Livestock producers are in a critical situation as the drought and wildfire situation has drastically reduced feed supply options from British Columbia to Ontario.
The Canadian Cattlemen's Association says last week's federal announcement of $100 million for AgriRecovery is a critical step in signalling to producers that help is on the way.
President Bob Lowe says Minister Bibeau is certainly aware that more money is needed.
"We've talked to Minister Bibeau. She is fully aware that that's nowhere near enough money to really do anything. And I know the federal government is working on coming up with more, but they are aware, and we told them. You know, our original ask of the federal government was $195 a head straight through every breeding animal, from some line in Ontario to the Pacific Ocean. Basic $200 bucks a head, three million cattle, mother cows. And we also said this would be an immediate interim request and that there is going to have to be more money coming in."
In announcing the additional money under AgriRecovery last week, Minister Bibeau said they are working with the provinces, and are ready to seek further funding as needed (referring to submissions for assistance that are expected to be coming in from the provinces).
"Our federal Government has been working around the clock with provinces to respond to the drought as rapidly as possible. As we made clear in our announcement today, we are ready with $100 million to match provincial AgriRecovery asks, and we are ready to seek further funding as needed. We will continue to support our producers to get them through the challenges we face in the short term, and to position them for a sustainable future."
Lowe says time is of the essence as producers are making critical feed and herd management decisions right now.
"As a country, we can't afford to let our cow herd get any smaller. And it looks like it will get somewhat smaller for sure this year, and that's the real spooky thing. I hear anywhere from 30 to 50 per cent of the cows will be culled."
Producers are making the tough decisions to drastically cull their herd due to the drought, and concern over feed supplies to carry the herd through the winter.
Some producers have been able to arrange deals with grain farmers that had a crop write off to salvage the crop for feed.
Lowe notes while the feed supply situation is critical west of Ontario, things are better in the East.
"You know, Eastern Canada has record production year as far as hay. We're working on trying to figure out how to economically get that from east to the west. That's still in motion, how that's going to work."