The government of Alberta is launching a program to support farmers and ranchers.
Premier Jason Kenney made the announcement during the provincial government’s daily news conference Thursday afternoon.
The program, Fed Cattle Set-Aside, will allow producers to hold on to cattle on a maintenance feed ratio for up to nine weeks, helping the supply of cattle to more evenly match demand, said Kenney.
“It is vitally important to both the Albertan and Canadian economies to protect this industry from the impact of the (COVID-19) crisis,” Kenney said, adding 400,000 cattle are currently backed up in feedlots.
Producers will be compensated “for extraordinary costs” related to market-ready cattle being held back right now, Kenney said.
Alberta will contribute up to $17 million through the Agri-Recovery program, which is a joint venture between the federal government and the provinces. An automatic 60-40 funding split is enacted when a disaster hits the agriculture sector.
“The specific amount needs to be negotiated with the federal government, but we estimate the total cost of this set-aside program will be in the range of $42 million,” said Kenney.
The livestock industry has been affected by the impaired operations of meat-packing and food-processing plants across the country, he added.
The government confirmed 54 new COVID-19 cases in the province Thursday, bringing the provincial total to 6,017 – 3,809 of which have recovered.
Red Deer County has two new confirmed cases, bringing the total to four active and 11 recovered. The city of Red Deer still has four active and 32 recovered cases.
Two more deaths were confirmed by the government as well – the total death toll is now 114. These two new deaths were not located within the central zone.
Many other central Alberta communities have seen no change in COVID-19 statistics when compared to Wednesday.
The City of Lacombe has two recovered cases and Lacombe County has three recovered cases. Ponoka County has two recovered cases, Clearwater County has one active and two recovered cases and Stettler County has three recovered cases.