The first drought relief payment of $94 per head should be in the hands of cattle producers early next month.
In the meantime, producers need to make sure they have an account with Agriculture Financial Services Corporation (AFSC) and start putting together a record of “extraordinary” feed expenses because of the drought.
“We’re working towards the finalization of our application process and we’re targeting early September to have that available,” said Jason Turner, manager of lending and AgriStability with AFSC.
The insurer is handling the Alberta portion of the federal-provincial AgriRecovery program (called the 2021 Canada-Alberta Livestock Feed Assistance Initiative) that will see $340 million go out to cattle and livestock producers in the province.
The total payment on the cattle side is slated to be $200 per breeding female to cover “eligible feed and water access costs” because the heat wave and drought withered pastures and crops. Some producers have already run out of pasture and are having to draw on their meagre supply of stored feed. Finding additional feed is not only going to be expensive but challenging as the drought is Prairie-wide.
Other livestock are also covered, but at different rates. For example, bison are rated at 1.0 (the equivalent of cattle) so would be eligible for the full $200 while sheep and goats are rated at 0.2, so would be eligible for $40 per head.
Although details are still being hammered out, AFSC’s website states, “All producers should ensure they have an inventory of the breeding females they had on hand as of Aug. 6, and keep records of extraordinary expenses incurred to feed livestock up to Dec. 31.”
Aug. 6 is the date the UCP government announced it would put $136 million towards an AgriRecovery program for cattle producers. It wasn’t until Aug. 15, just hours before the federal election was called, that the federal Liberal government agreed to put $204 million into the 60:40 cost-shared program.
However, Turner said producers should keep records of additional costs going back to June 1 and said details regarding the second payment (of $106 per head for cows) are still being worked on.
“I can’t speak as to how the secondary payment will flow, but in terms of record-keeping, it’s better to be overprepared than underprepared,” said Turner.
“We’re working with some urgency to get our process together and be able to deliver, and get funds into producers’ hands at the earliest possible date. And we’re working with our partners within Alberta’s Agriculture and Forestry Ministry, the federal government and producer groups, and we’re trying to move forward with as much urgency as we can on all fronts.”
While early September is the target for the first $94 payment, there’s no specific date yet on when the second payment will be released.
“Some of those details are still being worked through,” said Turner.
Drought-stricken livestock producers who are current AFSC clients should make sure they have an “AFSC Connect” account set up, and enable direct deposit on that account.
“If they have any kind of AFSC subscription with any kind of our business lines, that should allow them to set up an AFSC account,” he said.
Those who are not current clients will need to sign up for an AFSC Connect account.
“Directions for sign-up will be available soon,” Turner said Aug. 18. “We want to ensure that there are no duplicates in the system, so the client experience flows as smoothly as possible.”
AFSC’s website will be the most up-to-date source of info, he said, but since not all producers have easy access to the internet, branch staff in all locations should be able to answer most questions.
To find out details and for a list of frequently asked questions, visit the AgriRecovery page at afsc.ca.
For more content related to drought management visit The Dry Times, where you can find a collection of stories from our family of publications as well as links to external resources to support your decisions through these difficult times.