Cattle can’t graze as dry May brings fear of drought in Alberta

Cattle can’t graze as dry May brings fear of drought in Alberta

By Jen Skerritt, Bloomberg

Source: www.agweb.com

Gray clouds gather near Greg Bowie’s Alberta ranch, but not a raindrop in sight.

Bowie’s 350-acre pasture is so thirsty that it hasn’t grown enough to feed his 100 cattle. He spent C$3,600 ($2,892) in May to truck in hay.

“It basically doubles your cost on every animal every day,” Bowie, chairman of Alberta Beef Producers, said from his ranch near Ponoka. “The pasture and the hay land need considerably more moisture this time of year and we just haven’t had it.”

Dry conditions have worsened in pockets of Canada’s cattle country, with some areas receiving less than 40 percent of normal rainfall, according to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Livestock producers are bringing in extra hay as forage and some are considering selling animals to reduce costs, said Fred Hays, policy analyst at the Calgary-based beef-producers organization, an industry group that represents 20,000 ranchers.

The dry spell is the latest setback for Canada’s cattle industry, which has declined in the past decade following mad cow disease, floods and labor shortages. The herd in Canada, the world’s eighth-largest beef exporter, is the smallest in 22 years.

“They don’t have the pastures that they need,” Hays said. “It’s getting more and more serious.”

No Rain

While dry spring weather helped some farmers get an early start on planting, below-normal rainfall has kept pastures from turning green and producing feed, said Trevor Hadwen, agroclimate specialist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Parts of Saskatchewan and Alberta, Canada’s largest cattle producer, have not received rain for as long as 31 days and one area of eastern Alberta has seen record dryness since April 1, he said. Dry conditions also hampered canola seeding in parts of the Prairies.

May is typically a wet month and the area is “getting close” to a drought, Hadwen said. Lack of moisture is also raising concern about grass fires, he said.concern about grass fires, he said.

There were 39 wildfires burning in Alberta as of June 5, including two that were out of control, the province said.

“Drought is a progressive, slow onset, kind of a creeping disaster,” Hadwen said. “We’re certainly going down that path.”

The situation is a contrast to the U.S., the world’s largest beef producer, where the wettest May on record has boosted pasture conditions in Texas and is prompting ranchers to expand their herds. Drought conditions that shrunk herds to the smallest since 1952 are easing and the U.S. Department of Agriculture forecasts domestic beef output will halt its four- year slide in 2015 and increase next year.

Smaller Herds

Continued dry weather and lack of rain is starting to affect crops in many areas of Alberta, the province’s agriculture ministry said in a May 29 report. Surface soil moisture declined 24 percent from a week earlier and hay and pasture growth is slow due to cool nights and dry conditions, according to the report.

Canadian ranchers held 11.9 million cattle as of January 1, the fewest since 1993, government data show. Slaughter and exports rose in 2014 as record high beef prices offered farmers an incentive to move their animals, Statistics Canada said in a March 5 report.

If dry weather continues into June, producers may start sending cattle to be processed in the U.S., said Brian Perillat, a senior analyst at Calgary-based Canfax, a livestock industry researcher. Prices won’t increase as U.S. ranchers are expanding their herds and will be able to absorb cattle coming from Canada, he said.

Extra Costs

Insurance programs don’t cover the cost of trucking in feed and the price of hay will probably rise as much as C$30 per bale, almost double the current price, if demand for forage increases, Hays said. It can cost producers “tens of thousands” of dollars to bring in forage for cattle, depending on the size of the herd, he said.

“There’s quite an expense there,” Hays said. “That’s when producers might start thinking it’s time to start liquidating.”

Bowie normally puts his cattle out to graze on pasture land in mid-May and estimates he’s already two weeks behind.

“If we don’t get any moisture we might as well graze what’s there,” Bowie said. “The longer it stays dry the higher the costs go.”

Manitoba: Western Canada farmers scramble for canola seed to re-plant after frost

By Rod Nickel

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) – Western Canadian farmers are scrambling to find scarce canola seed as they re-plant crops snuffed out by frost and insects.

Farmers have until mid- to late June to plant ahead of insurance deadlines, but the later they sow canola, the higher the risk of damage later from heat or frost. Canada is the biggest producer and exporter of canola, used to produce vegetable oil.

Western Canada’s Prairies are prone to crop-damaging weather, from floods to drought, but severe frost last week arrived unusually late in spring.

“We’ve never seen an event like this,” said Rob Schultz, vice-president of sales and commercial operations for Bayer CropScience Canada, whose InVigor brand makes up about half of Western Canada’s canola seed sales. “We’re trying to go as fast as we can to manage the demand.”

Since last week’s frost, government crop insurance corporations in Manitoba and Saskatchewan have registered 1,500 and 900 crop insurance claims respectively, mostly for canola.

For the year, Manitoba has received 2,550 claims for re-seeding covering 800,000 acres (324,000 hectares), mostly since last week, said claims manager David Van Deynze.

David Hansen, chief executive of Winnipeg-based Canterra Seeds, estimates that farmers are re-sowing 1 million acres of canola across the Prairies.

Both Bayer and rival Monsanto said they moved quickly to transfer seed inventories to short areas such as southwestern Manitoba and eastern Saskatchewan, as well as treat additional seed.

“The supply isn’t really the issue, it’s more around getting it in the right place at the right time,” Schultz said.

Kyle Holman usually buys seed near his Crystal City, Manitoba farm. But this week he drove 90 minutes for most of the seed he will need to replant 560 canola acres.

He planted those acres during the first week of May, earlier than usual. That canola survived flea beetles and a cold blast around mid-May before frost destroyed it last weekend.

“It’s very frustrating and disappointing to lose it this late,” Holman said.

Others have it worse. Some of Holman’s neighbors are planting canola for the third time this spring.

Typically, about 0.4 percent of the canola seed Monsanto sells for spring planting is re-seeded, but this year that percentage may be 3 percent, said Neil Arbuckle, Monsanto Canada’s national sales and strategy lead.

“We’ve done our best to get product into the hands of farmers, who are quite antsy to get product into the ground,” he said.

Report: The Cost of Injury in Canada

Today, Parachute launched The Cost of Injury in Canada Report that show the financial costs of preventable injuries are rising, while the human costs are catastrophic. Using the latest national and provincial data available (2010), the Report shows $27 billion is lost to the economy, surpassing heart and stroke disease costs. Injury is the number one killer of Canadians aged 1-44, with 43 people dying every day. The loss of life is equivalent to a jumbo jet crashing every ten days, with no survivors.

These statistics show that without intervention, the numbers of deaths and injuries will continue to climb.

Injury Impact

2004

2010

2015*

2035*

$ lost to Canadian economy

$20 billion

$27 billion

$33 billion

$75 billion

Canadian deaths

37 per day

43 per day

46 per day

71 per day

*Forecasted based on 2010 data

Since the previous Report, economic losses have risen 35 per cent; and, without action, forecasts show it will rise by 180 per cent in 2035.

Parachute published the Report in collaboration with The Conference Board of Canada and with funding support from The Public Health Agency of Canada. The Report release event – held today at the Economic Club of Canada – was sponsored by Great-West Life, London Life and Canada Life, Parachute’s National Development Sponsor.

For a full overview of the report, visit http://www.parachutecanada.org/costofinjury  If you have any questions, please contact us at info@parachutecanada.org. We look forward to hearing from you.

Frost damage in Manitoba drives up canola prices

By Rod Nickel

Source: Reuters

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) – Frost late last week in the Canadian Prairie province of Manitoba wiped out many canola fields, driving up the oilseed’s price and generating hundreds of insurance claims from farmers.

The damage from unseasonable freezing temperatures on Friday and early Saturday was worst in western Manitoba, Angela Brackenreed, agronomy specialist in Manitoba for the Canola Council of Canada, said on Monday.

“There’s a lot of fields that are completely written off, that need to be re-seeded,” she said.

Brackenreed said it is too early to estimate the number of acres lost as damage varied widely from one field to another.

ICE Canada November canola futures jumped 3.4 percent on Monday.

The frost compounded worries about the size of the crop in Canada, the biggest producer and exporter of canola, a futures trader said. Some crops on Western Canada’s Prairies have struggled with too little moisture, and the number of acres planted was already smaller than expected.

Canola is crushed to produce vegetable oil, used in foods such as margarine and salad dressings.

Manitoba Agricultural Services Corp, the provincial government corporation that sells crop insurance to farmers, recorded 700 claims on Monday, nearly doubling the total for the whole year, said David Van Deynze, manager of claims.

The claims are mainly for canola, and Van Deynze said he expected more to flow in this week.

“Honestly, our phones are ringing off the hook.”

He said the corporation had not tallied how many acres are included in the claims.

Cereals such as wheat, barley and oats are better able to withstand cold than canola.

The frost hit early enough in the growing season that farmers still can re-plant their crops if they choose, Brackenreed said. Some traders said, however, that farmers may find it difficult to buy seed, which is typically in low supply after planting season.

Damage hit most of western Manitoba and parts of eastern Manitoba, Van Deynze said. Farmers in the southern half of the province must plant canola by June 20 to qualify for crop insurance, while the deadline is June 15 for northern areas.

Damage was also visible in some fields on Monday in northeastern Alberta, where light frosts hit last week, said Lawrence Yakielashek, general manager of FarmLink Marketing Solutions, who was driving across the Prairies.

Update: The Sprout: Western farmers running out of canola seed 

 

 

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