With sky-rocketing premiums for price protection, plummeting beef prices and the closure of meatpacking plants as a result of COVID-19, beef producers are looking to government for assistance, especially with the cost of price insurance.  

The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association is looking to the federal government for assistance, including the reduction of the cost of the premium of the Western Livestock Price Insurance Program and the expansion of the program to cover the whole country.  

“When the plant closures were starting to take place, and cattle were being left on hold, the backlog accumulated rapidly and caused the value of those cattle to decline to the point of about $600 a head,” explained Reg Schellenberg, vice-president of the CCA.  

The federal and Saskatchewan governments have stepped up with some assistance as of late.  

The federal government announced a set-aside program, and Schellenberg said the organization is appreciative of the announcement. He said they are also appreciative of the announcement from the Saskatchewan government to cover 40 percent of the increased premium costs for producers.  

“We’re really pleased and grateful for the response that we got from the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture,” Schellenberg said. “They’ve taken a leadership role in addressing the needs and the asks the industry presented to them.” 

It was explained the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture came to the industry and worked on the Western Livestock Prince Insurance and the premiums. They selected a pre-COVID-19 price, and producers who enrolled after that date will have the chance to have a rebate on their premium of 40 percent of the increase. 

“It’s something that we’re glad to see, and we’re hoping that the other provinces that also participate in WL-PIP – British Columbia, Alberta and Manitoba – will come onside and join the same approach so we can go to the federal government and lobby them to come up with their 60 percent and expand this program for the entire country.” 

Written by Steven Wilson