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The Manitoba government has announced plans for a one-time Crown land rent credit for agricultural producers affected by drought and dry conditions in recent years.
Producers holding a forage lease or renewable permit on agricultural Crown land in the 18 municipalities that declared a local state of agricultural emergency in 2019 and intending to hold it in 2021 are eligible for a 20 per cent rent rebate.
According to a government news release sent out on Friday, this measure is expected to give back more than $530,000 based on their 2021 rental rates, with each client getting approximately $430 back on average.
"The last few years have been challenging for livestock producers, with dry conditions and new financial pressures," Agriculture and Resource Development Minister Blaine Pedersen said in the news release. "I’m pleased to announce that our government is introducing a number of measures to support beef producers in our province, which will build on other investments that recognize the importance of this sector to Manitoba’s economy."
Other than the rent credit, the government also announced the creation of a new pilot project that will evaluate the potential of index-based forage insurance projects, changes for the 2021 AgriInsurance contract to allow for individual productivity indexing for silage corn, a hay disaster benefit for the forage insurance program and an effort to increase awareness of forage insurance programs.
Also announced was the intention to allow for in-family lease renewals at the end of 15-year lease terms signed before Oct. 1, 2019.
Speaking to the Sun by phone on Friday, Manitoba Beef Producers general manager Carson Callum said the credit will help some but not all producers given that it does not help farmers with private land affected by drought. Increasing rental rates are also a concern for the organization.
"We have continued to advocate for a five-year transition period to the rental rate increase to help all the producers who have been impacted by this kind of steep incline of the rental rate," Callum said.
He said the COVID-19 pandemic is adding costs to every sector and it would no doubt be adding to expense for producers this year not to mention being a source of uncertainty and stress.
Later on Friday, Manitoba NDP agriculture critic Diljeet Brar said in an emailed statement that the measure does not go far enough in helping farmers.
"Manitoba beef farmers and their families in need of real and substantial support by the provincial government to keep their lights on and food on their table. After years of drought and no support, the funding announced by the government simply does not compare to how much the costs of crown land leases are increasing — not nearly enough to help save farms and ranches during this pandemic. The Pallister government needs to reverse their changes to Crown land leases and offer real investments in farms and producers so families survive this pandemic."
The province is soliciting feedback on agricultural Crown leases and permits as part of an online regulatory consultation until Nov. 16. Producers can provide feedback at reg.gov.mb.ca/detail/3313599.
» Twitter: @ColinSlark
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