Saskatchewan

Ranchers who lost grazing lands to wildfire get support

Farmers and ranchers affected by wildfires this fall are getting some additional help. The Provincial Disaster Assistance Program is now allowing livestock producers to apply for assistance if fire damaged their grazing land.

Provincial Disaster Assistance Program now offering assistance for wildfire loss

The massive wildfire quickly approached the Job family farm near Burstall, Sask. on Oct. 17, 2017. (Submitted by Kathryn Job)

Farmers and ranchers affected by wildfires this fall are getting some additional help.

The Provincial Disaster Assistance Program (PDAP) is now allowing livestock producers to apply for assistance if fire damaged their grazing land.

Grass fires in October burned more than 36,000 hectares (almost 89,000 acres) of farmland in southwestern Saskatchewan, and forced the towns of Leader and Burstall to evacuate.

An aerial view of the Burstall area after the fire. (Jenny Hagen/Backroad Photography)

Assistance to buy feed

Producers whose grazing land was damaged can apply for assistance to buy feed for affected livestock, though the grazing land itself isn't eligible for support. 

The Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association applauded the news in a press release. 

"The drought in southern Saskatchewan has already led to feed shortages," wrote president Shane Jahnke. "It will be very expensive to replace the winter feed lost in the wildfires."

The PDAP support doesn't apply to the livestock, buildings, fences or other assets that may have been damaged.

While the majority of the damage from the fires was insurable, grazing lands can't be insured. The PDAP hopes the changes to the program will help fill in that gap.

The Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association started a relief fund shortly after the fires, and raised around $200,000 to help affected ranchers. The Government of Saskatchewan is matching donations up to $100,000 for the relief fund.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ashleigh Mattern is a reporter with CBC Saskatoon and CBC Saskatchewan.

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