.