The flood of 2014 is going to cost Manitoba farmers a billion dollars, according to Doug Chorney, president of farm lobby group Keystone Agricultural Producers.
- Frustrations boil over at flooded out Manitoba farms
- Up to 3 million Saskatchewan farm acres flooded
Chorney said the latest figures confirm 920,000 acres are unseeded, but that's not the total amount of damage to farmland in this year's flood.
All together, KAP figures it least two million acres of Manitoba farmland is either not seeded or seeded but lost to water damage so far. And that number is expected to soar to three and a half million acres by the time it's over.
"We believe there will be a significant amount of seeded acres impacted," he said. "So that's 25 per cent of the arable acres in Manitoba. It's a big hit. We expect about a billion dollars of farm income will be lost this year.
KAP met with farmers in Brandon, Man., on Thursday to talk about what they are seeing in flood damages.
Chorney said KAP representatives spent Wednesday morning at the Manitoba Legislature talking to Agricultural Minister Ron Kostyshyn and his staff about setting up an agri-recovery program.
It's not a fast process to develop these programs. But we want to make sure we're providing the best information possible to government and a forum like this is exactly where we get that information.
Chorney said farmers want to use the 2011 flood recovery program as a baseline.
He said farmers are concerned about the second crest of the Assiniboine but expect it will be smaller than the first.
He said farmers knew well before the province sounded the alarm that flood waters were headed their way after heavy rains and recent storms from farm leaders in Saskatchewan that there was too much moisture and the tributaries were filling up.
"We knew we already were at a high water level in the province before that. So it was pretty obvious we were going to have a problem. Although I never envisioned we would be as severely damaged as we have been."
Farmers' stories differ, common thread is major stress
Dozens of farmers showed up Thursday to tell KAP about what they are seeing this year.
"We've lost 2,000 acres of production and that equates to over half a million dollars in gross revenue," said Walt Finlay who farms near Souris.
"I've lost 70 per cent of our seeded acres," Greg Fotheringham from Reston said. "Unplanted because of excess moisture."
Dwight Eisner from the Swan River area said he's lost close to a third of his crop.
And Lorne Rossnagel said it's not just his crop he's losing. It's also taking a toll on his livestock
"We have a lot of problems with bad feed and stuff, and trying to breed when they're in mud and water the insects alone are really putting a lot of stress on the cattle," he said.
Farmers can only apply for crop insurance if they get the crop in. So many are looking to disaster financial assistance for help.
But some, like Stan Cochrane, who farms near Griswold, Man,, are skeptical that will amount to much, if anything.
"We still never received a cent [from 2011]," he said.
Cochrane said farmers can only cash in on that kind of assistance when fields are artificially flooded. "It's kind of a two tier system as far as I'm concerned," he said.
Conservative MP for Brandon - Souris Larry Maguire called on the Assiniboine River Basin Commission to be proactive with future floods.