Some cattle producers have faced flood damage for the last 11 years and the stress and frustration are mounting
Scott Campbell’s cattle operation near Meadow Lake, Sask., should be all green pasture this time of year.
Instead, a dike is the only visible land. Pasture, once destined to feed his cattle, is under water.
The Beaver River started to flood June 9 and has covered pastures at the ranch, which Campbell farms with his brother, Mark. Now, Campbell needs financial support to keep the operation going.
A July 2 meeting at Northern Livestock Sales in Meadow Lake attracted about 60 people to discuss the floods and possible responses.
Five rural municipalities have been directly affected: Beaver River, Meadow Lake, Parkdale, Loon Lake, and Big River.
Representatives from the Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association (SCA), Ducks Unlimited, the Provincial Disaster Assistance Program, and the federal and provincial governments made appearances.
Some ranchers speaking at a public microphone set up at the meeting teared up because of stress and frustration.
Kathy Sergent and her husband, Richard, have dealt with flooding for the past 11 years and their operation never completely recovers from each one. The damage gets progressively worse after every flood, she said.
“We haven’t seen profitable years for a long time. Years ago, we fenced all our land, probably 15 to 20 miles of fence. That’s all gone.”
Don Campbell has farmed the same land as his son for 46 years and his operation survived three major floods before. This year’s flood is by the far the worst, he said
For Scott Campbell, it will be weeks before the water recedes and he can count his losses. They were in the middle of calving when it started, he said. So far, he said he is seeing a lot of cows when he checks his cattle but not a lot of calves.
For Perry Brooks, his 100-year-old, 170-head operation on the northside of the Beaver River will persevere, but it is becoming more financially stressful. What he was hoping to bale for winter feed is now what his cattle are living on.
It’s going to be a tough year for everybody and he hopes everyone receives compensation. But people must speak up, he said.
Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River MP Gary Vidal and SCA chair Arnold Balicki offer a direct line to government and both attended the meeting.
Balicki said the SCA intends to raise the issues with Saskatchewan agriculture minister David Marit to see what can be done to speed application processes, address financial concerns, and what the provincial government will cover through the disaster relief program.
Thousands of acres of wild pasture are underwater. Those are not acres that can be insured through the forage insurance program, said Balicki.
He said he hopes the SCA can lobby the provincial government to get relief for ranchers.
“The losses are going to be huge and I don’t think (ranchers) can absorb those losses on their own.”
The meeting was organized by Brent Brooks, owner of Northern Livestock Sales.