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www.estevanmercury.ca

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A5

Immediate aid rolling out for flooded producers package, $360 million will be heading to Saskatchewan, the hardest hit province. Saskatchewan’s Agriculture Minister Bob Bjornerud, speaking with The Mercury and Agrinews July 9, said the benefits will begin rolling out in early August. He said there is approximately $283 million in additional damages brought about by the floods that will have to be addressed and so far, only the province is handling that program, which will have to deal with washed out grid roads and culverts, and other infrastructure items, plus personal rural losses. “Maybe the federal government will step up to help out there too, we’ll have to see,” said Bjornerud from his Saltcoats home, located near Yorkton, the hardest hit area in the province. If farmers carry crop insurance, the flooded acreages will be eligible for up to $50 per acre of relief there, giving those who require aid, and purchased crop insurance, a

By Norm Park Of The Mercury The hard-pressed, waterlogged Saskatchewan farmers will be receiving some financial assistance in the near future. On July 8 the Prairie and federal governments announced a joint relief package for producers whose crops have been flooded or who never even got to seed due to extremely wet conditions this past spring. The Excess Moisture Program (EMP), gives Prairie farmers $30 per acre for unseeded land that would have normally been within their planting scope this year, or for crops that have been destroyed due to flood conditions. Based on a traditional 60-40 percentage formula for joint federal/provincial plans, the federal government will be providing $18 and the province $12 for each eligible acre involved in the EMP. The program will be administered by the Crop Insurance Corporation in Saskatchewan. Of the $450 million

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Bob Bjornerud

total of $80 per acre. Bjornerud said the crop insurance group had an additional $300 million in the coffers to carry into the new crop year, which will now probably be gobbled up by the demands. The other amounts, such as the $144 million for the provincial share of the EMP and infrastructure repairs, will have to come from the province’s well publicized “rainy day” account. Bjornerud said the assistance under the EMP, applied only to the grain side of the business since cattle and hog producers haven’t lost calves or weanling pigs as a result of the flood, but he did acknowledge that they will be impacted in terms

of gaining access to hay lands, pastures and alfalfa fields. Dwain Lingenfelter, leader of the opposition New Democratic Party, said he was disappointed to hear that the aid package was coming in at a low figure. He said his team felt that something closer to $100 per acre would have been more realistic when one figured input costs could be as high as $150 per acre. “They’re trying to make this sound like it’s a huge relief package, this $450 million, but when you consider the fact that over 10,000 farmers are being impacted and require assistance, it doesn’t amount to that much … in fact it’s less than half of what was spent for security alone in Toronto last weekend,” Lingenfelter said, referring to the $1.2 billion price tag that went into security services for the three-day G8 and G20 international summit that was hosted by the federal and Ontario governments in Huntsville and Toronto.

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“Those people setting up in Toronto got what they figured they needed. The cheques were written, no questions asked. But our livestock producers are being left out of the relief program entirely and they can’t believe it. Young farmers with mortgages to pay … well, if interest rates keep going up, we’ll be seeing some real devastation and heartbreak on the Saskatchewan farms later this year or early next year,” Lingenfelter said. Bjornerud said he realized $30 per acre would not be covering the entire losses, saying that he agreed that input costs are traditionally around $150 per acre, de-

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pending on crop types and conditions. “But at least it’s something and it’s immediate and should be easy to apply for,” he said. Crop insurance assessors will determine eligible acreage. Producers not enrolled in crop insurance, who could not get their land seeded by June 20 or lost crop because of flooding on or before July 31, will need to fill out an application form which will be available at all RM offices. The deadline for the EMP program application will be September 30. The flooded plains were viewed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper from a helicopter late last week. The PM spent a few minutes on the ground shortly after, but did not field any media questions and met only briefly with a local farmer in a pre-arranged session before heading on to Calgary and the Stampede. Harper was joined by Bjornerud, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall and federal Agriculture and AgriFood Minister Gerry Ritz for the quick tour.

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