More than 900,000 acres will go unseeded in 2014 as a result of floodwaters in Manitoba, according to Keystone Agricultural Producers president Doug Chorney.
Speaking to 50 producers at KAP’s general council meeting in Brandon yesterday, Chorney said approximately 2,400 Excess Moisture Insurance (EMI) claims have been made totalling $60 million on 920,000 acres.
In 2011, three million acres went unseeded, while another half of a million acres drowned after seed hit the ground. While the unseeded acres are down this year, Chorney expects the number of drowned acres to steadily increase as water wipes out seeded crop.
Barley and canola have been most affected by the wet weather, while soybeans are well behind in maturity, and wheat continues to be the most resilient.
Most concerning for Chorney is the support farmers will receive for unseeded acres.
“I’m worried that we’re not going to be eligible for any AgriRecovery benefits on any EMI acres,” he said.
“Part of the changes in Growing Forward 2 was that no AgriRecovery program could flow into insurable losses. Because there is an insureable loss option, it’s likely there won’t be any support for those unseeded acres.”
As for the cause of the flooding, there continues to be pointed fingers at Saskatchewan.
“I’ve been called by Saskatchewan farmers that have told me their neighbours are flooding them from every direction and no one is giving them any help and the government isn’t taking any action,” Chorney said.
“We need to work hard to talk to Saskatchewan and explain what we need to see happening because we can see measurable changes in velocity of water flows.”
The increased speed has created more washouts than even 2011, according to Chorney.
“It’s not uncommon for a farmer to buy a scraper to cut some swales in their fields and I’ve heard there are producers in Saskatchewan who have excavators and are digging major channels to move water off their land,” Chorney said.
Stan Cochrane, president of the Assiniboine Valley Producers, said Manitoba needs to get tougher on Saskatchewan and what he and many farmers perceive as lax drainage regulations and enforcement for our neighbours to the west.
Another 50,000 acres of land was lost along the Assiniboine River from the Shellmouth Dam to Brandon.
Cochrane concedes this year there was little that could be done due to the amount of rainfall that fell in such a condensed timeframe, but that water speeds have increased and Manitoba cannot continue to be a dumping ground for Saskatchewan water.
“The government is bragging that they have a bunch of hydrologists in Winnipeg and they still can’t figure out where the water is coming from,” he said.
“The drainage is having a big effect. We’ve been telling the province for years that they have to do something about it and we’re doing absolutely nothing about pressuring Saskatchewan.”
Brandon-Souris Conservative MP Larry Maguire, who also spoke during the meeting, is calling on the governments of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and North Dakota to form an Assiniboine River Basin Commission.
“The time is now to come together with various stakeholders and for government officials to have a seat at the table,” Maguire said.
“It is true that borders divide Manitoba from Saskatchewan and Canadian provinces from American states, but the flow of water and the need to respond to the potential damage should unite all of us in a common purpose and mission.”
» Twitter: @CharlesTweed