Rain coming too little, too late for Sask. ranchers
REGINA -- When it comes to pasture land, Thursday night's rain was a case of too little, too late for producers – if it even reached their farmland.
Drought conditions had already stunted growth past the point of no return, and it has left many producers weighing some difficult options.
No rain fell on Scott Sigfusson’s ranch near Craik Thursday night. Drought conditions have already forced the sell off of half the 200 animal herd. Another 25 per cent could soon be gone.
“I don’t even know if a lot of rain right now would help our current situation grass wise. It might make for a little more fall grazing for us,” said Sigfusson.
An estimated 40 per cent of the Saskatchewan cattle herd is expected to go to market this fall, which could cause long-term problems for producers.
“That doesn’t just affect just this year. That affects long term down the road. That’s 40 per cent of the cows right now, but that’s 40 per cent of the calves for next year. In the cattle industry, it’s not just a one year, jump in and jump out. It probably takes us three to four years to get a cow herd built back up again,” said Sigfusson.
On Thursday, the federal government announced a one year tax deferral for ranchers forced to cut back their herds. Producers welcome the help, but the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan (APAS) is concerned that the program only covers half the province.
“My farm is right on the border of two RMs, one that of included in the tax deferral program and one that isn’t and from what I see, there is no significant difference in how dry it is in one side of the RM or the other,” said Bill Prybylski, APAS vice-president.
Earlier in the week, the provincial government extended full crop insurance coverage to poor crops cut for cattle feed. Now, Minister of Agriculture David Marit says the province has formally requested the federal government implement an AgriRecovery response program to assist producers dealing with extreme conditions
APAS said improvements to the existing AgriStability program would be a good start.
“Take the compensation rate increase from 70 per cent to 80 per cent would certainly help a lot of producers,” said Prybylski.
Though help is on the way, Sigfusson said it’s still a battle against the conditions.
“It’s pretty scary. Grasshoppers are starting to get real bad right now. Anything that gets green, the hoppers are moving in. I don’t know where we are going to go from here, really.”