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Manitoba farmers declare agricultural disaster from drought

Farmers in Manitoba are facing a crisis due to a lack of rain.

As reported by the Winnipeg Sun, farmers from 12 of the province’s municipalities sent out a notice on Thursday declaring an agricultural disaster, blaming this year’s drought conditions.

Art Jonasson, a reeve for the rural municipality of West Interlake told the Winnipeg Sun that the dry conditions have left grain, hay and straw producers with crop yields that are 20-40 per cent of what’s normal.

He said it’s had a tremendous impact on farmers who need feed for their livestock, adding that some have had to spend two to three times more than they usually would. Others have opted to sell significant portions of their herd because they simply can’t afford it.

Jonasson said about 600 animals were sold at a recent auction in Ashern, Man.

“It’s so dry that some farmers are using their feed already when the cattle should be pasturing for another two months yet,” he added. “They’re using the feed they’d use during the winter.”

Curtis McRae, director of the Manitoba Canola Growers is also a farmer in the Interlake region of Manitoba.

He said the true impact of the drought won’t be felt until the ground freezes.

“That is when we have to figure out how much feed we have for our cows,” he said. “It’s kind of out of our hands until Mother Nature decides to freeze things up. On the grain side of things, we’re definitely going to take a hit on our yields.”

McRae said he’s hoping for rain and good temperatures in the forecast so he doesn’t have to sell off some of his herd.

The rural municipalities are asking the provincial government to lead discussions with its federal counterparts to have an assessment done.

Ralph Eichler, Manitoba’s Minister of Agriculture, told the Sun that the province reached out to the federal government before the start of Manitoba’s election.