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Higher AgriStability advances on tap for Interlake

Grain growers and livestock producers in Manitoba’s rain-soaked Interlake region can now get up to 75 per cent of their total AgriStability payment in advance.

Eligible producers will be able to complete a “simplified” form to get the advance, which was previously boosted from 50 up to 60 per cent “in recognition of the challenging financial conditions many affected farmers are facing as a result of extreme weather,” the federal agriculture department said in a release Thursday.

“We have met and listened to affected producers and are taking additional steps to help farmers whose land is under water,” provincial Agriculture Minister Rosann Wowchuk said in a separate release. “More money is going to be available sooner, so that farmers can shift their focus away from the flooding and back to managing their farms.”

Any producer in the affected area who has already applied for an advance will be automatically eligible for the higher 75 per cent advance payment, the province said. All other producers continue to eligible for a 50 per cent AgriStability advance. In any case, farmers must be enrolled in AgriStability to be eligible for an interim payment.

The simplified form allows for quicker processing times, the federal government said, and eligible farmers should get their payments within 30 days of receipt of a completed application.

Other flood funds

Farms in the Interlake region, the area of agricultural Manitoba between Lake Manitoba and Lake Winnipeg, took a one-in-150-year rainfall in late August, which caused significant flooding and still stymies many farmers’ efforts to put up hay for their livestock or harvest crops.

Thursday’s announcement follows a previous total pledge of over $10 million from the province and Ottawa earlier this month through the AgriRecovery program to assist affected producers, delivered through the Manitoba Forage Assistance Program (MFAP).

The province also announced Sept. 5 it will cover the full cost of well-water testing for affected individuals in the Interlake until Nov. 30. Normally the province picks up 70 per cent of the cost for such testing.

MFAP and the higher AgriStability advances are available now and not contingent on the declaration of a state of emergency, the province said in its release. The provincial Emergency Measures Act allows authorities to seek additional powers to prevent or limit loss of life or damage to property, such as imposing travel restrictions or carrying out evacuations, Wowchuk said.

“Declaring a state of emergency has no bearing on the flow of government assistance funding as in the United States,” the province noted.

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