Following last week’s devastating wildfires in southwest Saskatchewan, many agricultural organizations are continuing to lobby the provincial government to provide a fire insurance option for forage crops and pasture land.
Last week, wildfires near Burstall, Leader and Tompkins swallowed tens of thousands of acres of land and claimed the lives of 750 livestock.
“It’s horrible, these are people that care for animals and it’s what they’ve chosen to do, so when they lose them it hits right deep down, and then on top of that, you’ve got your business and your livelihood as well,” Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association CEO Ryder Lee said.
In early September, a large wildfire near Glentworth, Sask. destroyed approximately 3,500 acres of land.
For many ranchers in southern Saskatchewan, it’s another hit after a tough, dry season.
“Unfortunately it always takes a really bad event to take place that really gets people’s attention,” Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) Ray Orb said.
SARM has been working with several other agricultural organizations, such as the Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association and the Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association, to lobby the province on this issue.
“The issue is, as far as fire, there is no coverage through crop insurance for native grass, and that’s the problem we’re seeing not only in the southern part of the province, but in others parts that’s really dry,” Orb said.
“They rely on those pastures, and if a fire comes through, as what happened last week, they lose that winter feed. That’s part of their livelihood. So to replace that I would imagine they would have to buy feed and that’s quite expensive this year because of the drought in southern Saskatchewan.”
Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation CEO Shawn Jaques said they are currently researching the issue and consulting with producers and industry. They are also encouraging farmers impacted by the wildfire to contact their local crop insurance office to see if they qualify for the AgriStability program.
Wildfire relief fund launched for farmers
To help farmers and ranchers rally after the fire, the Saskatchewan Stock Grower’s Association has launched a wildfire relief fund.
“We have launched a wildfire relief fund to assist the producers that lost animals and grass and bales,” Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association General Manager Chad MacPherson said.
“We initiated this to aid the producers that have been devastated by this disaster, anything we can do to help them out and get them back on their feet. So we’re accepting donations of cash, trucking, feed, fencing materials etc.”
To contribute to the wildfire relief fund or to apply to it, you can visit skstockgrowers.com or you can call (306)757-8523.