SSGA Puts Forward A Drought Survival Proposal To Government

Jul 29, 2021

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The Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association has submitted a drought survival proposal to the provincial and federal government.

President Kelcy Elford says this year's drought is severe and while they greatly appreciate government efforts to date, there is no end in sight for these extreme conditions and producers need to see additional measures now.

"We need additional, immediate action to be taken, including an announcement of AgriRecovery programming to ensure that livestock producers are able to make critical, time-sensitive business decisions. We have been closely reviewing existing policy and programs that can be adapted. We have confidence in our government. They listen to understand our problems and welcome actionable solutions."

Elford says he's toured the province from Yorkton to Rockglen, over to Consul and up to Cabri, the biggest question on people's minds is where's the feed going to come from.

He notes the drought affected area is widespread from British Columbia right across the Prairies and into Ontario and south to Mexico.

Elford says where's the feed going to come from and even if they find it, is it feasible to bring it from where it is. And so, we're going to see, sadly, a reduction in the herd size not because guys want to but because that's the only choice that they have left.

He wants to see the Federal Government expand the Livestock Tax Deferral Program announced last week to a five-year program to include all classes of cattle and regions of Saskatchewan.

While the Stock Growers greatly appreciate government efforts to date, he says, there is no end in sight for these extreme conditions and producers need additional action now.

"We are encouraging both levels of government to work with grain companies to remove any barriers that are preventing the salvage of feed from forward-contracted crops. We are also recommending that our governments collaborate with the shortline and national railway companies to find affordable transportation for relocating feed, feed grains and by-products to deficit areas in the province. Canada's livestock and grain sectors are integrated. We've always worked shoulder to shoulder. With mutual endurance in mind, we're calling on grain farmers to make below-average crops and straw available for feed."

The Saskatchewan Stock Growers drought survival proposal covers ways to improve the Farm and Ranch Water Infrastructure Program, additional enhancements for Crop Insurance, and proposals on how government can help with financial management and cash flow.

SSGA is calling for the following additional measures to help producers manage through the current disaster while providing opportunities for recovery. Here's how:

Farm and Ranch Water Infrastructure Program (FRWIP):

1) Decrease gross farm income eligibility requirement to $10,000;
2) Fund offsite watering systems without requirement for dugout expansion or riparian protection;
3) Include power installation for wells, water pumping and water hauling as eligible expenses; and
4) Provide additional technical support for planning and construction of water projects.
5) Expedite the regulatory approval process for FRWIP projects;
6) Pay government portion to contractors, directly;
7) Provide funding for temporary fencing to enable grazing of unharvestable crops.

Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation (SCIC):

1) Expedite assessment and adjustment on a regional basis;
2) Ensure grain producers inclusion for borderline yields; and
3) Adjust guaranteed base price to reflect current market prices.

Financial Management and Cash Flow:

1) Allow producers to make AgriInvest withdrawals tax-free;
2) Provide AgriStability advance interim payments;
3) Offer long term low interest loans to cover expenses incurred due to the drought and to help rebuild;
4) Extend payments on Farm Credit Canada (FCC) COVID loans, Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) and Advanced Payments Program (APP) cash advances; and
5) Work with financial institutions to support agriculture producers during these difficult times.

SSGA looks forward to working with both levels of government to come up with a long-term business risk management strategy for the livestock industry, including options for production insurance.

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