APAS calling on provincial, federal governments to provide drought relief

A drought across Saskatchewan is hampering the early growing season for Saskatchewan farmers. Colton Praill / Global News

Saskatchewan farmers are looking for provincial and federal help as a spring drought drags through the growing season.

The Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan (APAS) wants to see assistance in crop insurance, water management, the creation of a provincial drought committee, among other requests.

“APAS is calling on both levels of government to initiate a drought-related AgriRecovery assessment. For many producers, 2019 is our third-straight year of below average moisture,” APAS president Todd Lewis said.

AgriRecovery is a joint federal-provincial program focused on helping producers deal with “extraordinary costs” associated with disasters.

READ MORE: Lack of moisture delays crop growth in Saskatchewan

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APAS is calling on the Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation to create a new program that would encourage the conversion of drought-damaged cereal crops into livestock feed at no penalty to producers.

In a statement, the government of Saskatchewan said livestock producers are able to graze cattle on insured forage and hay acres. If crop insurance customers wants to use insured acres for another use like grazing, they are asked to contact their local office to discuss their options and how it may impact coverage.

Some farmers Global News has spoken with in recent weeks said their hay crop is already suffering from the drought, making cattle feed an issue.

Requests to the province include the development of an Agricultural Water Pumping Program to source and make available loaner pumps and pipes to provide increased access to water sources.

The province encourages producers struggling with moisture to apply for the provincial Farm and Ranch Water Infrastructure Program. The program is meant to help the development of sustainable water supplies for agriculture.

On the federal side, APAS wants Ottawa to make all of Saskatchewan eligible for the Federal Livestock Tax Deferral. The Saskatchewan government says it continue to work with Ottawa to assess conditions and consider designation under the tax deferral.

On Tuesday, an Environment Canada meteorologist told Global News Saskatchewan needs more than 200 millimetres of rain to ease drought conditions.

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READ MORE: Over 200mm rain needed to ease drought conditions in southern Sask.

Both Saskatoon and Moose Jaw have seen their driest springs on record. The Swift Current, Battleford and Key lakes areas are in their third driest spring on record. Regina is experiencing its eighth driest spring.

“Producers across the province are under considerable stress,” Lewis said.

“The government may not be able to make it rain, but there are concrete actions that can be taken to alleviate some of the burden producers are dealing with.”

– With files from Dave Giles

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