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Maritime cattlemen short on feed, call for help

The leaders of the three beef industry boards in Atlantic Canada are calling on their provinces’ ag ministers to support “solutions” to a looming feed crisis.

The three boards said in a joint release Monday that a “very serious” feed shortage is evolving due to heavy rainfall in many regions of the Maritimes over the past few months.

Hay and other forage crops are in short supply, the groups said. Some key grain and hay suppliers have been “seriously hurt” by the weather.

In many areas, 40 per cent of the first cut of hay was “unable to be harvested” and a second cut hasn’t been possible. Cereal yields, meanwhile, are down by over 30 per cent.

Moreover, the groups said, “the quality of hay and grain is well below the minimum required to produce beef.”

Many farmers will find it impossible to make up for losses even if the weather improves for a few weeks, the Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick cattle producers’ associations said.

“Poor drying conditions are preventing producers from harvesting remaining forages, adding to the projected shortages,” they said.

The chairmen (Cameron MacDonald, Dave Oulton and Henry Knight respectively) also said they fear producers “faced with too many cattle and too little feed” may liquidate their herds earlier than would otherwise be the case, “adding to an already critical financial challenge.”

“We are looking for an immediate meeting with government to help our producers,” the three groups said after their chairmen met twice last week to discuss the impending feed shortfall.

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