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Drought 2021 - Advocacy Efforts

Manitoba Crop Alliance (MCA) recognizes the impact drought conditions are having on the crop and livestock sectors in Manitoba. MCA is working collaboratively with other farm organizations, provincially and nationally, to identify issues and provide solutions to address ongoing challenges facing farmers. The following is an update on recent activities and continuing discussions as we work hard to ensure the issues facing Manitoba farmers are being heard.

RECENT FEDERAL AND PROVINCIAL ANNOUNCEMENTS OF SUPPORT. On Friday, August 6th, there were two announcements made regarding government support for the ongoing drought conditions across Manitoba and western Canada. Our memberships with Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP) and Grain Growers of Canada (GGC) are keeping MCA up to date and summarizing some of the key takeaways.

Federal Announcement: click here

Key takeaway - Government of Canada is making available $100 million through the AgriRecovery Framework to address the immediate extraordinary costs faced by producers due to the drought and wildfires. Based on continuing discussions at the provincial and federal levels, it is unclear if there will be a benefit to grain farmers impacted by the drought due to the parameter that must be met to be considered under AgriRecovery.

Provincial Announcement: click here

Key takeaway - There will be an increase for the 2021 AgriStability interim benefit payment percentage from 50 per cent to 75 per cent for Manitoba producers. In addition, Manitoba is also invoking the late participation option for producers not currently participating in AgriStability. Payments to late participants will be reduced by 20 per cent prior to applying any other deductions or penalties. Manitoba is the only province to date to invoke the late participation option.

Provincial Announcement on August 10th: click here

The Manitoba government will invest $62 million in programs under the AgriRecovery framework that will be designed to support livestock producers affected by this year’s drought conditions, to ensure producers have options to retain and care for their animals while also supporting the longer-term sustainability of the livestock sector. Details remain pending. On the crop side, the drought work is ongoing. MCA or KAP welcomes any concerns or feedback you would like for us to bring forward.

MANITOBA FARM GROUP COALITION & ALTERNATE CROP USE. Manitoba Beef Producers (MBP) and Manitoba Forage & Grassland Association, along with KAP, MCA, Manitoba Bison Association (MBA) and Manitoba Sheep Association (MSA) formed a coalition encouraging producers to know their options when making decisions about their crops to alternate use. A campaign was launched late July.

Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation (MASC) has provided a “Putting Crops to Alternate Use – Frequently Asked Questions” document that can be found here. Before making decisions about drought-damaged crops, the coalition is asking producers to contact MASC about putting crops to alternative use.

MCA also remains engaged as MASC is currently assessing what a quality adjustment factor for corn could be if putting corn to alternate use. Details will be coming soon.

MCA has made resources available on our website in relation to putting crops to alternate use and determining value of greenfeed/silage/straw. They can be found under the News section here.

CROP COMMODITY GROUPS MEET WITH MASC. MCA, KAP, Manitoba Canola Growers Association (MCGA) and Manitoba Pulse and Soybean Growers (MPSG) met with Jared Munro and David Koroscil of MASC. Meeting attendees discussed several topics, including MASC preparedness for the anticipated influx of claims and customer service, a high-level review of how MASC crop prices are established and different options in other provinces that they are exploring, and low yield appraisal thresholds values. There will be continuing follow-up with MASC.

KAP MEMBERS ROUNDTABLE. MCA continues to work with fellow crop and livestock commodity members of KAP to assess areas of concerns for farmers related to the drought. At a recent KAP-led meeting, the following broad categories were discussed: business risk management programming (AgriInsurance, AgriStability, AgriRecovery), feed supplies for livestock, grasshoppers and their management, MASC’s customer service, water management, mental health, and seed supply in 2022. Although a large focus of the government is on the livestock industry currently, communications remain on-going in the crop sector to inform government of the impacts and challenges facing crop producers in Manitoba due to drought conditions.

CONTRACTUAL OBLIGATIONS. There have also been discussions with our partners about contracts and the associated administration fees for those affected producers. The issue is on the radar of national groups such as Grain Growers of Canada, at the provincial level with KAP, as well as other organizations. Grain handlers are looking at contracts on a case-by-case basis and we want to encourage producers to talk to their grain buyers ASAP if they are facing concerns. Canadian Canola Growers Association (CCGA) has provided information on their website related to contract shortfalls and general contract information:

https://www.ccga.ca/hub/Pages/Drought-have-you-concerned-about-contract-shortfalls.aspx

https://www.ccga.ca/policy/Documents/A%20Practical%20Guide%20to%20Navigate%20Grain%20Contracts%20-%20Jan%202016.pdf

Manitoba Agriculture and Resource Development (MARD) has also developed a new factsheet when dealing with contractual obligations during a production shortfall due to adverse growing conditions. MARD shares some useful steps farmers can take to develop a plan that will help to address production shortfalls. Click here to view the factsheet.

TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF AND YOUR FRIENDS, FAMLY & FELLOW FARMERS. There are resources available to ensure the mental health and well-being of Manitoba farmers are taken care of. Reach out to family, friends, or neighbors as we all need to take care of each other and our agricultural community during these stressful times.

The Manitoba Farm, Rural & Northern Support Services (MFRNSS) provides free, confidential telephone and online counselling to producers. MFRNSS is available 24/7 by calling 1-866-367-3276 or visiting www.supportline.ca.

NEXT STEPS: Discussions will continue with our provincial and national partners to ensure the concerns and issues facing Manitoba farmers are brought forward and heard. MCA welcomes member feedback on how the drought conditions are impacting their operations and issues arising from those conditions.

If you have any questions or comments, please contact MCA’s office at 204-745-6661 or email at hello@mbcropalliance.ca.