More hay headed West
Prince Edward Islanders taking part in the campaign to get hay to drought-stricken western livestock are optimistic they can get the feed shipped out.
CN Rail has agreed to put on box cars in Moncton, N.B.; Truro, N.S.' and Quebec City to ship hay west early next week.
P.E.I. officials are trying to arrange to get the hay across the Confederation Bridge. Dozens of farmers and ordinary Islanders have said they will donate money to help defer transportation costs.
In total, rail companies are freeing up nearly 200 cars to bring the hay to the West. The federal government has chipped in $150,000 to the Hay West campaign for the short-term, as well as freeing up money for drought-assistance.
- FROM AUG. 9, 2002: Ottawa releases millions for water projects in drought-affected areas
On Friday, Agriculture Minister Lyle Vanclief announced that $10 million will be released immediately and will be used to fund water supply projects in drought-stricken areas in Canada.
But all that may not be enough. Thousands of donated bales of hay won't feed the million of animals on the prairies. So producers are selling off cattle at rock-bottom prices.
Elaine Boon is trying to give away her prized Arabian horses. She says she can't afford to feed them and nobody wants to buy them. If someone could take them off her hands, it beats the other option. "If they don't have feed they're going to the slaughterhouse," she said.
It's all taking a toll financially, and emotionally. Drought-related stress in Alberta has led to calls for a province-wide hotline for farmers.
"Emotional issues, financial issues, farm business issues, drought issues, we need to focus information about all that into one location and disperse it from there," said Rod Scarlett of Wild Rose Agricultural Producers.
There is a hotline in Saskatchewan and the phones won't stop ringing. "There can be an impact on relationships. So that's a factor that falls into place. In addition to that, it's a look towards what the future holds. People are looking for an alternative source of income job-wise, whether it be training, those sorts of things," said Ken Imhoff of the Saskatchewan Farm Stress Line.
Big industries are worried about the effect of the drought as well.
Canada's beer-makers depend on Western barley. This year, the crop is stunted and there's not much of it.
It's possible brewers may have to import huge amounts of barley from around the world to make Canadian beer.
The Canadian Federation of Agriculture is touring the Prairies next week, hoping to help governments come up with a disaster plan.
There's also a Farm Aid benefit concert planned for Thanksgiving weekend.