Tags: Building Strong Communities , Supporting Families

Posted on Dec 14, 2016

Our government will continue to stand with producers

Close up of calves

By Oneil Carlier, Minister of Agriculture & Forestry and MLA for Whitecourt-Ste. Anne.

We know that the beef industry in Alberta is strong and resilient, but we also know that a segment of the heart of beef country is hurting. When a family member is in a bind, we immediately drop everything and come to the aid of the one who needs help. That’s why our government has promised financial support for ranchers faced with a tremendous challenge due to the bovine tuberculosis crisis.

In partnership with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, we announced a few days ago a commitment to support affected producers facing extraordinary costs through the AgriRecovery framework. The federal and provincial governments will compensate southern Alberta ranchers whose herds are under quarantine as a result of the ongoing Bovine TB investigation in our province. Previously, in situations similar to this, AgriRecovery took several months to be available to producers. Within weeks, there has been a commitment from the federal and provincial governments and we are working diligently to set the program in motion so financial assistance can reach ranchers as quickly as possible. Alberta Beef Producers said that this commitment is a "bright spot in what’s been a very gloomy fall" and that they appreciate the steps we’ve taken to ease the financial burden on producers.

Our government has promised financial support for ranchers faced with a tremendous challenge due to the bovine tuberculosis crisis.

Officials from my department have been meeting regularly with producers in the region to provide an update and address concerns related to finances, mental health and the status of the investigation. When the crisis first hit back in September, our response was quick, decisive, and consistent. That’s what you do when family members tell you they need help, they need someone to advocate for them, they need someone to make their voices heard. The department has worked very closely with CFIA officials to offer staff for mapping and other areas of expertise. Early on, government set up a special task force to deal specifically with this important matter. Staff at the Agriculture Financial Services Corporation (AFSC) have also worked hard to inform affected producers on existing financial programs that could help them until AgriRecovery is in place.

This situation came at a terrible time for producers - some of them are looking for their one and only paycheque of the year and it’s not happening right now. Many ranchers planned to sell cattle that they now cannot move and now have to take care of - without the profits they would have had from the sales. Many others will see their animals humanely destroyed as a disease-control measure. We know this is a difficult time for these producers, and it’s creating stress for them financially, logistically, and emotionally.

When my duties and responsibilities at the Legislature wrap up, I will ensure that I meet face-to-face with affected ranchers. In the meantime, producers can address cash flow pressures through the Advance Payments Program and other financial support programs in place and we’re doing everything we can to ensure AgriRecovery funds flow quickly and simply.

We have to bear in mind that measures under this investigation are crucial to protecting the health of Canadian livestock and maintaining markets for our cattle and beef, even if they have created a number of challenges for the producers involved in the quarantines. We are in touch with the CFIA and the industry on a daily basis, we have a team of staff tasked with coordinating our response, we’re providing veterinary support, and we will continue to take action as the situation progresses. Most importantly, our government will continue to stand with producers.

For more information on bovine TB and our response, please click here.

First published in the Stettler Independent, Dec. 14, 2016