Hay West 2021 highlights connection between Canadian producers

Farmers in Eastern Canada sent hay to drought-stricken farmers in prairies

“The supply will not be enough to make up the total shortfall, but I know we all appreciate any help that our producers can get."

- Canadian Federation of Agriculture

A farmer living near Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, experienced exceptional drought conditions in the summer months of 2021. That farmer is roughly 3,000 kilometers from a producer living in southern Ontario, an area that saw a bumper hay crop in 2021. The two farmers don’t know each other, but there’s a kinship between them. They both love agriculture. They love the work of farming, the joy of a good year’s harvest, and both understand the uncertainty and struggles of a poor year. It’s that bond between both farmers, thousands of kilometers apart from each other, that was on display for the Hay West 2021 initiative.

Drought-stricken prairies

Farmers in the prairie provinces seeded crops in dry soil, hoping rain was on its way. But Saskatchewan’s spring and summer months were hot and dry, leading to a historic drought across most of the province. Many regions of Saskatchewan suffered extreme drought conditions resulting in crops under-developing or dying early in the season. The lack of rain decimated the province’s hay crops, leading to a shortfall of 4 million tonnes of hay, according to the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA). The lack of hay to feed livestock over the prairie’s harsh winter months has meant many producers have had to look at their breeding stock and sell part of or all their herd. The selling of part of Canada’s breeding stock could create supply chain issues in the coming years for the country.

Hay West

In the fall, farmers across eastern Canada with an excess amount of hay, sent bales to the prairie provinces to support producers struggling with little to no feed for their livestock under the Hay West 2021 initiative. Hay West 2021 was organized by the CFA and many other Canadian Agricultural associations and organizations, including the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan. CFA said it wouldn’t fully address the hay shortfall in Western Canada but knew this program could provide relief to some producers to allow them to main their herds and protect the breeding stock for the future of Canada’s livestock industry. Hay West provided hay to eligible producers in Western Canada at a subsidized rate per pound. Producers who were eligible for the program needed winter feed to maintain their livestock herds. Farmers and ranchers were required to submit an online application to be eligible. This drought was not the first time producers in Canada have shipped hay across the country to support struggling producers. In 2002, farmers in Eastern Canada shipped hay to the prairies, and in 2012, prairie farmers sent hay to Eastern Canada under the Hay East initiative.

Working together

APAS is very appreciative to our colleagues at CFA, Ontario Federation of Agriculture, Union des Producteurs Agricoles de Quebec, Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture, the Agricultural Alliance of New Brunswick and the PEI Federation of Agriculture for their work in organizing hay supplies for our producers in the prairie provinces.

For more information, visit haywest2021.net

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