The Saskatchewan government has announced it will match cash donations to help farmers and ranchers impacted by grassfires in the southwest part of the province last month.
Fires near the communities of Burstall, Tompkins and Leader burned approximately 80,000 acres of crop and pasture land on October 17th, killing around 770 cattle.
The province says it will match up to $100,000 in donations to the Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association’s Wildfire Relief Fund.
To date, the fund has received around $65,000 in cash contributions, with in-kind assistance, such as hay, fencing, and feed, bringing the total to an estimated $250,000.
“Under these circumstances and following this unprecedented event, our government believes contributing financially to this fund is the best, most flexible and fastest way to help affected farm families in the region,” said Larry Doke, Government Relations Minister, in a statement. “I encourage all Saskatchewan people to donate to this fund and to help our rural neighbours during a difficult time.”
“We sincerely appreciate the provincial government for what they’re doing today and thank them for finding an innovative way to help,” Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association President Shane Jahnke said, noting they will be accepting donations at their trade show booth during Agribition in Regina next week (November 20th-25th).
The province says it’s also providing the following support for people in the areas affected by wildfires:
- Non-permit harvested hay from the Qu’Appelle Coulee Ecological Reserve is being donated to help ranchers feed their livestock (Ministry of Environment);
- Grants of up to $10,000 for the five affected RMs to support the disposal and burial of deadstock (Ministry of Agriculture);
- The Agriculture Operations Unit worked with RMs to locate suitable deadstock burial sites (Ministry of Agriculture);
- Assisting producers with range health assessments and grazing management plans, which will extend into the spring of 2018 for further assessment as pastures recover (Ministry of Agriculture);
- Producers who are eligible and want earlier access to their AgriStability benefit can file a 2017 interim application (SCIC);
- Allowing people who have volunteered to haul donated hay through the Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association to use their farm plates (SGI); and
- The Cypress Health Region offered mental health supports to those impacted by the fires (Ministry of Health).
APAS (Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan) has asked the federal and provincial governments to offer an AgriRecovery program similar to the disaster relief program offered to B.C. cattle producers earlier this fall, specifically the following:
- Extraordinary feed costs, including transportation of feed through the recovery
- Re-establishment of safe winter feeding facilities and general clean up
- Veterinary services, including soil and feed testing of areas affected by fire
- Livestock mortality and replacement of breeding stock
- Extraordinary costs required to return farmland to production, including critical infrastructure not covered by insurance, costs to repair private fences, and the re-seeding / re-establishment of tame forages and other perennials
The B.C. wildfire program provides all of the above, with a 60-40 funding split between the federal and provincial governments.