Glacier FarmMedia – Nearly 20 million tonnes of feed made up the 2021 Hay West program.
Now eastern Canadian farmers are hoping things have improved enough on the Prairies this year to help them settle accounts as the aid program’s sponsor, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, wraps up the initiative.
Todd Lewis, CFA second vice-president, said the program was a success but about 10 per cent of the hay sold still hasn’t been paid for.
Why it matters: Although sponsorship helped offset some of the costs to purchase and ship hay to the west, some outstanding bills remain.
“We saved quite a few cattle and we’ve got some outstanding bills,” said Lewis.
Some ranchers came into 2022 already behind the eight ball and continue to have a hard time, and Lewis said this is likely the reason for some of the outstanding bills.
“Some producers haven’t been able to pay for the hay yet but at the same time, we’re working with them and cattle prices are up currently and hopefully through the fall run here we’ll be able to get all the bills cleaned up,” he said.
Canadian National Railway and the federal government covered most of the transportation expenses with assistance from organizations like Farm Credit Canada during a time of skyrocketing fuel costs. The CFA facilitated purchase of the hay between producers in the east and ranchers in the west.
Donated hay also helped offset some of the increases in the cost of shipping, said Lewis.
Despite rising fuel costs over last fall and winter, Lewis said the program, “helped a number of producers preserve their breeding stock and tried to maintain the herd as best as they could.”
While he said the dollar amounts involved aren’t huge, “we’re carrying those costs and we’re trying to get producers in the east paid up.”
Lewis said whether it’s the drought in Western Canada last year or the recent hurricane Fiona that slammed into the East Coast, there may be advantages for the federal government to take the lead in developing an off-the-shelf program to assist livestock producers who face environmental disasters.
He cited American programs that are able to respond to disasters more quickly than ad-hoc initiatives.
But all in all, Lewis said Hay West 2021 should be seen as a success.
“We can look back and say we could’ve done things a little bit differently but at the same time, we were dealing with farmers facing hard financial times looking to preserve their herd,” he said. “It’s understandable we’ve had a few bills that haven’t been paid.”
– This article was originally published at The Western Producer.