The Manitoba government has opened up the process for applications and unveiled details on how livestock producers can receive funding through a pair of AgriRecovery drought programs designed to help producers move feed to their animals, or animals to feed.

Agriculture and Resource Development Minister Ralph Eichler shared the news alongside leaders from Manitoba Beef Producers and Keystone Agricultural Producers at the Legislative Building on Tuesday morning (watch the announcement below.)

“Manitoba producers care deeply about their livestock and these programs will help producers buy feed or to help get the feed they have purchased delivered to their animals, or get the animals to another location where feed is available,” said Eichler. “This has been a tough year and we continue to take strides to support our producers in any way we can.”

The Livestock Feed and Transportation Drought Assistance program will help Manitoba producers purchase, transport, and test feed to maintain their breeding herd. The program is retroactive to June 1, and will extend until March 15, 2022. It will cover 75 per cent of the cost of feed and testing that exceeds a minimum producer share of $50 per head for cattle, bison, and PMU horses, and $10 per head for sheep and goats. In addition to covering the cost of feed, the program will also help pay for transporting feed — $0.16 per tonne kilometre for the first 100 kilometres, and $0.10 per tonne kilometer for the remainder of the load, up to an additional 500 kilometers.

Feed program payments will be capped at $250 per head for beef and dairy cattle, bison and horses (PMU only) and $50 per head for sheep and goats.

The Livestock Transportation Drought Assistance program, meanwhile, will help offset freight expenses from moving livestock to feed. Producers who move animals to feed between August 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022 can receive a mileage payment for distances up to 1,000 km. For breeding beef cattle, the mileage rate is $0.08 per head per loaded kilometre, while breeding sheep and goats will be eligible for $0.03 per head per loaded kilometre. Animals must stay in their new location for at least 30 days, and cannot be sold prior to returning to the location of origin when temporary feeding is complete.

Eichler said the province is also in the process of designing a cowherd-rebuilding program under the AgriRecovery framework to help livestock producers who are being forced to sell breeding stock  rebuild their herds starting in 2022. The details of this buy-back program are still under development.

AgriRecovery programs are funded on a 60/40 cost-share between the federal and provincial governments. Prior to the start of the federal election campaign, Ottawa earmarked $500 million for drought relief to be shared with the participating provinces.

For Manitoba, the province is contributing $62 million, while the federal government is providing up to $93 million, for total AgriRecovery drought support of around $155 million.

“Manitoba Beef Producers appreciates the release of the AgriRecovery program details and the opening of the application process. These programs will help address some of the extraordinary costs beef producers have been incurring due to the drought conditions,” noted Tyler Fulton, president of Manitoba Beef Producers. “Producers are making important management decisions for their operations heading into the next few months, and having access to these programs will certainly help with that process.

Fulton said MBP is also looking forward to “continued discussions with governments about how a herd recovery program will be framed.”

KAP also welcomed the announcement.

“These programs will help producers with immediate feed and transportation needs as they plan for the long-term recovery of their operations,” said Jill Verwey, vice president of KAP.

Eichler was asked why it took until the end of August to announce the details, as some producers have already been forced to sell animals.

“We did the best we could with the tools we had, and wish it could have been sooner,” he said.

Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister David Marit rolled out details of his province’s AgriRecovery response on Monday, which will see cattle producers eligible for up to $200 per head. Producers in Alberta are still awaiting info on applications, but the province said it would offer an initial $94 per head payment, to be followed by a second payment of $106 per head later in the year.

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