Submitted by Cathy Holtslander on Thu, 07/03/2014 - 13:57
(JULY 3, 2014,Deleau, MB)- Intense, widespread flooding in eastern Saskatchewan and western Manitoba over the Canada Day weekend has caused unprecedented damage to farms, crops, farmland and rural infrastructure. The National Farmers Union (NFU) urges the federal and provincial governments to provide a stream-lined process to get emergency relief funds to all affected farmers as quickly as possible. Rural Municipalities must be funded to maintain and upgrade infrastructure to handle more frequent and severe storms. The NFU also calls upon all levels of government to implement effective greenhouse gas reduction policies to prevent the acceleration of climatic instability.
“We know about spring flooding, but now we are also getting flooded by huge rainstorms that last for days. It’s like an inland hurricane,” said NFU Region 5 (MB) Coordinator, Ian Robson. “Community members help each other when disaster strikes – that’s a strong Canadian value we can be proud of. We need action from all levels of government to deal with consequences from destabilized weather patterns.”
“After a cold, wet spring with late seeding, many farmers face drowned pastures and hayfields that are too muddy to harvest,” said NFU Board member, Beverly Stow of Carmen, MB. “Without timely help, this situation may lead cow-calf producers to sell off, further reducing regional cattle herds.”
“Disaster relief funds need to flow quickly so that individual farmers and Rural Municipalities are not left wondering when they will be able to pay their bills,” said Melville-area farmer, Ed Sagan, NFU Region 6 (Saskatchewan) Coordinator.
“Farmers are innovating to adapt to less predictable weather – by making silage instead of dry hay, for example,” said Robson. “Each province can help farmers cooperate by promoting online tools to help connect producers who have pasture or hay available with those in need of grazing and feed. Manitoba’s feed transportation assistance program has worked well for farmers, and we’d like to see it continue too.”
Robson also supports Manitoba’s new regulations that protect natural wetlands as water storage for flood and drought protection. Sagan would like his province to bring in – and enforce – similar rules.
“Saskatchewan has been turning a blind eye to illegal ditching too long,” added Sagan. “Thousands of sloughs have been drained to create nice square fields that are easy to work. Now, with these big storms all that drainage adds up to worse floods downstream.”
“We need to deal with today’s emergency and Canada’s long range climate policy, but we also have some medium-term work to do,” said Regina-area farmer and NFU Board member Matt Gehl. “Years of under-funding infrastructure maintenance mean that a lot of roads, culverts, and bridges will need to be rebuilt soon, even in areas that have not experienced devastating floods. Let’s make sure that RMs can rebuild to one-in-500-year storm standards. With global CO2 level at 400 parts per million and still rising, the past is no longer a guide to the future when it comes to the water cycle.”