Doubts raised about farm flood aid
A well-known agricultural analyst in Saskatchewan says the millions in government aid announced for farmers this week will barely make a dent in this year's flooding disaster.
The federal and provincial governments announced Thursday that the province's flood-stricken farmers are in line to receive $360 million.
Saskatoon-based commodities analyst Larry Weber says that won't come close to compensating farmers for their losses.
"I don't think urban people realize the magnitude of what's happened out there," Weber said. "In some areas, it's going to be devastating."
Normally, about 32 million acres of land are seeded in the spring. This year, heavy rains in the spring made the soil too wet and prevented many farmers from getting out into their fields.
The result was that about 10 million acres of Saskatchewan farmland went unseeded this spring, while another two million acres that were seeded are under water and won't produce a crop.
"I've got some farmers that have e-mailed me that [have] 5,000 or 6,000 acres, that have managed to seed 500 or 600," he said. "Take a 90 per cent reduction in your wage in a year and see how fast and how far that 10 per cent is going to carry you."
Many farmers will receive money from crop insurance — about $50 per acre — in addition to the newly announced government aid.
However, Weber said, right now the most they can insure is 65 per cent of the value of their crop. What's needed is an insurance plan that let's them insure 100 per cent of the value.
Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister Bob Bjornerud said Thursday that the government will act quickly to get money into the hands of flood-stricken farmers.
"Any portion of their farming operation out there that's been flooded, they can apply for, and we'll have people go out and check it out," he said. "We'll audit them and a cheque will flow for those flooded acres."
The NDP Opposition, which had called for a $100 per acre payment earlier this year, accused the Saskatchewan Party government of turning its back on farmers.
NDP Leader Dwain Lingenfelter said the $30 an acre was a slap in the face. He compared the $360-million payment ($144 million provincial and $216 million federal) to the $1.2 billion the federal government spent on security for the G8 and G20 summits in Ontario.
The damage done by rain to the farm economy is mirrored by what's happening in cities, towns and villages that have been hurt by thunderstorms and flash floods.
On Thursday, Premier Brad Wall pegged the damage done to homes, business and infrastructure in the province at $283 million.