Drought-hit Canadian livestock producers get aid

by Bryan Salvage
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LLOYDMINSTER, ALBERTA – After facing two years of drought, livestock producers in Alberta and Saskatchewan will receive funding from federal and provincial governments to buy feed while damaged pastures recover as part of Canada’s AgriRecovery program.

"Ranchers in Western Canada know how to deal with all kinds of weather, but when they get hit hard with back-to-back droughts AgriRecovery is there to make sure they have the support they need," said Gerry Ritz, federal agriculture minister. "This investment will help producers buy the feed they need to keep their animals off the pastures while the grass recovers from the drought damage."

Livestock producers living in the eligible counties and municipal districts in Central and Northern Alberta and West Central and Northwest Saskatchewan will receive pasture assistance for breeding cattle, as well as assistance for other types of breeding livestock, totaling up to $114 million subject to size of the eligible livestock, under the 2010 Pasture Recovery Initiative. It is estimated there are more than 2.2 million breeding animals in the affected areas.

Portions of Alberta and Saskatchewan experienced challenging weather conditions in 2008 and 2009 that have resulted in delayed pasture development for 2010 in the hardest-hit areas.

"The drought conditions experienced during the last several years have been a challenge for many producers in the province and it is important that we address this type of extreme situation through risk management initiatives," said Jack Hayden, Alberta Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development. "This AgriRecovery payment to livestock producers in the extremely dry areas will allow them time to evaluate pastures and make alternate plans or decisions related to their operations."

"I witnessed first-hand the dry conditions in several parts of West Central and Northwest Saskatchewan during my drought tour in 2009," said Bob Bjornerud, Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister. "The drought had a major effect on livestock producers in the designated area and this initiative will help them address the resulting additional feed costs."

The program will be administered in Alberta by Agriculture Financial Services Corporation, and by the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture in Saskatchewan.

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