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Quarantined Alberta ranches to get AgriRecovery

Ranchers in southeastern Alberta having to feed and maintain quarantined cattle they can’t move or sell can expect a federal/provincial AgriRecovery plan to help cover those costs in the next few days.

Federal Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay and his Alberta counterpart Oneil Carlier on Wednesday announced producers faced with “extraordinary costs” due to federal quarantines against bovine tuberculosis (TB) will be eligible for assistance under the AgriRecovery framework.

The two governments said they will will be working with the Alberta cattle industry “in the coming days” on program details.

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Funding for what the governments call the 2016 Bovine Tuberculosis Assistance Initiative is still “pending the provincial government finalizing program authorities,” they said.

Officials will “ensure that program details reflect the needs of producers and that the money flows as quickly and simply as possible,” MacAulay said in a release.

Costs eligible for the program would include feeding and water infrastructure, feed for the animals, transportation, cleaning and disinfection, as well as interest costs on loans due to the circumstances, the governments said.

Until the AgriRecovery plan is up and running, the governments said, producers can seek “immediate help to address cash flow pressures” through the Advance Payments Program.

The quarantines, which cover over 40 premises — up to five in southwestern Saskatchewan, and the rest in southeastern Alberta — were imposed following a confirmed case of TB in a cow from Alberta after it was slaughtered at a U.S. packing plant.

Of the 40 premises under quarantine, 18 have been declared infected over their cattle’s exposure to one of the six animals confirmed with bovine TB as a result of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s (CFIA) investigation and traceout. Cattle on those 18 premises have been or will be destroyed, CFIA said previously.

Compensation structures have long been in place for producers whose animals are ordered destroyed after a reportable disease is confirmed in a herd or flock. The governments noted funding may also be available to producers through those channels for “other things” ordered destroyed, such as contaminated feed or animal products.

The two governments and industry have also been discussing a “feedlot option” for affected producers who aren’t equipped to overwinter their quarantined calves.

According to Alberta Beef Producers on Monday, the “requirements” for that feedlot option, to maintain biosecurity and the quarantine on the affected animals, have been approved by CFIA and industry.

ABP said Monday it was “currently in the process of identifying feedlots willing to pursue this option.” Asked Wednesday about the search for a feedlot option, an Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada spokesperson said the cattle industry will determine the location of the feedlot site.

Wednesday’s announcement also did not specifically mention AgriRecovery support for the producers in southwestern Saskatchewan whose herds are under quarantine.

However, it did note “federal and provincial government officials are continuing to monitor the situation in Saskatchewan.” — Network

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