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Provincial aid for livestock producers facing extreme drought

Financial support comes from the Canadian Agricultural Partnership's AgriRecovery program
cattle herd in cypress hills
Commercial cattle herd in the Cypress Hills. Producers in the southern portion of the province are all facing similar challenges.

On Tuesday, August 10th, Saskatchewan's Agriculture Minister, David Marit, announced $119 million to support cattle producers. The funding will provide producers with a per head payment. The program will aid producers financially to help maintain breeding stock.  

Livestock producers across the prairies are facing the effects of severe drought. Financial relief will enable producers to mitigate some of the challenges of the drought. 

"This program will provide immediate relief and help producers make decisions that are best for their operations. The livestock sector is a vital part of our agriculture industry and a significant contributor to our provincial economy." Marit said. 

This financial support comes from the Canadian Agricultural Partnership's AgriRecovery program. Under the partnership, provinces are asked to initiate funding and request the federal government provide additional funding. The AgriRecovery partnership between governments currently operates on a 60-40 federal-provincial basis.  

With this new announcement, the province requests that the federal government contribute an additional $178 to the program. This additional contribution would bring the total relief up to $297 million for Saskatchewan cattle producers. With the total federal assistance, the repayment amount will equate to $200 per head. 
The province plans to issue initial payments of $100 per breeding female, with the remainder becoming available when the final agreement comes into effect.

"Right from the start Saskatchewan Cattlemen's Association (SCA) recognized that the challenges of this drought are many and varied. Water availability, water quality, feed for the short term and feed for winter among many others. That's why we requested a per head payment that will allow producers to manage their specific challenges" said SCA chair Arnold Balicki. 

In addition to this new support program, cattle producers also can apply for the Farm and Ranch Water Infrastructure program, to which changes were announced in July. Dugouts, wells, and pipelines were previously funded at 50 percent of eligible costs, up to a maximum of $50,000. 

Retroactive from April 1st 2021, until March 31st 2022, the maximum rebate has increased to $150,000. The initial $50,000 will remain split at 50 per cent with producers, while the additional $100 000 will be covered at 70 per cent by the government.

Federal and provincial governments also announced an increase to the 2021 AgriStability interim benefit payment percentage from 50 percent to 75 percent, allowing producers to receive a more significant portion of their final AgriStability benefit sooner.

With the lack of access to quality forage and water for cattle in the province, livestock producers have endured what some say has been the most challenging year in decades. Several cattle producers have made the devastating decision to sell off some of their herd at low prices rather than pay for feed at much higher prices than average. 

Farmer and rancher groups have shared that the harsh economic conditions this year could significantly affect the cattle industry for years to come. 

"This support will help producers navigate these unprecedented times and help level the playing field with other jurisdictions (provinces/states) that we are competing with for feed sources." Said Kelcy Elford, president of the Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association. 

Details on how producers can apply for the program will be available in the near future.