Drought triggers municipality to prepare emergency resolution

As ripening crops burn and pastures and water holes dry up, Wallace-Woodworth’s farming councillors urged the municipality to draft a resolution that would put its agricultural industry in line for possible assistance.

At the July 13 meeting, Councillor Diana MacDonald brought forward concern for the drought conditions in her ward and throughout the RM of Wallace-Woodworth. She noted that some Manitoba municipalities had already declared a state of agricultural emergency.

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“Definitely, the cattle farmers are in a bit of a situation around here.”

Dry conditions are favourable to grasshoppers. These along with gophers compete for every blade of grass. “Water issues, that’s a big one for a lot of people.”

Manitoba’s Interlake area has made the news. Recently, Premier Brian Pallister toured parts of the Interlake area. Former Minister of Agriculture Blaine Pedersen said, “The department is closely monitoring conditions across the province and is in discussions with impacted groups to see how the province may be of additional assistance,” according to CBC news this past week.

Coun. Barb Stambuski compared the local situation to the west Interlake area, saying “We’re not at the point they are yet, but we’re getting there.”

Reeve Clayton Canart acknowledged the plight of cattle farmers and added that “if we don’t get any moisture, we’re not far behind with the grain side.”

He said that if council is not yet ready to declare the drought situation as an emergency in the RM, he asked, “How do you want to monitor that?”

Both MacDonald and Stambuski added that grain is burning up day by day.

Coun. Rea Kinnaird said, “If we don’t get anything (rain) this week, it’s not going to fill,” adding that every day the yield is dropping and “the price is going up.”

Caldwell asked CAO Garth Mitchell what would be the value to the municipality of declaring an agricultural emergency.

He said “By doing that resolution, what we’re doing is putting a spotlight on it for the province saying, listen, our ag producers need some help here.”

Mitchell also said that in reading resolutions from other municipalities and watching the news, cattle farmers have had to drill alternate wells, meaning government money could help with that. Locally, herds are having to be moved to find water.

Caldwell chimed in saying, “Why wait? Even if we get 10 inches of rain in the next week our agricultural producers are already in trouble, not having hay, not having pasture.”

Counc. Mark Humphries runs cattle on crown land where he says that in 14 years and they’ve never been short of water there, but now, “we’ve got about a week left for 70 cows and calves.”

As far as the grasshopper problem, Stambuski (who works with crop insurance) said, “We’re already getting claims from farmers having to cut wheat… .”

The reeve noted the results of drought will be felt when winter comes and cattle feed is short, and in the fall harvest when yields for wheat and canola are not there.

A resolution regarding an agricultural emergency will be drawn up to be put to a formal vote in council’s next meeting, two weeks hence.

The forecast shows no easing of the heat in upcoming days. In fact, it shows an intensifying of the heat wave.

© Virden Empire-Advance