August 6, 2021
Treaty 1 Territory, Homeland of the Métis Nation, Winnipeg MB—The Manitoba NDP called on the PC government to immediately take action to support livestock producers facing drought-induced feed shortages.
“Ranchers are calling this the worst drought they’ve ever seen, yet the province has offered nothing but scraps,” said NDP Agriculture Critic Diljeet Brar. “They need real support, with programs that actually help them to avoid financial disaster. A crisis like this deserves real action.”
An extended drought, severe heat conditions and a grasshopper infestation through June and July have decimated ranchers’ feed supply for their livestock. Many ranchers have auctioned off parts of their herd months earlier than usual, many of them at a financial loss, at the risk of being forced to liquidate their investments completely.
After consultations with cattle producers, the Manitoba NDP has identified a three-pronged, targeted support package that would help them mitigate financial losses and stabilize their business operations. Brar and the NDP urged the PC’s to:
1. Offer a 0% Interest Lending Program, with a 15-year payback, to help cattle producers continue to breed their herds and to ensure beef prices remain affordable for Manitoba families.
2. Work with the federal government to offer a Freight and Feed Assistance Program that would subsidize the cost of feed supplies and offset the cost of transporting it.
3. Temporarily reduce lease payments for Crown lands by 50% to reduce the burden on struggling cattle producers.
Brar urged the province to take action, not only to help cattle producers weather the uncertainty but also to prevent food prices from skyrocketing at a time when many Manitoba families are still struggling to afford their basic needs.
“We know there is a direct line from climate change’s impact on our farms to the prices of food in our grocery stores,” said Brar. “The last thing families need is food prices to increase even more. The province needs to step in to keep life affordable and protect Manitoba’s agriculture industry.”