In 40 years of ranching, David Flundra has never experienced a drought like the one now affecting Saskatchewan livestock producers. He said heat and lack of moisture had taken a huge toll on agriculture.
“I’ve never seen a drought this long,” he said.
Flundra, who has 300 mother cows 25 kilometres west of Jamieson’s ranch, says he is one of the fortunate ones: he won’t be going out of business under a mountain of debt. Unfortunately, he feared this won’t be the case for everyone.
While the provincial government’s announcement of funding relief was welcome – along with the prospect of federal money – it would not resolve all the problems facing producers. In a question-and-answer session after agriculture minister David Marit’s funding announcement, Flundra said $100 per head “is really nice”, but had to be seen in the context of hay trading in excess of $250 a ton.
“A lot of us are going to end up feeding six or seven months this year because of the dryness,” he said.
If the federal government came up with its funding installment, said Flundra, that would amount to $200 per head for breeding stock.
He reckoned it would probably cost much more than that for each cow.
Flundra, who founded Cattle Creek Ranching in 2002 with his wife, Ladi, and employs two people, told the News-Times said sourcing feed was a huge challenge facing ranchers.
“I spend a lot of time on the phone trying to find hay to feed my cows,” he said.
Like many ranchers, Flundra and his wife have a second business: Stockboss, which provides water for livestock.
Despite the hardships, he maintains that ranching is still a terrific way to live.
“It’s great to be in a rural setting,” he said.
“You learn all about life, which includes the hardships.”