Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Agriculture has announced $10 million in funding to aid livestock producers amid the industry slowdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
“We know our livestock sector is under tremendous pressure,” Agriculture Minister David Marit said. “Today’s funding will help ensure our producers have the support they require during this unprecedented period.”
During a usual year, 3,500 head of cattle would typically be sent from Saskatchewan to processing facilities in Alberta every week. Amid the pandemic, that number has been lowered to less than 400 every week.
Of the funding, $5 million will be used to pay Saskatchewan’s share of the costs for the national AgriRecovery set-aside program.
“Saskatchewan livestock producers will now be able to access a total of $12.5 million in joint provincial/federal funding under the set-aside program,” Marit said.
According to Marit, the set-aside program will help compensate producers for the cost of holding market-ready cattle until supply more evenly matches demand.
The program will be administered by Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation.
The remaining $5 million will be used to partially offset heightened premium costs under the Western Livestock Price Insurance Program (WLPIP).
“Premiums have increased significantly since the end of February due to the uncertainty of COVID-19,” Marit said.
The provincial government will fund 40 per cent of the increased premium costs retroactive to Feb. 25, 2020.
The deadline to obtain calf price insurance has also been extended to June 18, 2020.
“These premium adjustments will be in place until Sept.1, 2020 when the provincial government will review it and reassess,” Marit said.
Marit is also continuing to urge the federal government to support the livestock industry by funding the remaining 60 per cent of increased premium costs.
“Prime Minister Trudeau indicated that the announcement on May 5 will be an initial investment, and that if we need to add more, they will,” he said. “So we will hold the federal government to that.”