Proactive Measures Could Mitigate Impact of Dryness on Cattle Numbers, Suggests APAS

As dry conditions take a toll on pastures and hay land in much of western Canada, the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan is calling on the provincial government to take steps to mitigate a possible feed shortage.

“With the weather pattern we are facing right now, livestock production will clearly decline given the feed and water available to producers at the moment,” said APAS president Norm Hall in a news release on Monday. “Immediate action by the government of Saskatchewan to look at stop-gap measures to maintain the current herd would demonstrate forward action and minimize the selloff of animals.”

APAS is requesting the following from the province (and conservation organizations):

  • That agricultural Crown leases be allowed to be subleased for 2015.
  • Allow for transfers of patron cattle from southern provincial pastures to northern pastures that may have shortfalls.
  • Open up of Saskatchewan Wildlife Development Fund Lands to grazing.
  • Encourage conservation agencies holding lands to make them available for agricultural use.
  • Early assessment and write-off of spring seeded crops by SCIC to allow for cattle grazing.
  • Initiation of a temporary fencing program to allow for crop lands to be grazed.
  • Increased promotion and awareness of the Forage and Grain listing service to match up individuals that need feedstocks with individuals having surplus supplies.
  • Where necessary, increased funding to the Farm and Ranch Water Infrastructure program to ensure adequate water supplies are maintained.

“We had hoped that higher cattle prices would help Saskatchewan producers to turn the corner and grow the livestock sector.” said Hall. “However, for many, there will be limited or no hay harvested this year. Livestock producers need to find grass and water for the summer months and find alternate hay sources for the coming winter months if our breeding herd is to be maintained.”

He urged producers with wet acres to consider seeding green feed and those with excess hay contact the forage and feed registry.

“When natural disaster strikes, collectively we rally to overcome the obstacles and help out our neighbours to get over the hurdles. Hopefully these measures, and others, will reduce the hurt caused by drought for our ranching community.”

RealAg’s Debra Murphy captured the dry conditions in her latest “Depth of Field” photo series last week (found here.) The latest Drought Watch map from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada also vividly portrays how little rain has fallen in much of the prairies this spring:

2015-06-15_aafc_droughtwatch_map

(click to enlarge)

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