No big surprises in province’s emergency drought aid program

Program will pay just over $4 per day to feed cows that have to be pulled off pasture early

No big surprises in province’s emergency drought aid program
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Applications for drought assistance are now being processed and the fine print doesn’t appear to have any major surprises.

As expected, the $340 million in emergency aid for Alberta livestock producers is only for breeding females, covers only grazing livestock (and therefore not pigs, chickens or dairy cows), and producers will need receipts to get the second chunk of the $200-per-head payment.

The first payment of $94 per breeding cow comes with very few strings attached — producers need to have a minimum of 10 animals on hand on Aug. 6, a premises ID, and apply before Oct. 31.

But producers will have to submit documentation to get the second payment.

“Taking a feed-need approach, supplemented by receipts, a secondary payment of up to $106 per head will be available to producers who have experienced extraordinary costs as a result of the drought,” the provincial government said in a news release.

Agriculture Financial Services Corporation (AFSC), which is administering the payments, will use a formula to determine how big that second payment will be. The formula is: Number of Extraordinary Feed Days x Feed Pounds per Day Required x $0.115.

The number of extraordinary feed days is determined by taking the number of days an operation’s livestock are normally on pasture minus “the number of days the participant was able to follow normal grazing practices in 2021.”

“Producers may need to provide evidence of changes to their normal practices to verify their feed-need calculation,” AFSC states on its website.

The pounds-per-day feed needed is based on the animal type and class while the $0.115/pound figure is based on the August price for a blend of forage and grain (specifically alfalfa, hay, greenfeed, silage, cereal straw, oats, and barley). So for a bred cow, that works out to $4.03 per day and for a bred heifer, it’s $3.45 per day, according to an AFSC document. For ewes and nanny goats, it’s 58 cents per day.

How much a producer is paid also depends on the type of livestock. Bison are treated the same as cattle; breeding horses are eligible for $113 now and up to $127 later; and sheep payments are $19 now and up to $21 later.

Other expenses — such as hauling water, feed transport costs, temporary fencing and even pregnancy tests — may be eligible but only up to the max. payment (that is, $200 per head for cows) and only 70 per cent of the costs are covered.

The second payment is based on animals “on hand” on Dec. 31. (The deadline for the second application is Jan. 31, 2022.)

In addition to providing receipts and/or “other supporting documentation deemed acceptable by the initiative’s administration,” it appears some applications could come under closer scrutiny.

“All audits will be random. Participants selected for audit will be notified of information required to complete the audit,” AFSC states on its website.

Producers are being urged to apply online (they will need to either have an AFSC Connect account or sign up for one) but they can also contact their nearest AFSC branch or call 1-877-899-2372. (For more program details, go to and read ‘Support on the way for livestock producers’)

Other provinces

Alberta’s program is similar to other provinces but there are some differences.

In Manitoba, the maximum payment for cows is $250 per head but is based on 75 per cent of the cost of feed purchased from June 1 to March 15, 2022. The province is also covering dairy cows and is putting an emphasis on transportation — whether that’s bringing in feed or moving livestock to where feed is available.

For example, when hauling feed it will pay 16 cents per tonne-kilometre for the first 100 kilometres, and 10 cents per tonne-kilometre for up to another 500 kilometres.

In Saskatchewan, the maximum payment is also $200 per breeding cow, but dairy cows are eligible there, too.

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.

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