Manitoba declares “livestock emergency”

Manitoba’s provincial government plans to designate and open up specific Crown lands to house livestock and store farm machinery — and open up otherwise restricted roads to move them — in areas at serious risk of flooding.

Provincial Agriculture Minister Stan Struthers on Tuesday declared a “livestock emergency,” during which time provincial ag department staff will work with conservation department staff to “identify Crown lands that will be made available for agricultural use.”

The land will be used to house livestock and store machinery until such time the water recedes and the land is no longer needed, Struthers said in a release.

Manitoba Water Stewardship and Manitoba Emergency Measures, using forecast inundation maps, will work with ag department staff to determine the potential flooded areas, and affected livestock and grain operations.

“All work is being done in a prioritized sequence as to who is most at risk,” the province said.

The province also urged producers in areas at less or no risk to lend a hand, which “can make a world of difference during an emergency,” Struthers said.

Producers with extra pasture land or feed are encouraged to contact their local GO office to offer their help. Producers with grain or livestock at risk are also encouraged to contact their local GO office.

“I will leave no stone unturned when it comes to finding support for agricultural producers and their families in response to this year’s flooding,” said Struthers.

R-rated roads

Restrictions on a number of roads have now been eased in flood-affected areas so agricultural producers needing to immediately move feed, livestock or machinery can do so, Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton said Tuesday in a separate release.

“Serious flooding is impacting many areas in the province and we know that agricultural producers have the job of protecting their animals, machinery and feed,” he said. “By providing a reasonable approach to this, we will allow them to make the necessary moves to protect their farming operations” while still limiting overweight traffic on those roads, he added.

“We recognize the significant risk flood waters create for farmers and we want to ensure that producers’ animals and feed are not left stranded,” Struthers said in Ashton’s release.

That said, roads already closed due to flooding will remain closed, Ashton said. “Everyone is reminded about the danger of fast-moving water and are asked to keep away for safety,” the province said.

“Better judgment”

Meanwhile, in the Rural Municipality of St. Laurent and along Highway 6 to Ashern in Manitoba’s waterlogged Interlake region, RCMP on Tuesday warned those who are stealing or damaging flood-related road closure signs to cut it out.

“Removing or defacing signs is illegal and poses serious risks to both unsuspecting motorists and emergency personnel who may be called upon to provide assistance,” RCMP said in a separate release.

“Anyone caught defacing or removing signs will face prosecution. Please use your better judgment.”

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