Province to provide $10M to help livestock producers handle COVID impact

Agriculture Minister David Marit announced $10 million in additional funding to help livestock producers manage the impacts of COVID-19 related market disruptions.

The support includes $5 million for Saskatchewan’s share of the costs associated with participation in the national AgriRecovery set-aside program and $5 million to partially offset higher premium costs under the Western Livestock Price Insurance Program (WLPIP).

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With the announcement, the Saskatchewan government will fund the 40 per cent provincial contribution to the AgriRecovery set-aside program. Saskatchewan livestock producers will now be able to access a total of $12.5 million under the set-aside program. On May 5, the federal government announced their 60 per cent contribution to the AgriRecovery program.

“Our livestock sector is facing tremendous challenges, with producers facing higher costs to feed animals that cannot move along the supply chain as they normally would,” Marit said. “Participation in the AgriRecovery set-aside program will compensate producers for the cost of temporarily holding cattle back from market until supply more evenly matches demand and processing capacity.”

At this time of the year, approximately 3,500 head of market-ready steers and heifers would typically be shipped from Saskatchewan to processing facilities in Alberta every week. Recently, less than 400 head of fed cattle from Saskatchewan have been processed weekly in Alberta plants.

Saskatchewan will work closely with industry, the federal government and other western provinces to finalize the details of the set-aside program. The Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation will deliver the program to Saskatchewan producers.

“COVID-19 has had multiple effects on Canada’s cattle producers,” Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association Chair Arnold Balicki said. “Industry put forth a number of recommendations to governments to address our complex industry’s challenges. It is great to see Saskatchewan stepping up on set aside and price insurance. These will help with the backlog and make it more affordable for producers to participate in price insurance, injecting some certainty into the coming months.”

“It is vital that we work together to address the impact of the serious challenges presented by COVID-19,” Saskatchewan Cattle Feeders Association President Chad Ross said. “We welcome the measures announced today and look forward to continuing to work closely with government and other industry partners to support producers.”

The impacts of COVID-19 have been felt across the entire livestock sector. To address this, Saskatchewan is also taking action to temporarily reduce the cost of purchasing livestock price insurance through the WLPIP.

WLPIP is an important risk management tool for Saskatchewan livestock producers.  WLPIP premiums have increased significantly since the end of February, due to the uncertainty of COVID-19. The provincial government will provide 40 per cent of the increased premium costs, dating back to February 25, 2020.

“Today’s funding to offset increased livestock price insurance premium costs will help ensure our risk management programs meet the needs of Saskatchewan producers,” Marit said. “The Government of Saskatchewan is taking steps to ensure livestock producers have the support they require during this unprecedented period.”