Back to News

Sask. Stock Growers Association calling for government assistance amid extreme drought

Reference: CTV News

REGINA -- The Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association (SSGA) is calling on the federal and provincial governments to help livestock producers facing extreme drought conditions.

Garner Deobald, SSGA vice-president, said multiple, consecutive years of well-below average precipitation has lead to dry pastures and a lack of hay and forage for cattle, as well as water quantity and quality concerns.

“It’s been desperately dry here, and it’s something that has really been compounded over the years here, just with the lack of any significant moisture, whether that be amounts of snow for runoff in the spring or rainfall,” Deobald said.

Justin Hall, a Craven-area livestock producer, said he is worried about how he’s going to feed his cows into the winter.

“Our grass is starting to dry out. It’s basically pasture turning into nothing left,” said Hall. “Any of the feed that we can make, it’s pretty minimum (and it’s) starting to disappear.”

Hall said it’s so bad he may have to start selling off cows, or reach out to grain farmers for anything they may have left.

“Cows will eat just about anything. So, anything is better than nothing,” said Hall.

Furthermore, Deobald said a significant frost in June also set hay and cereal crops back, leading to even less food for cattle.

“We’ve used up all our reserve feedstocks,” said Deobald. “Part of the problem will be, is that (the drought) covers such a large part of Western Canada, really from eastern Manitoba into southern Alberta.”

Deobald said while some ‘pockets’ have had adequate rainfall, those spots are in the minority. He added that some producers may be forced to reduce their herds by up to 40 per cent.

“There’s going to fallout from this for many years. It takes a long time to recover from a drought like this,” he said.

That’s why the SSGA is asking for enhancements to Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation programs and the Farm & Ranch Water Infrastructure Program.

The federal Ministry of Agriculture said it is looking at the request, and hopes to have more to add in the coming days. In a statement, Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said “farmers in Canada have access to a range of federal-provincial Business Risk Management programs, such as AgriInsurance, AgriStability and AgriInvest…We will continue to work closely with our provincial and territorial partners in monitoring this evolving situation closely.”

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said the government has been having discussions with the industry on how the government can expedite crop insurance claims so producers can hay the crops to use as feed next year... Read More