|Help is on the way for Saskatchewan producers struggling with potential losses due to extreme drought conditions.
Agriculture Minister David Marit announced additional insurance supports for farmers during a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
“At the moment, conditions are still extremely dry and both crops and pastures need moisture. The Government of Saskatchewan is looking at all the options available to support the producers at this time,” Marit said.
Marit said the Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation (SCIC) is currently working with producers to ensure damaged crops intended for harvest can be put to alternative uses such as silage, baling or grazing.
SCIC will also be doubling the low yield appraisal threshold values, for customers who salvage severely damaged crops for feed.
“We encourage grain producers to work with neighbouring livestock producers to make feed available,” Marit said.
In the Ministry of Agriculture’s June 8 crop report, the government said crops are prematurely drying down because of heat stress, and significant rainfall is needed to avoid irreparable crop damage.
It added that although the dry heat has allowed crops to advance, yield potential and crop quality will be impacted.
The minister said the government is also temporarily increasing the maximum funding livestock producer can receive from the Farm and Ranch Water Infrastructure programs for dugouts, wells and pipelines.
Between April 1, 2021 and Oct. 31, 2021, the maximum rebate will be tripled to 150,000.
“The first 50,000 will be based on a 50-50 cost-share and the remaining 100,000 will be on a 70-30 government-producer cost-share,” Marit said.
The Government of Saskatchewan said it also formally requested the federal government designate the entire province as eligible for the Livestock Tax Deferral program, to assist producer who may need to liquidate some of their herd due to feed or water shortages.
Marit encouraged producers to take advantage of the provinces existing programs, primarily the business risk management programs under Crop Insurance, AgriStability and AgriInvest.
Producers can also call specialists at their regional Ministry of Agriculture office for more information about alternative feeding strategies, pasture management assistance with water testing and the interpretation of feed and water test rules.
The announcement comes following a call for help from the Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association (SSGA) on Tuesday.
Garner Deobald, SSGA vice-president, said multiple, consecutive years of well-below average precipitation has lead to dry pastures and a lack of hay and forage for cattle, as well as water quantity and quality concerns.
Some producers may even be forced to reduce their herds by up to 40 per cent.
“There’s going to fallout from this for many years. It takes a long time to recover from a drought like this,” Deobald said, in an interview Tuesday.
The SSGA called on the provincial and federal governments for enhancements to Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation programs and the Farm Ranch Water Infrastructure Program.
The federal Ministry of Agriculture said it is looking at the request, and hopes to have more to add in the coming days.
In a statement Tuesday, Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said “farmers in Canada have access to a range of federal-provincial Business Risk Management programs, such as AgriInsurance, AgriStability and AgriInvest… We will continue to work closely with our provincial and territorial partners in monitoring this evolving situation closely.”
The Ministry of Agriculture reminds producers the Farm Stress Line is available 247 for confidential support, toll free at 1-800-667-4442. Calls are answered by Mobile Crisis Services in Regina.