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Manitoba Beef Producers engaging with government, commodity groups about the drought situation

Manitoba Beef Producers (MBP) continues to work with the provincial government and Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation (MASC), as well as other commodity groups regarding the very serious drought situation and possible measures to help affected livestock producers.

“Successive droughts have seriously taxed Manitoba’s beef sector. Swift and effective strategies are needed to address the immediate challenges and also to help ensure the industry’s long-term stability,” said MBP president Tyler Fulton. “The provincial government has recognized the importance of preserving the cow herd for the future. Strong collaborative efforts will be key to helping the sector deal with the significant challenges created by this agricultural disaster.”

Stable access to feed and water are the key components of beef production, and MBP’s efforts have first focused on these key areas. MBP had requested the reopening of BMP 503: Managing Livestock Access to Riparian Areas, which provides cost-shared support for water source development projects. This program is now open for producers seeking this type of assistance. Another MBP ask was to provide producers with access to Crown lands for grazing purposes and this too has been provided by the provincial government.

As conditions continue to deteriorate, sourcing feed is producers’ top priority. MBP has worked with MASC, provincial officials and commodity group representatives about how to make damaged crops available as alternative feed and roughage sources for livestock. MASC has given producers enrolled in AgriInsurance information about how to put their crops to alternate use during the growing season. MBP is encouraging beef producers to reach out to crop producers now to explore potential options for alternative feed sources, and vice versa. MBP also asks that producers who have hay, straw or alternative feed sources available to post them on sites such as the Manitoba Hay Listing Service (gov.mb.ca), local buy and sell sites and social media channels as this would be very valuable.

MBP continues to speak with government officials at all levels about the types of programs and tools needed to help producers deal with the drought-related challenges. Possible initiatives under AgriRecovery must be taken into consideration in a timely fashion. A quick declaration of the Livestock Tax Deferral Provision for producers who have to make the difficult decision to sell off some of their breeding stock in order to match herd size to feed availability is also required.

MBP is raising various factors affecting producers with government officials, such as rising production costs, including pasture and forage lease rates and the cost of sourcing other feeds. Ensuring business risk management tools are more effective for the beef industry is another important area of discussion.

“These are challenging and stressful times as producers work diligently to secure the resources needed for their cattle. MBP values the input from its members about the situation and the types of assistance they require. MBP also values the ability to work with government and other agricultural sectors on possible initiatives,” added Fulton.

“The farm community has a long history of helping each other out in times of need, such as natural disasters. And, the support we have received from the public during this time is certainly appreciated.”

For information on resources related to managing in a drought, visit www.mbbeef.ca.

July 15, 2021