by Morinville News Staff

Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) and Crop Production Services (CPS) are offering a forage program that may be the solution for farmers affected by last year’s drought conditions.

The program is available to agricultural producers in the three Prairie provinces, and DUC/CPS say the program offsets the cost of Proven Seed forage varieties when producers convert cultivated land to hay or pasture land.

Producers in Alberta and Saskatchewan receive a $100 rebate per 50-pound bag of forage seed.

Craig Bishop, DUC’s regional forage lead said despite recent economic and climatic conditions, response to this year’s forage program has been positive.

“Declining prices for wheat and other cereal crops, as well as a simultaneous increase in beef prices, are leading many landowners to seriously consider the move to increase their cattle herd,” Bishop said in a Jan. 26 release. “This, in turn, spurs a demand for increased forage.”

Bishop went on to say last year’s drought resulted in many poor hay crops in several areas, further motivating producers to convert additional land to forages.

“That year, we saw 25,000 acres of cultivated fields across the Prairies be put into grass with this program with CPS—a significant increase from previous years,” he said. “Offering an incentive to producers to convert their cultivation to forage is an extremely cost-effective means for increasing grassland and makes good agronomic sense. Essentially, the program covers approximately 40 to 50 per cent of the producer’s seed investment.”

But there is more to the program than helping farmers during tough times. DUC/CPS say more seeded forage acres benefit waterfowl. Nesting and success are higher in areas of perennial cover or grasslands than in cultivated fields. It also helps with other conservation measures such as critical wetland restoration efforts.

“The link between wetlands, associated grasslands and waterfowl productivity is well understood,” Bishop said, “[I]nitiatives like the DUC/CPS forage program ensures that farmers in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba also receive the benefit from increasing their forage base.”

The DUC/CPS forage program is best suited for producers in the parkland and prairie regions. For more information on the program contact a local CPS retailer or DUC conservation program specialist.

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