More than $120 million in AgriRecovery drought relief funds still available in Manitoba

(Kara Oosterhuis/RealAgriculture)

Manitoba farm groups are reminding cattle and other grazing livestock producers to apply for AgriRecovery drought assistance funds announced last summer by the federal and provincial governments.

The province committed $62 million, while the federal government said it would provide up to $93 million, for total AgriRecovery drought support of around $155 million in Manitoba.

As of March 23, $32.16 million had been paid out on 2,508 eligible claims, according to a spokesperson for the Manitoba government.

While Saskatchewan and Alberta chose to offer per-head payments, Manitoba implemented a more targeted approach, with an emphasis on rebuilding the breeding herd.

As reported last week, Manitoba Beef Producers, Keystone Agricultural Producers, and the Manitoba Forage and Grasslands Association have been reminding cattle producers about the drought assistance programs, not wanting the funds to go unclaimed.

“It’s definitely a concern of mine,” noted Manitoba Beef Producers’ president Tyler Fulton. “There’s no doubt that Manitoba took a different approach (than Saskatchewan and Alberta), a more targeted approach, to address the issue and support the breeding herd. I guess we’ll have to find a way to see how effective it is, what the uptake is, but at this point, the goal is just to get as many producers enrolled that can be. That’s what those funds are for, to support those cow-calf operations that that really took a hit in the drought.”

Most of the payouts in Manitoba so far — $29.9 million — have been for feed assistance, while nearly $2.2 million has been paid for feed transportation, and around $23 thousand for transporting livestock.

The province announced an expansion to the list of eligible expenses, as well as an extension to the deadline for eligibile expenses from March 15 to April 15, in early February. The deadline for submitting claims for feed purchases, feed transportation, and extraordinary expenses has been extended to May 13, 2022.

The program now covers costs related to rentals of additional crop or pasture acres, temporary fencing for supplemental grazing, hauling water, harvesting extra acres, or hauling self-produced feed from distant locations. The list of eligible feeds has also been expanded to include feed additives and premixes, molasses-based products, vitamins, minerals, and oils and fats.

The breeding herd buy-back program that was announced at the end of November 2021 has a longer timeline, as it will be based on the net increase in breeding female inventory between March 16, 2022 and January 31, 2023. Producers who meet the program criteria can receive payments of $250 per replacement breeding female in beef cattle, bison, and elk, and $50 per breeding female to rebuild sheep flocks and goat herds to pre-drought numbers.

“The Department of Agriculture anticipates a large growth in the number of assistance applications coming in during the next couple of weeks, as producers assess their bills and work on their income tax returns,” says the provincial spokesperson.

You can find more info on the provincial AgriRecovery programs here.

Related: Cattle producers resort to cattails, straw, and other creative feed sources while waiting on green pastures

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