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MBP Has Raised Drought Concerns with the Provincial Government, Outlined Strategies to Assist Producers

Note: The following information appeared in the May 7, 2021 edition of Manitoba Beef Producers’ E-Newsletter.

This week Manitoba Beef Producers (MBP) wrote to Agriculture and Resource Development Minister Blaine Pedersen and Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler about the drought conditions that are causing serious challenges for many of our members and to raise with the provincial government a number of potential strategies to help producers deal with this serious situation.

Information from sources such as Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Drought Monitor, Manitoba Agriculture and Resource Development (MB ARD) crop reports, the Manitoba Drought Monitor and direct producer accounts have identified the extent of the challenges and the impact they are having on farms and ranches in terms of available water supplies, and implications for pasture and forage production. Much more moisture is required to address the protracted dry conditions beef producers have experienced in recent years and to provide them with a greater degree of certainty around pasture, feed and water supplies in the weeks and months ahead.

MBP has asked the provincial government to give consideration as soon as possible to making the following types of initiatives available to producers:

• Providing an intake period for the Ag Action Manitoba Program for Farmers’ BMP: Managing Livestock Access to Riparian Areas (503). Having access to reliable water sources, be they dugouts or wells is critical to livestock production. In recent drought years BMP 503 has proven very beneficial to producers who have had to either rehabilitate existing water sources or dig new ones;

• Making available land for haying and grazing purposes on Crown lands like wildlife management areas;

• Publicizing how producers can get permission to mow provincial highway ditches or alongside waterways (e.g. Red River Floodway);

• Continuing to work with the livestock sector to promote sites for sourcing feed and pastures, such as the Manitoba Hay Listing Service;

• Providing extension services to producers about strategies for dealing with drought conditions such as managing pastures and forages, and effectively introducing alternative feed sources, etc.; and,

As well, MBP requested an update on interdepartmental discussions related to drought and water management, and whether consideration is underway to determine if pumps and water lines could be made available to help livestock producers with water supply challenges. For example, some producers could face scenarios where they have pastures into which cattle could be turned, but must have assured water supplies before they do so. This may also be the case for some Crown lands that could potentially be made available for grazing by the province.

MBP also noted that it continues to hear from Lake Manitoba area producers about environmental damage caused by the major flood events in the past decade. This includes salinity issues, the presence of cattails and other factors which impede effective haying and grazing in some areas, compounding concerns about feed availability. Effective strategies are needed to address these lasting damages so full utilization can be restored.

MBP will continue to engage with government about this issue going forward so that strategies can be achieved to help mitigate risk for affected producers.