On Wednesday, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Marie-Claude Bibeau, announced an investment of up to $4 million towards the Canadian Federation of Agriculture’s (CFA) Hay West 2021 initiative.
Through the program, the CFA is connecting Eastern farmers with Western and northern Ontario farmers in need of feed. The Government of Canada and corporate sponsors are helping to offset the freight costs to transport hay between those farmers.
In September, the government approved $1 million, which has helped transport approximately 150 shipments (5.6 million pounds) of hay to feed 16,750 cattle. Over the coming months, up to $3 million in additional funding will continue to support the movement of hay across the country.
“The past year for our producers has been marked by numerous challenges related to climate change. They have demonstrated great strength of character, the willingness to rebuild, extraordinary resilience and also exceptional solidarity. They were able to rely on each other, and on our government, no matter where they were in the country, making it easier for everyone to bounce back. By investing in Hay West, our government is bolstering the solidarity that unites our agricultural producers,” said Bibeau.
All proceeds from donations go directly to paying the transportation costs for moving hay across Canada and the logistical support needed to do so. CFA has sent over 5.5 million pounds of hay out West, but the demand is great and more funding is needed to send as much hay as possible over the coming months.
“CFA is appreciative of AAFC's contribution of up to $4 million to Hay West 2021," said CFA President Mary Robinson. "This funding will help offset transportation costs to move hay from eastern Canadian farms to western Canadian farms, helping a portion of western farmers and ranchers who have experienced a catastrophic drought. Without hay, a vital part of a cow’s diet, these ranchers and farmers face the difficult decision to prematurely cull herds. The impact of the 2021 drought has been devastating and the need for hay and funding for this program will continue until pastures are available in mid 2022. CFA will continue to seek additional funding from both the government and corporate donors to help move as much hay as possible, and to save as many animals as possible over the coming months.”
CFA has also received other donations from Farm Credit Canada ($50,000), the Ontario Federation of Agriculture ($50,000), the government of Prince Edward Island and CN Rail ($125,000 with an offer to match other donations up to an additional $125,000, for a total commitment of $250,000).
CFA says the matching donation from CN Rail above, meaning that any new donations to the program will effectively double their impact.