Atlantic farmers' surplus hay heading to drought-stricken Prairies

·2 min read
Farmers on P.E.I. are being asked to check their hay supplies and see if there's some to send to Western Canada. (Brian Higgins/CBC - image credit)
Farmers on P.E.I. are being asked to check their hay supplies and see if there's some to send to Western Canada. (Brian Higgins/CBC - image credit)

By this time next week some Island hay will be on its way west, and the Canadian Federation of Agriculture says farmers in Western Canada are purchasing hay at market prices to have the transportation costs offset.

This is all because of an initiative called Hay West, that will see surplus hay from farmers in Eastern Canada sent west where dire hay and feed shortages loom.

"We discussed what we should be doing and decided that the P.E.I. federation would put a survey out to its members tasking them to identify what surplus they have," Canadian Federation of Agriculture president Mary Robinson told Island Morning host Mitch Cormier.

"We want to make sure that we get as many large square bales as possible."

Drought conditions and hot weather from Manitoba to British Columbia have left pastures and hay crops parched and dugouts for water for cattle dried up. What has grown has been decimated by grasshoppers in parts of Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

There are additional fears the conditions this summer are an early indication of how climate change could affect the livelihood and future of agriculture in the country.

Colin Butler/CBC News
Colin Butler/CBC News

Farmers on P.E.I. are being asked to check their hay supplies and see if there's extra to send to Western Canada.

Robinson said moving hay is only part of the solution to protect farmers across the country, and that governments should continue investing more to fight climate change.

"We know that there's no certainty with the weather," she said. "We are facing these incredible, difficult circumstances head-on, there is no industry that faces it more than agriculture. So it can be hard for farmers to invest further in sustainability because climate change is greatly impacting our financial situation."

P.E.I.'s hay inventory replenishing

As for how much surplus hay P.E.I. has, Robinson said she spoke with P.E.I. Agriculture Minister Bloyce Thompson as well as P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture President Ron Maynard.

From those conversations, she gathers that there is surplus hay on the Island that can be sent west.

"I think people have managed to replenish from the drought that we faced last year. They have enough hay, some people, for two years," she said.

Robinson also said if there are local businesses that want to make monetary donations, all the money will go into a fund dedicated to offset the transportation costs of those bales of hay going west.

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