INNISFAIL - Additional new funding for Alberta ranchers dealing with severe drought conditions and resulting financial hardships will provide much needed relief, says Minister of Agriculture and Innisfail-Sylvan Lake MLA Devin Dreeshen.
On Sept. 7, Dreeshen announced that ranchers are now eligible for up to $200 per head through a $340 million provincial-federal support program.
Last month Premier Jason Kenney announced that the province was making $136 million available under the AgriRecovery program, and had asked the federal government to provide an additional $203 million under the joint provincial-federal initiative.
That federal money has now been approved and is being provided to producers through the 2021 Canada-Alberta Livestock Assistance Initiative to help cover feed and water access costs for breeding female livestock.
“Alberta livestock producers have experienced exceedingly dry conditions for months, putting additional stress on the very Albertans who feed Canadian families,” said Dreeshen.
“Alberta’s government is proud to support the delivery of up to $340 million in much-needed relief to help our livestock producers make it through this difficult season.”
Payments under the initiative will be made once applications are received, with those signed up for direct deposit expected to see payments toward the end of September, he said.
“Taking a feed-need approach, supplemented by receipts, a secondary payment of up to $106 per head will be available to producers who have experienced extraordinary costs as a result of the drought, in addition to initial payment,” he said.
Under the payment program, cattle and bison will be eligible for an initial payment of $94 per head and a secondary payment of $106 per head.
The program itself is being administered through the Agricultural Financial Services Corporation (AFSC), with terms available on the organization’s website.
“We’re here to support producers in times like these. This funding helps Alberta livestock producers sustain their operations during challenging times,” said AFSC chief executive officer Darryl Kay.
Only about 20 per cent Alberta crops and pastures are doing well this year due to the drought, Dreeshen said.
Alberta Beef Producers is an 18,000 member organization that promotes the cattle industry in the province. General manager Brad Dubeau calls the new funding welcome.
“We're looking forward to working with you in the coming days to roll out the application details to aid as many producers as possible. We appreciate the Alberta government stepping in before a bad situation becomes even worse,” said Dubeau.
NDP agriculture critic Heather Sweet issued the following statement: “As ranchers suffer from one of the worst droughts in history, the UCP is delaying much-needed support by breaking it up into two payments. If the UCP wanted to help ranchers, they would give ranchers the full amount of support immediately.
“Worst of all, delaying the full amount of support means the UCP doesn’t trust ranchers to keep their herds whole. It’s time for the UCP to quit playing politics, quit delaying, and step up with the full amount so ranchers can make it through this difficult year.”