Rhino's Ramblings - The Next Ten Days

For those of you who have not already noticed the weather has been hot, a little bit breezy and above all extremely dry over the last few weeks and it is starting to have its toll on at least the economic mood amongst rural folk and it has also started to spread to city folk as well.

Dust from the back of combines harvesting wheat in northwestern Saskatchewan 2018

Dust from the back of combines harvesting wheat in northwestern Saskatchewan 2018

Hot time Summer in the City back of my neck getting dirty and gritty may have been a hit way back in the Sixties but it is none too popular right now amongst many local people as the drought is deepening and as each day goes by so does the economic potential in the fields continue to plummet.

Whether we want to believe it or not three years of hot and dry conditions is slowly sucking the life blood out of many people’s minds.

And to put it to blunty there is a desperate need for rain. The next 10 days are highly critical in the overall success and development of the Crop of 2019. If the heat persists and there is not a good shot of precipitation it could well mean little or no crop this year through wide sections of Saskatchewan.

Although there are far fewer farmers than a couple of generations back it is still putting the pinch on not only the mood out on the farm but it is now affecting the city.

“What we really need is a good three day rain to get people loosening the purse strings and spending money. Right now people are really cautious,” an area famer told me.

This is the reality out in farming country. The lack of the most important crop nutrient - water - is starting to have an effect on the minds of those directly involved in farming.

The last couple of dry years is now showing itself in many ways in the things city folk like to do. Things such as fire pits, outdoor fireplaces and briquet barbecues are highly verboten in the City of Moose Jaw as the fire department does not want a spark to burn half the city down.

The fire bans extend into rural areas including Buffalo Pound Provincial Park.

The only good thing about this year when it comes to the drought is that it is a federal election year and the Trudeau Government may want to do the just thing for Saskatchewan, the Prairies and The West by instituting some sort of disaster relief payment if the drought persists and there is a crop failure.

I remember covering another drought 30 years ago just as a federal election loomed and Brian Mulroney was out seeking re-election and his then Progressive Conservative Government announced disaster relief to the thankfulness of many in Saskatchewan. It was likely responsible for the subsequent sweeping of Mulroney back into power by more than a chin as you could say.

This time around there are some great similarities with the major drought of 1988.

In 1988 by mid-June there was already the realization there was a major drought out there and it was not just the rural people were aware of it but also amongst the provincial government as well. This time around it is no different.

This past February when the Saskatchewan Water Security Agency issued their predictions about little if any Spring run-off they also issued the warning farmers in the areas with little or no soil moisture reserves should consider seeking alternative locations to graze their livestock. In layman’s terms - get ready for the worse case scenario.

Some areas of Saskatchewan had too much grain for available storage in 2018 this year the same areas need rain

Some areas of Saskatchewan had too much grain for available storage in 2018 this year the same areas need rain

The Province, or rather a major Crown corporation which tracks soil moisture conditions, was giving out the warnings in February there was a distinct potential of little grass and potentially hay crop due to the dry weather conditions. Make plans to move your livestock to greener pastures.

But back in 1988 there was some unique differences to this time around.

First off is back in the drought of 1988 there were a lot more farmers and ranchers than we have now and because of this there ws a very strong voice advocating for the Federal government to help farmers and ranchers out with a per acre payment.

It was the time of Grant Devine who had let us say a fairly good line with Prime Minister Mulroney but in today’s world with Premier Scott Moe and the present Prime Minister Trudeau the close connection so critical to getting drought relief moving just isn’t there. In fact at the present time the two governments are far too busy doing legal battle about the federal imposition of the Carbon Tax.

The unison between Mulroney and Devine helped to seal the deal with the anouncement about cash payments flowing to farmers a few weeks before the 1988 federal election. Money from Ottawa replaced rain in let us face it what is truly a real hotbed of Progressive Conservative support.

Now fast forward to 2019 and what is rapidly shaping up into some major problems when it comes to the drought which is impacting ranchers and farmers hard. This time though there is no talk from Ottawa it seems about the potential looming economic clubbing a continued drought will have on Saskatchewan’s bottom line. And it is getting me at least wondering if all the claims are true the son of a former Prime Minister - who literally gave the West the finger - does not give a damn about Saskatchewan.

That is unless it means helping out areas which have the greatest potential for the Liberals re-election - namely Ontario and Quebec - and in turn forgetting us souls out here normally hiding in four foot high wheat.

Will or rather does Saskatchewan’s voice count over in Trudeauland?

If we do not receive some much needed precipitation in the next 10 to 14 days we might know come mid to late September what the present federal government thinks about rural folk in Saskatchewan. If the federal government fails to think about some type of disaster payment if the drought does not suddenly break in the minds of many they will know what the present establishment in Ottawa thinks about us. It is just that damn simple.

With such a quiet attitude taken so far it leaves me thinking there may not be too much of an effort to even get a disaster relief payment program up and running in so little time before this coming October’s federal general election. Somewhere in government offices in Regina and Ottawa there has to be more than a few poilticians hoping and praying for rain. A sigh of relief delivered by Mother Nature.

Although it was over 30 years ago I can still remember the drought which had Prime Minister Brian Mulroney actually campaiging in the smaller communities in Saskatchewan on a platform to not worry there is help on the way.

This time around the news cycle is not favouring rural Saskatchewan and its agricultural economy we are focused on other issues and it is noticeable in the response we are so far hearing from politicians from whatever level and stripe.

Here is hoping we have a good general three or four day soaker of a rain in the next 10 days because in many ways there seems to be a better chance of that than the politicians tuning into what is everyday growing more worrisome to so many. That is sad, really, really sad.

moose jaw