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This article was published 8/7/2019 (194 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Manitoba Beef Producers (MBP) are applauding the province’s recent decision to temporarily allow producers to graze cattle and cut hay on Crown land not normally designated for agriculture use.
The province announced the move last week, noting that livestock must be removed when the naturally existing forage is exhausted or by Oct. 31. Baled hay must be removed by Nov. 15.
"The dry conditions of the past couple of years have created challenging conditions for beef producers in terms of the amount of grazing days available on their pastures and the volume and quality of hay they have been able to harvest," MBP president Tom Teichroeb said in a statement. "We had identified these concerns to the Manitoba government on behalf of our producers. This announcement will provide an important option for producers who require additional feed options and we thank the government for making this available."
The MBP represents 6,500 producers across Manitoba, many of whom are worried about how they’re going to feed their animals.
"I’ve got pictures of cracks in the ground, three inches wide, which (you) don’t generally see in this part of the world," Mike Duguid, a Camp Morton-area farmer, said in a telephone interview on Monday. "We’re usually complaining how wet it is, not how dry. Last year was dry and this year is maybe drier because there’s no moisture from last year."
Duguid, a MBP board member, said that lack of moisture has created a tough year for feed for him and other livestock producers in Manitoba for a second straight year.
"We grow hay, we grow some grain and cattle require quite a bit of pasture, and those three things are all suffering from the dry, which means we’re going to be short hay again, same as last year. Hay crops are probably running a little less than half of what we’re used to and the grain is heading out, but it’s short, so that means there’ll be less straw than normal, too," he said. "The pastures are drying up. Some of the native grasses have already turned brown, so they go dormant until it rains again."
He said the province’s offer of Crown land grazing won’t help his 250 cow-calf operation — there’s no Crown land near him, so he’ll be cutting grain for greenfeed — but it will help many other livestock producers.
"It just takes the pressure off a lot of people because, otherwise, there’s not enough feed for the herds," he said, noting producers have to send more stock to auction if there’s a feed shortfall.
"Last year, a lot of tough decisions were made. We all know that if you can’t feed them, you can’t keep them. So if they can get into some of those (Crown) lands, there’s some areas where there’s lots of grazing and lots of hay land to cut. It’s a little bit rough; it’s not like cutting your lawn, there’s stumps in there and you don’t know what else, but it’s better than nothing. You’ll get some feed out of it."
The Agricultural Lands Leasing program will administer the use of available land and provide necessary permits. A Manitoba Agriculture spokeswoman said requests from producers will be matched with suitable Crown lands.
"The province offered a similar program last fall in areas that were affected by dry conditions and granted about 50 additional permits on non-agricultural Crown land. We expect a similar response this year," she said in an emailed statement.
The province is also asking crop producers to consider making their crop residue available to livestock producers.
"I know there are many beef producers who would welcome those kinds of conversations," Teichroeb stated.
"We will continue to engage with the government about the effects of the dry conditions and possible strategies to help producers deal with these situations, such as water supply challenges."