Mark Emilson, a cattle producer from Vogar, Man., said producers in his area have been told they must move hundreds of cattle to higher ground as floodwaters continue to swell Lake Manitoba, but people don’t know where to go.
Provincial officials warned producers at a meeting Monday night that up to 100,000 head of cattle will need to be moved out of the area as floodwaters continue to rise.
“It’s kind of sickening. They are telling you to move cattle, but where do you move them, and how do you feed them? A lot of pastures are flooded,” Emilson said at noon Tuesday.
Emilson said he has been warned he may have to evacuate his 400-cow herd but believes his land at Vogar, about 140 km east of Dauphin, will remain dry.
He has several neighbours, however, who will have no choice but to move cattle out of the area.
“People are generally demoralized,” he said.
While most understand the decision to flood farmland to avoid flooding homes and communities, the decision will have a long-lasting effect on peoples’ livelihoods. The flooded lands may not be productive this season.
Producers will be scrambling to find alternative pastures and hay, which will have to be brought in from afar. “If I lose 2,000 bales of hay, I can’t afford to buy 2,000 bales,” he said.
Because the flooding is a result of the decision to divert more water into the lake than its capacity, producers will be expecting compensation.
— Laura Rance is the editor of the Manitoba Co-operator at Carman, Man.