In Manitoba, Farmers Race to Save Cattle From Canada’s Drought
A grain and beef farm in Arborg, on the other hand, sells all but two dozen animals from its herd of 250 cows, farmer Stuart Melnychuk said. The farm has been in his family since 1909.
Mr. Melnychuk used part of his grain harvest, which would otherwise be sold, to help feed the cows during the last years of drought. “It’s not that you can go to the neighbor’s house and buy food for these cows,” Melnychuk said. “There is no food to be found here,” he said, adding, “It gets to the point that you can’t get out of a hole you’re going to dig.”
Mr Melnychuk believes he is one of the few who have sold his animals to farmers in other provinces – his own headed for a farm in Ontario – rather than sending them directly to a butcher.
“We have seen a lot of cows coming into the meat market that would normally be in the fields of farmers grazing, and farmers have to make tough decisions,” said Kirk Kiesman, managing director of Ashern Auction Mart, a local cattle auction house. . “No one wants to see their genetic potential turn into meat. “
The harsh economics of supply and demand means that farmers who choose to sell their animals – whether to a butcher or another farmer – face a market full of cows and, as a result, lower price, said Reynold Bergen, scientific director of Beef Cattle. Research Council.
Agriculture is not the most lucrative field to begin with. Interlake farm workers can earn up to C $ 50,000 a year, according to government wage data, with more than 40 percent of Canadian farmers supplementing their income with off-farm work.
“Producers are going to sell these cattle at rock bottom prices, and they are going to lose all the equity they have spent lifetimes or generations accumulating,” said Joe Bouchard, who runs a 400 cow-calf operation. Heads in Fisherman’s Branch. “It has been by far the most difficult year we have ever faced. “
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