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Ottawa boosts Man. forage aid program

Applications are now available for Manitoba’s promised program to help producers pay to haul feed or move livestock due to excess moisture or drought, as the federal government sweetens the program pot.

Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz on Friday announced $6.1 million for the Manitoba Forage Assistance Program (MFAP), bringing total funding to $10.2 million for the program that was announced Aug. 25 by provincial Ag Minister Rosann Wowchuk.

MFAP will apply across Manitoba, providing feed transportation assistance for hay and straw being transported to feed to eligible animals. As a farm management alternative, the program provides support to transport livestock to alternate feeding locations within the province.

The federal funding for MFAP will flow through the AgriRecovery component of the new suite of federal/provincial business risk management programming.

“Consistently heavy rainfalls, overland flooding and drought in different areas of the province have resulted in many livestock producers being unable to salvage their forage crops,” the federal government said in its release. “As a result, there is a serious shortage of feed to meet wintering requirements.”

“We know that for affected livestock producers it’s urgent they can get feed to the areas most affected by this year’s excessive rains, overland flooding and drought,” Wowchuk said in a separate provincial release announcing the particulars for MFAP.”We’ve accelerated our work on this program to deliver assistance to producers as soon as possible.”

Application forms are available at Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives (MAFRI) GO offices throughout the province and are also available online. Completed applications must be submitted at a GO office by March 31, 2009 at the latest, the province said.

Producers eligible for MFAP must be short of feed due to drought or excess moisture conditions and have had ownership of the animals in question from Aug. 1, 2008, to the date of application. Also, the animals must be located in Manitoba. The amount of assistance available will vary with the type of feed and livestock, the province said.

Eligible livestock include beef cattle, dairy cattle fed to produce beef, bison, elk, sheep, goats, deer, ranch horses and llamas.

In addition to hay and straw, in designated rural municipalities (RMs), grain, pelleted screenings and concentrated feeds are also eligible for transportation assistance.

Designated RMs include St. Laurent, Coldwell, Siglunes, Grahamdale, Fisher, Bifrost, Eriksdale, Armstrong, Gimli, Alonsa, Mossey River, Ethelbert, Mountain South and Lawrence, areas of Northern Affairs jurisdiction and the First Nations of Peguis, Fisher River, Lake Manitoba, Ebb and Flow, Sandy Bay, Little Saskatchewan, Lake St. Martin, Dauphin River, Kinonjeoshtegon, O-Chi-Chak-Ko-Sipi and Skownan, and Pinaymootang.

Well water testing

The provincial government also announced Friday that until November 30 it will pay the full cost of precautionary tests of wells that may have been affected by recent overland flooding in the Interlake region between Lake Winnipeg and Lake Manitoba.

The province normally covers just 70 per cent of the cost for such water testing.

“We are urging residents to test their well water as soon as
possible, as a precaution, due to record rains,” Water Stewardship Minister Christine Melnick said in a separate release. “Some areas received about twice the normal amount of rain since June.”

The Arborg, Gypsumville, Fisher Branch and Ashern areas received
385 to 474 mm of precipitation since June, the highest
amount recorded since 1951, the province said.

“The storm of Aug. 11-12 will go down in the records as a
one-in-150-year event because 85 mm of rain fell over 90 minutes
on already saturated ground,” Melnick said Friday.

The Office of Manitoba’s Chief Medical
Officer of Health has advised all people using water from wells
that may have been affected by heavy rains or
flooding to boil water before using it or to find
other supplies of drinking water until flooding subsides
and tests are satisfactory.

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