Scorching temperatures across Saskatchewan are devastating crops, according to the most recent report from Saskatchewan Agriculture. Now, the Saskatchewan NDP is calling for the province and Ottawa to step in and help.
Crops across the prairies are extremely stressed as they battle the hot and dry conditions. Saskatchewan Agriculture reported any rain now will help but it won’t improve yields.
It’s a dire situation according to party leader Ryan Meili.
“This is year four of drought (in parts of Saskatchewan),” he said.
“You get one bad year and maybe you can make it through, but year after year and all the moisture reserves are gone and all the financial reserves are gone people are in dire straits.”
This week’s crop report shows hay yields are well below normal with many producers unsure whether there will be a second cut. Similarly, it reported many cereal crops have headed out and aren’t producing kernels.
The NDP said touring some ranches and farms show fields devastated by this year’s drought.
“We walked through fields where normally in the middle of July you wouldn’t be able to see the ground because the wheat would be tall and green,” he said.
“But now you can see between the rows because the wheat’s (not very) high and it’s already turning brown.”
The Saskatchewan NDP said it wants the provincial and federal governments to develop immediate aid packages for struggling farmers and ranchers.
The Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan (APAS) said dry and hot conditions have dried up water supplies for livestock and is affecting their feed.
“Pastures, once they’ve been grazed off there’s no regrowth so the cattle will soon be running out of grass to eat,” warned vice-president Bill Prybylski.
He said the priority should be creating water sources for livestock, and more previsions through crop insurance so some crops can be repurposes for cattle feed.
In an emailed statement, Premier Scott Moe said the province is working with farmers and ranchers to help them stay afloat.
He pointed to changes made to the Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation (SCIC) earlier this month.
“SCIS has made changes to allow low yielding crops to be cut for feed immediately,” he said.
“The Government of Saskatchewan has also made changes to temporarily increase the maximum funding a livestock producer can receive from the Farm and Ranch Water Infrastructure Program for dugouts, wells and pipelines.”
Despite the aid announced last week, Meili said it isn’t enough and the province needs to do even more to help those struggling.
He said the province also needs to look at helping producers create less emissions, and plan for the effects of climate change and how to support farmers and ranchers in the coming years.