Calgary

Alberta ranchers under bovine TB quarantine eligible for $16.7 million from feds

The federal government has made up to $16.7 million dollars available to ranchers in Alberta and Saskatchewan forced under quarantine after an outbreak of bovine tuberculosis.

Advance payment loans available immediately, as 10,000 cattled headed to slaughter

Alberta and Saskatchewan ranchers can apply for up to $16.7 million in assistance to cover financial losses after a bovine TB outbreak forces quarantine and cattle slaughter. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

Ranchers in Alberta and Saskatchewan forced under quarantine after an outbreak of bovine tuberculosis will be able to access $16.7 million in financial assistance, the federal government announced Wednesday. 

The financial assistance will help farmers cover costs caused by the quarantine, including feed for the animals, transportation, cleaning and disinfection, and interest costs on loans.The funding will be provided under the AgriRecovery Framework. 

Federal Minister of Agriculture Lawrence MacAulay made the announcement in Question Period, just more than a week after cattle rancher Brad Osadczuk testified before Parliament about the financial devastation to his ranching business.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) opened an investigation on Sept. 22 upon discovering the contagious bacterial disease originated from one of Osadczuk's herd in Jenner, Alta. 

An estimated 10,000 cattle are scheduled to be slaughtered across 40 ranching operations affected by the quarantine. 

The federal and provincial governments expect to have the program operational in the coming days.

"We're working diligently in putting together details of this program so that ranchers can receive the financial assistance as soon as possible," said Renato Gandia, from the Alberta Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

As well, advance payment loans are available immediately so eligible producers may receive an advance up to $400,000 with the first $100,000 interest free.

Under CFIA guidelines, farmers will be compensated for the animals they kill.

CFIA needs to do 'better job' communicating 

The executive director at the Alberta Beef Producers says more detailed information is on the way but he hopes the CFIA can learn from the incident.

"They are following up and taking information packages out to the individual producers," Rich Smith said.

"We have certainly been encouraging the CFIA to do a better job at communicating with the producers and better with their explanations."

Smith says at times, producers received information without explanation.

"I certainly sympathize with producers who just get a cell phone call saying your herd is part of the infected herd now and your animals will be destroyed. That is a devastating call to receive."

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