Prairie producers breathe easier as Canadian Federation of Agriculture’s Hay West program begins delivering goods
Ken Overby breathes more easily.
This week, the fifth and final round bale trailer was unloaded at his 400-head bison ranch near Inwood, Manitoba.
The 190 round bales are part of Hay West 2021, a relief program run by the Canadian Federation of Agriculture that works with farmers in Atlantic and Eastern Canada to provide hay to cattle ranchers in the ‘West affected by drought.
âIt’s a good program and it’s very welcome. I applaud the people who put it in place and all the effort they put in, âOverby said over the phone.
The hay provided offers more options, but it will still have to fell heavier than normal and sell stock.
âWe won’t have any grass reserves for next spring. I will save this hay for spring feeding at the time of calving. The Hay West program allows us to calve the cows and have a fairly decent diet for them at that time rather than straw, âhe said.
FCA President Mary Robinson said many producers in Eastern Canada, especially in Ontario and Quebec, are donating after a bumper hay harvest this summer, not to mention the generosity of farmers across the country. ‘West during the 2012 Hay East program.
âThey remember not only how important it was to their ranching operations, but also how great it was to have a western Canadian farmer who cared enough to send hay.
Robinson said approximately 40,000 bales of hay were promised or donated by suppliers in Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Quebec and Ontario, and others are in progress.
Producers must meet certain conditions to be eligible for hay. Feeding is a priority for those with breeding herds and access to water.
The loss of breeding stock will negatively impact the national herd in the future, Robinson said.
With the estimated shortage of four million tonnes of hay in the three Prairie provinces, she said geography and the cost of freight will limit the amount of aid they can provide.
âWe’re not going to run out of people who want hay. We’re either going to run out of hay or run out of money to send it first. So we will continue to send it as long as we can, âshe said.
The program focuses on the areas hardest hit by drought.
âWe try to be strategic and get as much hay as possible to the places that (need it), so we’re taking benchmarks, working with the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, as well as Keystone Agricultural Producers, APAS (Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan) and the Alberta Federation (of Agriculture) – anyone who wants to work with us to find the best way to do it, âshe said.
Hay West 2021 is operating at break-even point with hay purchased from suppliers in Eastern Canada and resold at cost to recipients.
The price is 10 cents per pound for all hay supplied. Round and square bales of varying weights and sizes will be provided depending on availability. Selected candidates will be contacted for distribution and payment dates.
âWe take that money and put it into freight for more hay so that we try to keep it fair on every level to everyone who received hay,â said Robinson.
Of the tens of thousands of bales promised, around 1,000 were delivered, mostly to Manitoba, which was hit hard by drought this summer.
âWe have secured funding to offset transportation costs and we continue to seek more funding. As long as we can find funding for freight, I think we can continue this program until there is no more hay to move, âshe said.
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