December 15th, 2021, Ottawa – Today, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) held a press conference to announce $3 million of funding for the Hay West 2021 initiative. This brings the government’s total contribution to the program to $4 million.
The Hay West initiative helps farmers in the West who are currently suffering from a hay shortage due to the devastating 2021 drought. Farmers from the Maritimes, as well as Ontario and Quebec, have graciously committed and/or donated hay to be sent out west to help feed livestock.
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.
“The Hay West program has been a heartwarming response to a devastating situation. We have seen farmers come together to help their colleagues across the country, and this funding from AAFC will facilitate the delivery of hay to farmers and ranchers who otherwise would have no feed to maintain valuable breeding stock. Breeding stock takes decades to build up and the more animals we can help maintain the more we minimize the long-term damage to our beef sector,” said CFA President Mary Robinson.
“We appreciate today’s announcement, this funding is a clear signal from the government that it supports this important initiative. Hay West 2021 will not fill the need for hay in its entirety, but the hay we are able to send will help mitigate the fallout and long-term damage. So far, we have helped feed approximately 17,000 cattle. These funds will help avert disaster for a few months, but the need for more hay will continue into late Spring in order to keep western herds viable and to avoid further culling of valuable breeding stock,”
“We know valuable breeding stock are now being culled due to both a lack of hay in the immediate, as well as ‘supply uncertainty’ through to Spring. We also know that those eastern farmers who baled and stockpiled extra hay to ship to western Canadian farms will have to consider selling it elsewhere, potentially to the US, because we cannot give them a firm commitment that we will be able to move it for them. Today’s announcement will certainly help alleviate much of the immediate uncertainty and some of the stress that these farmers are facing,”
“With these funds, we can feed more, but we will be seeking ongoing funding from the government and corporate donors to continue this program over the coming months to help as many animals and producers as possible. Every shipment is saving animals and saving farm families’ livelihoods. The more certainty and predictability we can give farmers on both ends of these shipments, the better they will be able to prepare and help minimize the long-term impacts of this feed shortage on our Canadian Beef Sector. The more funding we secure, the more breeding stock we can help maintain and the faster recovery will be.”
As of this announcement, the government has provided $4 million to the Hay West program. 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 would like to note the matching donation from CN Rail above, meaning that any new donations to the program will effectively double their impact.
If you are a corporate or private donor looking to make a contribution to Hay West 2021, please contact Laurie Karson at Laurie@canadian-farmers.ca