Snowmageddon 2018: Worth Millions For Farmers/Ranchers

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Robert Thomas

Not everyone sees the recent large dump of snow as a bad thing, in fact, for area farmers and ranchers it's actually welcomed moisture.

“It's welcome because things were looking pretty bleak,” said Chad MacPherson General Manager with the Saskatchewan Stockgrowers Association. “It was shaping up to be pretty bad,” he said about the lack of snowfall this Winter, plus the dry Summer and Fall in 2017, adding “we’re in a better situation than it was on Friday.”

“The main concerns out there are to get the grass growing and water to fill the dugouts,” he said, adding that once the snow melts it will help alleviate some Spring moisture concerns.

“It helps but we still need more moisture,” MacPherson stated.

About potential damage to pastures and hay fields, from little-to-no snow this winter, he said it was “hard to speculate on the impact. We won't know until the Spring to see what grows.”

Grass can dry and has the potential to winter kill without adequate snow cover to protect it's roots from winds in Winter months.

Monetarily, the snowfall will have a major impact for many cattle producers bottom lines. MacPherson said it was difficult to give an exact dollar amount of this weekend’s snowfall but he said it would be “in the millions” for cattle producers. 

The impact will be felt by helping to flush and fill dugouts, helping get pastures off to a start, plus kick starting hay fields after a dry 2017.

Asked about farmers and ranchers, who may right now be into calving season, MacPherson called the large amount of snow “short term pain for long term gain.”

Producers calving and feeding cattle would now have to “move snow and clean out the yard” but he felt there wouldn't be many complaints.

The impact of the snowfall will be felt in how fast it melts, he said. “A slow melt means it will be absorbed into the ground. A fast melt may mean we get some runoff."  Either are needed by cattle producers.

But despite the welcome snow, more moisture is still needed in the Spring. “It is still early to tell but without a significant amount of rain, producers might be making hard business decisions, including selling, buying feed or moving herds to more favourable pasturing areas,” he said. 

Asked about the recent moves to incorporate a forage insurance program into crop insurance, he said it was something the Saskatchewan Stockgrowers Association and others have been working on for a couple of years.

“If it doesn't rain, it helps protect them…it's a good story and very welcome.”

Read about the program here

http://www.saskcropinsurance.com/ci/weather-based/forage-rainfall-insurance-program/

 

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