Canada Heat-strained crops have Sask. government, Opposition calling for federal help
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Saskatchewan's weekly crop report paints a grim picture of how an extended heat wave and lack of rain have stunted growth in the province. Now, both the government and Opposition are calling on Ottawa for help.
"Crops remain extremely stressed from the lack of moisture and continue to advance quickly due to the heat and dry conditions throughout the growing season," the provincial Ministry of Agriculture said Thursday.
The ministry said clouds and smoke from forest fires gave crops "a slight reprieve," but that the rain will only maintain yields, not increase them.
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"The scientist in me sees many things we can learn from this, but the nature lover in me is a little overwhelmed," said marine biologist Christopher Harley, who says "the extent of the die-off is staggering"Amid a recent heat wave that wreaked havoc in the area and parts of Canada, millions of shellfish were cooked alive off the coast of Vancouver, British Columbia.
The crop report showed the impact of the heat and lack of precipitation. Only about half of many crops are at their normal level of development for for this time of year:
- 51 per cent of fall cereals.
- 52 per cent of spring cereals.
- 50 per cent of oilseeds.
- 49 per cent of pulse crops.
Last week, Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister David Marit wrote a letter to the federal government asking for an AgriRecovery assessment.
"This combination of heat waves, no rainfall, minimal spring runoff and low early spring moisture is having a devastating impact on producers in the province," Marit wrote.
He said the province was willing to work with Ottawa "to help deal with the extraordinary costs brought about by this disaster."
Marit announced the Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation would be doubling the low-yield appraisal threshold values for customers who salvage their cereal or pulse crops as feed.
Mandryk: Moe surviving COVID-19, economy problems better than others
If you look at the numbers, you might wonder why Premier Scott Moe and his Saskatchewan Party government are as popular as they clearly are. Consider these numbers: The best thing to be said about Saskatchewan’s recent COVID-19 numbers is they’ve gotten better. The worst thing to be said is they remain near the worst. Only Yukon and Manitoba have more active COVID-19 active cases per 100,000 people than Saskatchewan. Similarly, Saskatchewan’s rate of unvaccinated people remains highest among the provinces. Yet there hasn’t exactly been a groundswell of opposition to Moe removing masking and social distancing restrictions.
The province also requested that Ottawa designate all of Saskatchewan as eligible for the Livestock Tax Deferral program, to help producers who may need to liquidate some of their herd due to feed or water shortages.
Marit said the province would also be interested in joining a working group to discuss some solutions.
Opposition tours drought-affected area, sends letter to premier, prime minister
Saskatchewan Opposition Leader Ryan Meili and other NDP MLAs toured some areas affected by drought in southern Saskatchewan on Wednesday.
On Thursday, Meili stood outside the government's cabinet office in Saskatoon asking both the federal and provincial government to do more for struggling producers.
"We heard a cry for help, a cry for help from the federal government and the provincial government to get to work right now on a substantial relief program. To understand the urgency when it comes to feed, water, the financial means to make it through this crisis."
'Heartbreaking': Ottawa to help farmers and ranchers affected by drought
WINNIPEG — Help is on the way for Canadian farmers and ranchers severely affected by this year's drought. Federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau announced several of steps Thursday following a tour of Manitoba's Interlake Region to see how extreme weather is leading to crop losses, affecting crop quality, and reducing forage and water supplies for livestock. Bibeau said Ottawa is working closely with the provinces to quickly respond to drought in Western Canada. "I wanted to come to Manitoba to talk to you in person and to see with my own eyes the devastating effects that extreme heat and insect damage are having on your farms," Bibeau said.
Meili and caucus colleague Trent Wotherspoon sent a letter on behalf of the Opposition to Premier Scott Moe and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau calling for the development of a "meaningful aid program."
"Failure to act now risks farm and ranch losses, deep financial and emotional impacts for families, and major negative repercussions for the Saskatchewan economy," the letter said.
Meili said long-term planning also needs to take place. He said climate change will be "driving more drought events and more extreme weather events."
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