Details and timelines have yet to be determined, but the federal and provincial governments in Alberta and Saskatchewan have agreed to move ahead on offering AgriRecovery disaster relief programs for livestock producers affected by drought in 2023.
Both Prairie provinces submitted requests for AgriRecovery assessments in July. Any program under AgriRecovery is cost-shared on a 60:40 basis between the federal and participating provincial government.
The Saskatchewan government was the first out of the gate, committing up to $70 million on Monday in provincial funds to help offset the costs of feeding breeding livestock in the province.
“Immediate measures are needed as farmers and ranchers deal with significant challenges due to drought,” Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister David Marit said, in a statement on Monday. “Our government is committed to ensuring livestock producers have the support they need, as they continue to provide the high-quality food Saskatchewan families rely on.”
As of Monday, the Alberta government had not announced its contribution to a drought-relief program, but Agriculture Minister RJ Sigurdson published a letter on his social media accounts saying the province is “drafting program eligibility” to offset extraordinary costs for feeding the breeding herd, similar to the 2021 Canada-Alberta Livestock Feed Assistance Program offered under AgriRecovery. He says he expects to provide an update in mid-September.
Provincial and federal officials are still finalizing the technical details of how the programs will be rolled out in each province. Given the number of dollars involved, the federal portion of AgriRecovery funding will likely require approval from Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, who was in Alberta last week, and the Prime Minister’s Office — adding a level of uncertainty to the timeline for when funds may be made available to producers.
For its part, the Saskatchewan government says it intends to provide eligible producers with up to $80 per head to maintain breeding stock for beef cattle, bison, horse, elk, deer, sheep and goats, with Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation administering the program.
“We appreciate the province stepping up and providing their portion of the AgriRecovery payment,” said Keith Day, chair of the Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association. “We look forward to a similar announcement from the federal government to provide their funding to ensure our producers get the help they need through these challenging times.”
Further west, the B.C. government is still working with the federal government on assessing the need for an AgriRecovery program.
Also on Monday, federal Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay announced an initial list of regions in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba where the Livestock Tax Deferral has been authorized for 2023.
“My heart goes out to farmers and ranchers who are affected by these extreme weather conditions. Early designation of the Livestock Tax Deferral provision provides assurance so they can make informed decisions to manage their herds,” noted Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay, in a news release. “We have also enhanced support available under BRM programs and we will continue to work closely with provinces to get producers the additional support they need as quickly as possible.”
Under the Livestock Tax Deferral provision, a producer can defer income if their breeding herd has been reduced by at least 15 percent. A list of designated regions can be found here.