Glacier FarmMedia COVID-19 & the Farm

Plans afoot to move hay from East to drought-hit West

CFA, BFO spearheading Hay West-style initiatives

hay bales
(Photo courtesy Canada Beef Inc.)

Farm groups are spearheading new plans to get livestock feed from Eastern Canada to drought-damaged regions of the western provinces and northwestern Ontario.

Details are still pending, but the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) announced Aug. 12 it has started work on a “Hay West” initiative to get surplus hay “to those struggling in the West.”

A similar program ran in 2002 in similar circumstances, the CFA said, noting that 10 years later, when the situation was reversed, farmers in the West sent hay east to help farms stricken with drought in that region.

“We have our staff as well as a third party working towards determining how much of a hay surplus is available, and are looking to work with the railways and the government to help these farmers that are in dire need of feed for their animals,” CFA president Mary Robinson said in a release.

CFA said it will provide more information on the Hay West initiative as “details become available” and will work with government and stakeholders “to ensure that farmers are supported and surplus hay reaches those that need it.”

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) on Thursday pledged $50,000 toward the CFA’s initiative — plus another $50,000 toward the Northwestern Livestock Emergency Assistance Initiative managed by Beef Farmers of Ontario (BFO).

The plan for the Northwestern Livestock Emergency Assistance Initiative, BFO said, is “to help protect and maintain the breeding herd while we await the completion of the federal-provincial AgriRecovery assessment” toward further assistance for the region.

BFO has also received provincial funding for the initiative, which it said will go to help deliver emergency feed relief to all impacted livestock farmers in the Rainy River and Kenora districts.

Eligible beef, dairy, sheep and goat producers must be residents of either of those districts, have a valid Ontario farm premises ID number and farm business registration number.

Eligible growers also must be able to “attest to experiencing an immediate livestock feed shortage as a result of the extreme dry conditions of the 2021 growing season.”

Producers in all four western provinces and northwestern Ontario are awaiting full assessments toward federal/provincial AgriRecovery drought relief.

The Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and federal governments have already pledged funding for AgriRecovery in affected areas. The British Columbia government is also working on an AgriRecovery assessment but hasn’t yet announced its funding for the program. — Glacier FarmMedia Network

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