As farmers across the province struggle to battle hot conditions and below than average precipitation to nourish their crops, they’re quickly turning to an alternate use for their yields.
Instead of planning for a fall harvest, some are biting the bullet and making use of their fields to use for cattle feed.
David Plett from Rockrose Dairy has seen spotty growth in his fields as rain is only coming to some parts of his fields and not others.
"You can have an area which is doing relatively OK, and then you go two miles in a different direction and it’s decimated," he said.
In his case his Kleefeld crops are faring fine at the moment but rely on future weather.
Environment Canada’s historical data shows a normal July brought an average of 93 mm of rainfall in the Steinbach area between 1981 and 2010. This year The Weather Network has recorded just 9.1 mm of precipitation as of July 21.
Many farmers are turning to insurance claims through the Agri-Insurance program with the Manitoba Agriculture Services Corporation. David Van Deynze, chief client officer for MASC, said they anticipate seeing more claims for crop insurance come fall.
"We understand it’s a fairly dire situation in a lot of parts of the province for sure. A lot of our workload so far to this point has been producers who are wanting to take their cereal crops and in turn them to livestock feed," he said.
"However we anticipate a lot more claims come fall."
The Agri-Insurance program works with farmers to assess what their annual yields would be during a traditional harvest and compensates them for shortfall based on those numbers. While the dollar values of crops are established prior to the start of the crop year, farmers cannot make claims for parts of their field, only for the entire acreage.
Van Deynze said Plett’s situation is not abnormal this year for they’re seeing many fields with good growth in some areas that retain moisture well, and some parts which are seeing little to no growth.
"However, if they have several good fields that might offset that bad field to the point where they don't have an insurance claim."
Aside from MASC’s insurance program, communities across the province are doing what they can to help out their neighbours, including Gilbraith Farm Services out of St Claude which is helping grain farmers who are in a position to claim crop insurance match with beef and dairy producers to pass on their failed crops to use as feed.
"Many fields will not be making grain this year but can be silage to make decent feed for animals," Joanne Gilbraith said in a message to The Carillon. Famers are in luck in that they can claim insurance on their crop with MASC’s program while still selling failed yields to other producers to help bridge the gap on lost revenue.
"[We’re] trying to encourage grain farmers and MASC to work with producers."
Manitoba Beef Producers said in a press release they plan to continue working with MASC and commodity group representatives on making damaged crops from farmers available to those looking for livestock feed. Farm Credit Canada is also offering support programs for those facing production challenges.
Back at Plett’s acreage he has yet to claim insurance on his crops, but only time will tell.
"I’m confident things will be OK, but anything could happen."