West Quebec cattle farmers still lack federal aid

Cattle farmers in West Quebec say they are frustrated with delays in receiving financial aid from the federal government.
Cattle farmers in Ontario and Quebec have been hoping for some aid from the federal government since the summer's drought. (CBC)

Cattle farmers in West Quebec say they are frustrated by delays in receiving financial aid from the federal government.

This summer the Quebec government asked to join the federal government's Agri-Recovery program to assist farmers hit by this year's drought.

The federal government said it would conduct an assessment once the harvest was complete and the impact of the drought was known, then use that assessment to determine whether farmers needed more aid.

But farmers say they have not heard an update since the summer.

Carolyn Closs, who owns one of the larger beef herds in the Pontiac with her family, said it has taken too long to turn the talk into action.

"We've really had nothing," said Closs. "And so, you know, I don't expect the government to pay for everything because we have to look after ourselves, but we just desperately need some assistance."

Closs said without enough hay to feed all of her cows, she has been forced to ship 140 of them to a farm in Manitoba for safekeeping, and has sold another 50 sooner than normal.

Producers can apply for tax deferral

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada said in August it would offer livestock tax deferrals to producers in the municipalities of Gatineau, Papineau, Pontiac and Les Collines-de-l'Outaouais, as well as 19 regions in Ontario.

But farmers said their more pressing need is getting hay to feed their herds.

Scott Stephens said he worries how he'll feed his 40 head of cattle and 70 ewes this winter. 

Carolyn Closs said she has had to make some difficult decisions this year since the drought. (CBC)

"I'm afraid that by the time they're done reviewing their file, it'll be over, and the producers will not be there anymore," said Stephens.

Pontiac farmers did get some good news this past weekend.

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture announced it is getting a federal and provincial government grant to ship donated hay east, and it is taking requests from farmers in West Quebec.