Looking to help provincial livestock producers with the extreme costs of feed and transportation in drought conditions, the province has launched two new AgriRecovery programs.
Beef producers in Manitoba have faced "an extremely challenging and stressful year" due to droughts across the country affecting the availability of water and feed, along with pressures from harmful pests, said Manitoba Beef Producers general manager Carson Callum.
"Sourcing feed has been a major challenge and there have been various barriers associated with that," Callum said. "We’re hoping it (AgriRecovery) will allow producers to make business decisions as it pertains to their individual operations."
The Livestock Feed and Transportation Drought Assistance Program will help in the purchasing and testing of livestock feed to maintain breeding herds. The program includes the transport of feed from distant locations. It is designed to offset the freight expenses associated with moving livestock to alternative feed supply areas.
"To help producers with that feed sourcing or movement of animals, it will allow them to keep their breeding stock over the winter months," Callum said.
The Livestock Transportation program offers aid to producers with the costs of transporting breeding animals to alternate locations to feed, up to a 1,000-kilometre distance. The program does not cover moving animals to market or sale.
Speaking candidly, Callum has heard of producers facing cost increases anywhere from twice to three times the typical cost of feed.
Producers are already feeling the effects of increasing feed prices. Over the summer, the province saw some regions open auction marts for the sale of cattle, outside their typical months of operation.
These openings were largely driven by producers needing to move cattle due to struggles finding feed, along with pastures and dugouts facing extreme heat and lack of moisture.
"Due to the availability and cost associated with the feed out there right now. That’s really the purpose of this first step of the program. Whether it’s to provide the actual assistance for the actual cost of feed, assistance for the freight of bringing it into your farm, or if you have to move animals off-farm to an area that was more abundant in feed or made more economic sense," Callum said.
A recovery in the industry is currently at the whims of mother nature. Producers will need to see strong moisture in the province over the coming months, charging up the ground up for the next production year. Callum added he is hoping for a decent snowfall in the winter to create good spring runoff to fill dugouts, so producers can get off to a better start in 2022.
The Livestock Feed and Transportation Drought Assistance Program includes breeding animals of beef and dairy cattle, horses raised for pregnant mare urine, goats, sheep and bison. A minimum of 10 animals must be supported to qualify for assistance.
The Manitoba government said on a per head basis, a producer share will be applied at $50 per head for beef and dairy cattle, bison and horses and $10 per head for sheep and goats. Payments will be equal to 75 per cent of the purchased cost of feed and feed testing that exceeds the producer share to a maximum per head payment. The maximum payment is $250 per head for beef and dairy cattle, bison and horses and $50 per head for sheep and goats.
The program covers feed and feed transportation expenses between June 1, 2021, and March 15, 2022. Feed must be delivered from at least 40 kilometres away and hauling feed for up to a maximum one-way of 600 kilometres.
Payments will feature a rate of $0.16 per tonne-kilometre for the first 100 kilometres of a haul, and $0.10 per tonne-kilometre for the remainder of a haul for up to an additional 500 kilometres.
Earlier this month, the Manitoba government announced an investment of $62 million under the AgriRecovery framework, designed to support drought-embattled livestock producers. AgriRecovery is part of the Canadian Agricultural Partnership agreement, with funding shared on a 60/40 federal-provincial basis.
"Manitoba producers care deeply about their livestock and these programs will help producers buy feed or to help get the feed they have purchased delivered to their animals, or get the animals to another location where feed is available," said Agriculture and Resource Development Minister Ralph Eichler. "This has been a tough year and we continue to take strides to support our producers in any way we can."
Keystone Agriculture Producers president Bill Campbell praised the provincial government for supporting Manitoba’s livestock producers.
"We believe that programs designed to address feed assistance and transportation as well as livestock transportation will be important to the success of Manitoba’s livestock sector in the years to come. These programs will help livestock producers with immediate feed and transportation needs as they plan for the long-term recovery of their operations," Campbell said.
"We appreciate the collaboration and commitment of farm organizations and all levels of government to address the challenges facing livestock producers across our province."
For more detailed program information on the new recovery programs contact the Manitoba Agriculture and Resource Development Service Centre at 1-84-GROW-MB-AG (1-844-769-6224) or visit manitoba.ca/agriculture for applications. Specific tools and resources for managing dry conditions are available at manitoba.ca/agriculture/dry.html.
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