Flooded farmland was one of many topics discussed at the Western Premiers’ Conference (WPC) in Vancouver today. Excess water on agricultural lands in the prairie provinces has significantly impacted seeding in areas of Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta.
Premiers Wall, Selinger and Stelmach raised this issue as part of a general discussion about water management policy at the WPC table. Rains this spring have resulted in the highest unseeded acreage in recent history and an expectation of the largest abandoned acreage in Western Canada since the early 1970s.
“Yesterday I had the opportunity to tour the northeast part of our province which has seen the bulk of the excess water,” Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall said. “Many farmers won’t get crops in the ground this year, while others have seeded acres now under water. This situation is going to have a serious impact on farm incomes this year.”
Thirty per cent of Saskatchewan cropland and 15 per cent in Manitoba are not yet seeded. While the amount of land seeded could increase by the seeding deadline, the change would likely be marginal. According to the Canadian Wheat Board, between 8.25 and 12.5 million acres of Prairie farmland will go unseeded this year. While seeding is normally complete at this time of year, only 78 per cent has been done to date.
Manitoba faced similar problems last year as well.
“Our farmers are once again facing a difficult situation,” Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger said. “Although we have programs in place to assist in times of need, governments have to work together to make sure our farmers get the help they require under these challenging conditions.”
“While the flooding is not as widespread, in Alberta, input costs and commodity prices are always a risk,” Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach said. “This year our farmers and rural communities face the additional challenge of getting a crop in.”
The issue has been raised with the federal agriculture minister. It is important the ministers from the affected jurisdictions and our federal government work quickly to address the damage and offer support for hard-hit farming communities, the premiers said.