Agriculture Minister for Saskatchewan David Marit announced today (August 10) that the province will provide $119 million in direct support for drought-affected cattle producers under the Agri-Recovery framework.

The province says the program will provide a per head payment to help maintain breeding stock and will help producers with extraordinary costs caused by the drought, such as accessing feed and water.

“We are acting swiftly to support Saskatchewan producers in retaining their breeding herd,” Marit says in a statement. “This program will provide immediate relief and help producers make decisions that are best for their operations. The livestock sector is a vital part of our agriculture industry, and a significant contributor to our provincial economy. We know producers are struggling and that is why we are taking action to support them during this challenging year.”

Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association chair Arnold Balicki says that the challenges of the drought are many and varied. “Water availability, water quality, feed for the short term and feed for winter among many others.  That’s why we requested a per head payment that will allow producers to manage their specific challenges. I am glad that working with Minister Marit has led to the Government of Saskatchewan responding to SCA’s request and hope to see the federal government come through with their matching funds,” Balicki says.

The amount per head will be finalized, pending federal agreement, and with full federal participation, it would be $200 per head to cattle producers, with a portion provided as an immediate per head payment, and the remaining amount issued later in the fiscal year, based on year-end herd numbers.

Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association president Kelcy Elford says that the drought puts Saskatchewan at a disadvantage when competing for feed against other buyers from outside the province, and welcomes the news for SSGA members, adding that the support will help level the playing field.

“Now we need the federal government to step up, and fast,” says Elford.

Funding will also be available to producers of other ruminant animals.

The Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation will deliver the AgriRecovery program.

Manitoba also announced its AgriRecovery commitment on Tuesday, at $72 million, while Alberta’s government earmarked $136 million on Friday.

AgriRecovery programs are to be funded on a 60-40 basis between the federal and provincial governments. The federal government committed $100 million to AgriRecovery drought relief last week, which would not come close to matching the provinces’ pledged amounts. Federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau has said she is open to seeking more federal funding.

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