Prairie farmers frustrated as flooding drowns crops
Emily Chan, CTVNews.ca Staff
Published Saturday, July 12, 2014 10:04PM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, July 13, 2014 7:52AM EDT
Midway through the growing season and summer floods have drowned out millions of acres of crops across the Canadian prairies, robbing farmers of their livelihoods.
In Saskatchewan, it’s estimated that a total of up to 3 million acres, including some farmland, have already flooded. Officials in Manitoba also estimate that millions of acres overall have been ravaged by flooding there.
Beyond the damage to bridges and other infrastructure, farmers’ fields have been hit particularly hard, washing away a season’s worth of crops.
“That’s your income. So if your income drops by at least 20 per cent, that’s going to hurt,” farmer Kevin Elmy told CTV News.
In Manitoba, the government has set up a help line for rural residents struggling with flooding. And they’ve begun estimating how much money it will take to rebuild what’s been washed away.
Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger said Friday, that the cost of repairing flood damage is expected to be at least $200 million.
Farmers say it’s uncertain how much of that money will go towards compensation for their loss of income. They’ve been told that the government will lend assistance, but the logistics are unclear.
“There’s really nothing we can do about it. Mother Nature has her plans and you just go with it,” farmer Bill Prybylski said. “It’s really frustrating.”
In the areas surrounding Portage La Prairie, Man., farmers are also expressing frustration. It’s only been three years since the last time they faced flooding, but a nearby channel makes them especially prone to overflowing. The channel is designed to divert water away from the cities and towards a lake, but their crops are hit when it overflows.
“From past experience, we knew that water wouldn’t go to Winnipeg, (the channel) would dump it on us,” Kevin Yuill said. “If they’re going to use the diversion, fix it properly so we don’t get hammered every time.”
The timing of this year’s floods make them particularly devastating. In 2011, the last time Yuill faced flooding, he said that he had only planted a fraction of his seeds. This year, Yuill had already planted most of his seeds, meaning the damage will be even more extensive than last time.
“It’s a pretty nice looking corn crop,” he said. “But in a week’s time, it will all be dead.”