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Brandon Sun - PRINT EDITION

Hard-hit RMs seek gov't help as rain takes toll on farmers

A wall of water continues to wallop Westman.

Fields in the RMs of Albert, Arthur and Edward are taking the brunt of the precipitation, and it’s starting to take its toll on farmers too.

"People are on edge, which is understandable, this is their livelihood," said RM of Arthur Reeve Jim Trewin. "Not only does it affect the farmer, it affects the grain companies and all the industry that goes along with it like the custom (combiners) and the grain haulers."

Some farmers won’t be able to plant a crop again. Parcels of land haven’t seen seed since the disastrous flood of 2011.

Trewin, a retired farmer who now helps his sons seed 4,000 acres southwest of Waskada, said the water is coming from the west.

With more rain forecast in the area and throughout the drainage basin, the problem may get worse before it gets better.

Much of southern Manitoba is expected to receive 40-50 millimetres of rain before July 1, according to the latest flood report.

Trewin understands that drainage practices are playing a major role in the epidemic of local floods.

"Everyone wants to drain," Trewin said. "I farm and if you have valuable land then everyone has the intention of trying to get as many acres in as they can. I can’t point my finger, but it should be done legally."

The only way to solve the problem is to provide incentives for the collection of water, he said.

"The only way it’s going to work is if farmers are compensated to store water," Trewin said. "Until the government steps up to the plate, they can talk about it all they want, but is a farmer going to take 100 acres out of production and store water so that someone else can farm their land? They have to be compensated."

In a letter written by the reeves of the three RMs to the province, they request the government’s "assistance to address the areas where we can influence and have some control to lead to a solution or to minimize the economic impact in our region."

It also says the Manitoba Crop Insurance program isn’t designed to address systematic flooding over successive wet years.

Deductibles under the Excess Moisture Insurance program increase five per cent each consecutive year there is a claim. Trewin said there are some producers who essentially cannot insure 25 per cent of their acres because it has flooded five years in a row.

The province has extended the State of Local Emergency in the RMs of Arthur and Edward, according to Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation spokesman Jean-Marc Prevost.

"The RMs have noted concerns about drainage from Saskatchewan and Minister (Steve) Ashton along with various other officials are pursuing the issue with their Saskatchewan counterparts."

AgriStability and AgriInsurance are the first lines of defence for producers, he said.

"Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Development will continue to work with producers on a case-by-case basis to identify alternate crop options such as greenfeed," Prevost said.

"The department also works with commodity groups like Manitoba Beef Producers to monitor pasture conditions."

» ctweed@brandonsun.com

» Twitter: @CharlesTweed

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition June 28, 2014

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A wall of water continues to wallop Westman.

Fields in the RMs of Albert, Arthur and Edward are taking the brunt of the precipitation, and it’s starting to take its toll on farmers too.

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A wall of water continues to wallop Westman.

Fields in the RMs of Albert, Arthur and Edward are taking the brunt of the precipitation, and it’s starting to take its toll on farmers too.

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