Farm in New Brunswick
Canada is a stronger country when Canadians work together, wouldn't you agree? The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA-FCA) seems to think so, announcing its plans to send extra hay from farmers on the East Coast to those in the West who are seeing a substantial drop in harvest yields due to prolonged drought conditions.
The 'Hay West' initiative is not the first time the CFA-FCA – Canada's largest general farm organization representing 200,000 farmers and farm families – has drawn up plans designed to have farmers across the country help each other in times of need.
A similar initiative was first used in 2002 that saw mass amounts of hay shipped from Ontario to the Western provinces. A decade later, the initiative was reversed to supply hay to eastern Canadian farmers who were experiencing similar drought conditions being seen today in Western Canada.
Tim Marsh, President of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture, was busy on his farm baling hay for the cause this past Tuesday.
"If the weather holds and I could harvest all that I think I've got, it could be 500 or even 1,000 round bales that could go," said Marsh.
"At the end of the day, we're all farmers, and we're all in this industry together. If there's an opportunity to help each other out, then we need to take it."
Tim says he is just one of many farmers on the East Coast looking to help their counterparts out West.
"We'll do what we can," he told Canada Express News on Friday. "I mean, that's the feeling I get from some producers."
Bill Campbell, a long-time farmer in Manitoba who is currently experiencing hay shortages first-hand, appreciates the kind offer.
"We recognize that there are producers in parts of Manitoba who have to sell their cattle because they have no food and lack of water," said Campbell, president of Keystone Agriculture Producers.
"So there are desperate situations and [people] having to make some very, very difficult decisions… I hope this initiative will be beneficial for some people."
British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and parts of Western Ontario have all been experiencing drought conditions over the past few months which has left many farmers high and dry and short on options to feed their livestock.
Mary Robinson, President of the CFA-FCA, says her organization is working hard to help out those farmers across the West, like Bill, who are in dire need of support.
"We have our staff as well as a third-party working towards determining how much of a hay surplus is available, and are looking to work with the railways and the government to help these farmers that are in dire need of feed for their animals. We believe this initiative will help ease some of the stress that western farmers are dealing with," Robinson said.
While the cause may not alleviate the concerns of supply shortages for Western farmers entirely, "Hay West" is a good start, and has proven itself very helpful in the past for drought-stricken regions across the country.
Canadians Supporting Canadians for a More Prosperous Future
The "Hay West" initiative is an excellent example of what Canada can accomplish when Canadians across the country work together towards a common cause. The initiative also serves as a template for how Canadians can and should work towards a more prosperous future by supporting our agriculture, forestry, mining, oil and gas and other resource-based industries not just in times of need, but always.
As a major global exporter of agricultural, forestry, mining and energy products, Canadians have everything to gain by taking a common approach to maximizing the revenues generated by our job-creating, wealth-generating resource sectors.
Canada's most recent "Hay West" initiative should serve as a reminder of the benefits we have to gain when our natural resource sectors are strong, and how they can contribute to the well-being of other parts of the country when times are tough. Whether through fiscal transfer payments from resource-rich provinces to Ottawa, or rather a steady supply of hay barrels being shipped from one part of the country to another, it all benefits Canadian families.
Hats off to all the East Coast farmers like Mr. Marsh who are selflessly supporting their counterparts in the West during this time of need. If history is any indication of the future, Canada's Western farmers will return the favour to their counterparts across the country in due time!
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