Sask. to seek compensation for rain-soaked farms

(Resource News International) — Saskatchewan’s agriculture minister says you have to see it to believe it, in terms of the amount of water lying on the province’s cropland.

Bob Bjornerud estimated close to 25 per cent of the crop within the province will not get seeded, and crop already planted will be drowned out, which is why he said he plans to speak with federal officials about further possible compensation for producers other than programs already in place.

Additional compensation for producers “is one of the things we want to talk to (federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz) about and see if there is any opportunity, anything outside of crop insurance,” Bjornerud, who previously farmed at Saltcoats in the province’s southeast, said Tuesday in a phone interview.

Bjornerud said he plans to “highlight the fact that we have a real problem in Saskatchewan and see if anything else can be done.”

Bjornerud said he has been touring cropland in Saskatchewan since June 7 and the worst areas are regions in the east-central part of the province. Some quarter-sections were 50 per cent covered by water with 40 to 50 sloughs on the land, he said.

The land, he said, is “so saturated right now and the water table is right up to the top. Unless it evaporates it has nowhere to go.”

The excess moisture on the Prairies is affecting more than just Saskatchewan producers, he said, but much of the province’s economy relies on agriculture.

“I know there is a lot of chemical and fertilizer dealers out there that are probably having some pretty sleepless nights after seeing the amount of crop not going into the ground,” Bjornerud said.

During his tour, Bjornerud said, the main concern producers had was for him to see the extent of the excess moisture and for him to bring it to Ritz’s attention as well.

To ensure that Ritz, a former northwestern Saskatchewan farmer, understands “how bad it is” in Saskatchewan, producers want to “give him an invitation to come out and take and look at all the acres that are flooded out,” said Bjornerud.

Farmers, he said, want to get the message across that “we have some real problems in our agriculture sector this summer.”

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