The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association welcomes Minister Bibeau's response to the impact of the drought, however, they caution this is just the beginning.
On Thursday, Minister Bibeau toured a drought affected area in Manitoba's Interlake region, after which she announced a number of drought relief measures, including the early designation for a livestock tax deferral program for producers who may be forced to sell a significant amount of their breeding herd due to the drought conditions.
Reg Schellenberg ranches at Beechy and is in one of the drought affected areas in Saskatchewan where he says the last time things got this bad was in 1988.
Schellenberg is also Vice President of the CCA and says the impact of the drought is hitting hard, crops are thin and poor, and hay production is a fraction of what it normally is.
"Sourcing feed is a challenge. Decisions as to how many to keep back for the winter will also be a big challenge. And so CCA saw the need across BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, as far as Western Ontario, to go to government and emphasize the intensity of this whole situation."
He notes the announcement on the initial deferral program needs to be broadened as there are still areas missing across the drought affected regions that need to be added.
The CCA also wants to see a multiyear tax deferral program in place that would cover all classes of cattle, not just the breeding herd.
"The producers that sell off their breeding herd, obviously they're going to sell in a pressured market downtrend. And if they want to replace the herd in two or three years, they'll be competing with a stronger market, and they've sold at a depressed price. So they're getting a double penalty, getting penalized twice for decisions they were forced to make. And that's why we see that there needs to be some additional rate changes to the tax deferral."
He says while he welcomes Bibeau's announcements, he cautions that this is just the beginning of what will be needed to help producers and the industry move through this.
"Canadian farms and ranches across the country are facing one of the most severe and widespread droughts and one of the largest feed supply shortages that they've experienced in decades. As the situation intensifies and gets more severe across the country, CCA along with the provincial organizations will be coming with more in detailed ask from government during this time of crisis and disaster."
Minister Bibeau also announced additional federal support for Agri Insurance making drought damaged crops available for feed.
Schellenberg says the CCA is very supportive of the crop insurance changes announced by the federal government and our provincial government.
"We have to recognize that Saskatchewan Minister, David Marit took the lead on this one, and Saskatchewan responded in a very timely manner. And we thank them for that. These changes align with our recommendations to salvage crops into livestock feed and added support for producers to purchase additional feed."
He notes trying to access feed supplies is going to be a big issue, given how widespread the drought is.
"You know, in previous droughts, producers have usually been able to go to the neighboring province for a feed supply. That's not an option right now in this situation. This drought is large enough that there's four main provinces that are all looking for feed at the very same time. And so the pressure is on to try and locate some, you combine that with the situation across the border in Montana, North Dakota, they too are in drought situations and trying to source feed as well."
Schellenberg says the CCA is working very closely with their provincial organizations on the drought issue.