The Government of Alberta is making $136 million available under the AgriRecovery program, a joint program between the governments of Alberta and Canada, and has asked the federal government to provide an additional $204 million for a total relief package of $340 million.
Earlier in the day, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Marie Claude Bibeau announced the approval of the remaining $100 million in AgriRecovery funding under the current program structure. This initial announcement includes relief for Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, British Columbia and Alberta.
At this time, none of the provinces have made submissions public, but based on the Alberta program alone, Minister Bibeau will be seeking more dollars to backstop the fed’s 60% of the cost share.
AgriRecovery falls under the joint federal-provincial Canadian Agricultural Partnership. It is designed to cover extraordinary costs not covered by existing business risk management programs, such as those incurred due to extreme drought conditions or other natural disasters.
“We are experiencing the worst drought our country has seen in decades, leaving our cattle herd at great risk right from British Columbia across to Ontario. With beef producers making critical feed and herd management decisions for their operations right now, time is of the essence. We are urgently requesting that the Government of Canada secure additional funding under AgriRecovery to ensure drought and wildfire relief measure are sufficiently funded and designed to address the needs of beef producers,” says Bob Lowe, president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association.
If approved, the total amount would be $340 million split 60-40 between the federal and provincial governments. Alberta’s contribution is $136 million. Under a new AgriRecovery program, this will provide an immediate payment of $94 per head to help cover feed and water access costs for breeding females across the province.
Taking a receipt-based approach, a second payment of $106 per head will be allocated later in the year, for a total of $200, the province says. “This will help level the playing field against a U.S. feed subsidy and maintain our livestock herds in Alberta.”
In reaction to the announcement from Alberta, Minister Bibeau stated to RealAgriculture, “We applaud Alberta’s substantial investment to support producers during these challenging times. Our federal Government has been working around the clock with provinces to respond to the drought as rapidly as possible. As we made clear in our announcement today, we are ready with $100 million to match provincial AgriRecovery asks, and we are ready to seek further funding as needed. We will continue to support our producers to get them through the challenges we face in the short term, and to position them for a sustainable future.”
The program will be administered through the Alberta Financial Services Corporation. Application details will be unveiled after the federal government reviews the proposal.
In addition to the AgriRecovery announcement, the province announced that Alberta Environment and Parks has approved several temporary changes to grazing and water regulations to open new sources of feed for livestock.
Alberta Environment and Parks will now accept applications from existing grazing disposition holders, including leases, licences and permits, with additional grazing capacity to allow livestock from other producers who are in need of additional feed. Grazing disposition holders are encouraged to work with their neighbours and community to support each other where they can. Applications for temporary grazing or haying are also available on vacant public lands. Alberta Environment and Parks will also permit grazers in the forest reserve to extend the time for grazing where there is sufficient forage to do so.