Alberta Provide $340 Million for Ranchers After Drought Laden Summer

After an extremely dry summer, the government of Alberta is offering a $340-million support program for ranchers in the province.

The 2021 Canada-Alberta Livestock Feed Assistance Initiative will help cover feed and water access costs for female breeding livestock.

In August, the province stepped in with $136 million for farmers. Now, with federal funding coming through, the available cash has more than doubled.

The Alberta government said on Aug. 15, the federal government announced it would commit to their portion of the funding — $204 million — which was requested by the province.

Ranchers can apply for up to $200 per head.

“Alberta’s livestock producers have experienced exceedingly dry conditions for months, putting additional stress on the very Albertans who feed Canadian families,” Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Devin Dreeshen said.

The president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association Bob Lowe thinks it’s a good start.

“It’ll definitely be a big help. What we’ve told the federal government is that $200 ahead is an initial ask and we won’t know if we’ll need any more. Maybe we won’t need anymore, but we won’t know that until the harvest is in and know how much feed we actually have in the country.”

Mr. Lowe expects ranchers will use up all the feedstocks available across the country this year and hopefully things improve next summer.

“We’re a pretty resilient bunch and we’ll figure out how to carry most of the cowherd through the winter,” he said. “The real bad thing that could possibly happen, you know, nobody said this drought has to break before next year.  If we have another drought like this next year then we’re in really bad shape.

Payments will be received soon after the application is received, the government said. Once the applications are approved and processed, ranchers who sign up for direct deposit will see payment toward the end of the month.

Applicants could also receive a second payment of up to $106 per head under a “feed-need” approach, available to producers “who have experienced extraordinary costs as a result of the drought.”

Cattle and bison will be eligible for an initial payment of $94 per head and the second payment of $106 per head. Other livestock will be eligible for a different per-head payment, the government said.

“We’re here to support producers in times like these,” Darryl Kay, the CEO of the Alberta Financial Services Corporation, said. “This funding helps Alberta’s livestock producers and beekeepers sustain their operations during challenging times.”

The terms and conditions of the program are available on the AFSC website.

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