Livestock sector getting boost from provincial funding

Saskatchewan cattle producers will have some additional supports as they go to market in the fall thanks to the provincial government and the Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association.

Agriculture Minister David Marit announced the $10 million livestock funding on May 14 saying support will be evenly split, “$5 million for Saskatchewan’s share of the costs associated with participation in the national AgriRecovery set-aside program and $5 million to partially offset higher premium costs under the Western Livestock Price Insurance Program (WLPIP),” according to the press release.

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National access to the AgriRecovery program is now up to $12.5 million for producers across the country. The agriculture sector is facing challenges across the county in order to deal with a slow market.

“Participation in the AgriRecovery set-aside program will compensate producers for the cost of temporarily holding cattle back from market until supply more evenly matches demand and processing capacity,” said Marit in the press release.

Arnold Balicki, the Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association’s chair, said the assistance from the federal and provincial governments is crucial at this time as a guaranteed price index will mean strong prices later with manageable premium costs now.

“Today [May 14], for example, you can get $2.08 per pound coverage for about $8.94 for $100 cost premium, so roughly for $54 to insure for a little over $1,200 a head for Oct. 5, the end of your contract.”

With supply chain slowdowns happening across Canada and the United States, feedlots are bottlenecking, Balicki said, with currently 150,000 head waiting to be moved down the line.

“The feedlots are not emptying pens like they should and so then they're not buying cattle from cow calf guys and so the price will stay depressed until those people get some pen space.”

Dean Moore’s Paradise Hill, Sask. cattle operation has 275 cow/calf pairs with his biggest market day being in October. Even though market prices are strong right now, the support from the provincial and federal governments are giving him peace of mind for the fall.

In a normal year, Moore would take 100 heifer calves and 100 steer calves to market at between $1,150 to $1,300 a head. While prices are going strong right now, Moore said he doesn’t know what to expect.

“This market is gonna be so volatile, we don't know what the fall run is gonna look like. So to have a little bit more security is gonna help us.”

As an executive with the Cattlemen’s Association, Moore said that lobbying by the organization ensured the government stepped up with their support. Being entirely producer funded, money typically goes to research. For the first time in the association’s history, they put up $1 million towards the WLPIP in order to support producers.

“There's a big need for the money that we've been setting aside for so long so we thought that it was a really good time to put it to use and make it make it work for us.”

Balicki said it is in the best interest of their producers that the organization as a whole took this step towards supporting the WLPIP. Offering the funding to the program kick started the conversation with the provincial government, he said.

The Saskatchewan government along with other agricultural sectors has a standing meeting every Wednesday, Balicki said, in order to discuss what can be done in terms of protecting the agriculture industry. The provincial government is really stepping up to the plate, he said, while others have not made that commitment. Saskatchewan is becoming a model for other provinces to follow suit.

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