The Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association (SSGA) says the provincial government’s announcement of support for livestock producers who are facing disastrous drought conditions is welcome news.
Today Agriculture Minister David Marit announced the province will provide $119 million in direct support under the federal/provincial AgriRecovery program. The SSGA is urging the federal government to put forward its 60 per cent share of the funding, which would bring the total to $297 million.
“The Government of Saskatchewan announcement is welcome news for our members,” said SSGA president Kelcy Elford. “With poor grass and high costs for limited feed, livestock producers are facing a dire situation.
“The drought in Saskatchewan puts us at a disadvantage when we compete for feed against other buyers from outside the province,” Elford said. “Today’s announcement will help level the playing field.”
He said if ranchers are forced to sell off their cattle, Saskatchewan is facing the smallest beef herd since the 1980’s—a situation that threatens the overall sustainability of the sector. A large-scale reduction in herd size will jeopardize processing capacity in Canada, possibly forcing Canadian producers to ship animals to distant US packing facilities in the future.
“Minister Marit’s timely announcement will go a long way help producers navigate these unprecedented times,” Elford said. “It shows he recognizes the importance of the livestock industry to the provincial and national economy.
“Now we need the federal government to step up, and fast.”
The province-wide per-head payment, calculated on a sliding scale, will also be available to producers of other ruminant animals such as bison and sheep. Cattle producers can expect an initial payment of $100 per female breeding animal from AgriRecovery. We encourage the federal government to come in for their full 60 per cent cost share of the program so producers can access the full $200 per head.
The current drought has shown that existing safety nets are not adequate for livestock producers. But, Elford said, today’s announcement will help.
“These funds will provide some much-needed relief, and help avoid lasting negative impacts on the Saskatchewan livestock industry,” he said.