On the other hand, farmer Stuart Melnychuk said a grain and livestock farm in Arburg sells all but twenty animals in nearly 250 cows. The farm has been in his family since 1909.
Mr Melnychuk has been using some of his grain, which could have been sold, to help feed the cows during the past few years of dry temperatures. “It’s not that you can go to the neighbor and buy feed for these cows,” said Mr Melnychuk. “There is no fodder to be found here,” he said, adding, “It gets to the point where you can’t get yourself out of a hole you are going to dig.”
Mr. Melnychuk believes he is one of the few who have sold their animals to farmers in other provinces – and he’s headed to a farm in Ontario – rather than sending them directly to a butcher.
“We’ve seen a lot of cows hitting the meat market which are usually grazing farmers’ fields, and farmers are having to make tough decisions,” said Kirk Keesman, general manager at Ashern Auction Mart, a livestock auction house in the area. . “No one wants to see their genetic potential turned into meat.”
The harsh economics of supply and demand mean that farmers who choose to sell their animals — whether to a butcher or another farmer — face a huge influx of cows, and thus lower prices, said Reynolds Bergen, director of science at Beef Cattle. Research Council.
Agriculture is not the most lucrative field to begin with. General farm workers in Interlake can earn up to C$50,000 a year, according to government wage data, with more than 40 percent of Canadian farmers supplementing their incomes by working off-farm.
said Joe Bouchard, who runs the 400-headed cow operation at the Fisher branch. “This has been by far the toughest year we’ve ever had.”