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Alberta ranchers looking for compensation after bovine tuberculosis quarantine

Southeast Alberta ranchers are hoping for some compensation for having to lock down their pastures after 30 cattle ranches were put under quarantine when a case of bovine tuberculosis was recently detected.

Cattle rancher estimates collective sales loss of about $5M

Rancher Kevin Stopanski estimates the loss of sales could cost ranchers, collectively, around $5 million not including the added cost of feeding the unexpected extra mouths. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

Some southeast Alberta ranchers are hoping for compensation for having to lock down their pastures after 30 cattle ranches were put under quarantine when a case of bovine tuberculosis was recently detected.

Kevin Stopanski, a rancher in Jenner, Alta., says the significant costs associated with the quarantine were unexpected.

"It's put a lot of stress on us," Stopanski said.

He's spending this weekend moving cattle, bring them home from pasture.

"It's a hassle, but we've got to do it."

Stopanski is among 30 ranches that have been locked down while the Canadian Food Inspection Agency seeks out the source of a recent case of tuberculosis.

He says the timing is awful for many people.

"This is probably the worst time of year that this could happen," Stopanski explained, "because we're trying to market our animals, our calves at this time of year. This is our bread and butter.

"This is where all our income comes to pay for loan and land payments and that kind of thing. So now under quarantine, no animal can actually arrive or leave these quarantined lands, so we're sitting there looking at all these dollars and there's no compensation. We have to look after animals as best as we can until the quarantine can be lifted."

Stopanski estimates the loss of sales could cost ranchers, collectively, around $5 million, not including the added cost of feeding the unexpected extra mouths.

Bob Lowe of Alberta Beef Producers says he's been in talks with the provincial agriculture ministry.

"We're pushing hard on some kind of an interim compensation package, an immediate thing that can happen right now then let time kind of heal the rest of it," he said. "But there's a very immediate need for compensation for these producers out there."

Bob Lowe of Alberta Beef Producers says he’s been in talks with the provincial agriculture ministry. (CBC)

Lowe says an incident like this affects the small farms more than the industry as a whole.

"This isn't a big deal to industry and it's not a big deal to our trade partners, but it's a very big deal both economically and psychologically to the producers that are caught in it," Lowe said.

"It's huge to those guys. I've been out there a few times, and you don't go away with a good feeling."

Agriculture and Forestry Minister Oneil Carlier says he has been in conversation with producers and his federal counterpart.

"We understand the urgency of the situation and we continue to have ongoing communication with the federal government," Carlier said in an emailed statement to CBC News.

"We are working with them regarding what programs may be available so we can determine the best course of action to meet the needs of producers on this situation."

With files from Kate Adach

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