Manitoba commits $62 million to AgriRecovery drought-relief programs

The Manitoba government says it will commit $62 million in provincial funding to AgriRecovery programs to help livestock producers affected by this year’s drought.

While details were not included in the August 10 announcement, Agriculture Minister Ralph Eichler says the programs will be designed to “ensure producers have options to retain and care for their animals while also supporting the longer-term sustainability of the livestock sector.”

Eichler says programs currently being developed will include funding for feed, feed transportation, cattle transportation, and a herd rebuilding program.

“This extremely dry weather has affected producers’ ability to find suitable pastures and feed for their animals which means that, without additional investment, producers are in the very difficult position of having to consider reducing their herds or leaving the industry altogether,” says Eichler. “There is no harder decision for a livestock producer. Our government is making this significant investment to ensure there are other options available, when they’re needed most. This builds on our existing programs and will help maintain livestock herds, ensure good animal care, and support Manitoba livestock producers to stay in their industry over the longer term.”

AgriRecovery programs are to be funded on a 60-40 cost-share basis between the federal and provincial governments.

Last week, federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau announced Ottawa has earmarked $100 million for drought programs through AgriRecovery. She also said she would be willing to seek further funding if needed, as Alberta announced $136 million in provincial funding on Friday, while also urging the federal government to significantly increase its portion.

Tyler Fulton, president of Manitoba Beef Producers, says MBP is looking forward to finding out more about how the programs will work.

“Today’s announcement is very important as it recognizes both the immediate needs related to the feed situation, as well as looks ahead to a time when producers will consider rebuilding their herds. We appreciate the government’s commitment to the future of our sector and look forward to seeing more program details,” says Fulton, in a statement issued Tuesday.

Keystone Agricultural Producers president Bill Campbell echoes Fulton.

“KAP welcomes the announcement that the provincial government is investing $62 million into the AgriRecovery program to support Manitoba’s livestock producers,” says Campbell. “KAP will continue to work with the provincial government, Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation and Manitoba’s farm organizations to ensure that programs address the challenges facing producers across our province.”

Auction markets in Manitoba have already reported large volumes of cattle coming to market. According to the province, total sales last week were up 17 per cent compared to last year, with numbers climbing much more significantly in the hardest hit regions.

Eichler notes sustaining the beef herd is a priority for the provincial government under its Livestock Growth Strategy and Manitoba’s Protein Advantage Strategy.

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