Province promises help for Manitoba farmers struggling after summer drought

Help is on the way for Manitoba farmers whose feed supply was hurt by the summer drought, the Manitoba government says.

Hot, dry weather stunted hay production in the Interlake and Parkland regions

The Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation will give farmers loans to buy calves, Agriculture Minister Ralph Eichler says. (Patrick Foucault/Radio-Canada)

Help is on the way for Manitoba farmers whose feed supply was hurt by the summer drought, the Manitoba government says.

Agriculture Minister Ralph Eichler outlined a number of measures Monday to give producers some relief from a hot summer, after a number of municipalities declared a state of agricultural disaster this year.

Among those measures: the Crown corporation that provides insurance and loans to agricultural producers — the Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation — has been asked to defer loan payments for up to six months, with the possibility of a six-month extension to that.

"MASC will also be providing loans in financing for the purchase of calves with a minimum weight of 181 kilograms using the livestock as security," said Eichler. "The loans are repayable when the livestock are sold."

Eichler said the federal government is also providing some relief. Producers were able to apply to AgriStability — a federal support program — for a cash advance of up to 50 per cent. Eichler says his department now has authority from the feds to raise that to 75 per cent. 

"The fact we know cash is tight for a number of these producers, we want to make sure we have some of the tools in the toolbox to help them through this time," said Eichler.

Eichler also urged producers facing feed shortages to check the Manitoba Hay Listing service daily.

Meanwhile, in southwestern Manitoba, farmers are dealing with too much water on their fields, although Eichler said it was too early to estimate the extent of the damage.

Some farmers are worried crop insurance, which doesn't pay for damage to equipment, may not be enough to cover their losses, Eichler said.

About 53 to 56 per cent of crops are off the fields in Manitoba, leaving a little less than half still in the field, Eichler said.

"It has been a real struggle because we don't know what the weather will look like in the next few weeks."

In a statement, the general manager of the Manitoba Beef Producers said its discussions will continue with the province about "the impact of the disaster and the effect it is having on Manitoba's beef industry."

"It is useful that the Manitoba government is looking at the various programs and tools available to beef producers ... to see if there are ways to adjust them to make them more responsive to the industry's needs during this very challenging period," wrote Carson Callum.


  • An earlier version of this story said producers were able to apply to the Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation for a cash advance of up to 50 per cent. In fact, producers could apply to the AgriStability program for that cash advance.
    Oct 02, 2019 7:56 PM CT