A provincial government loan-program which has supported farmers for over eight decades is getting an increase.
The Drumheller-Stettler MLA, Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation Nate Horner, announced that the Feeder Association Loan Guarantee program will be seeing an increase in provincial government funding to $150 million, up from $100 million previously.
According to a media statement released along with Horner’s press conference, the Feeder Association Loan Guarantee Program is designed to help farmers secure “competitive financing” so that they can grow their herds of cattle and sheep.
“Feeder associations are essential to the province’s agriculture industry and our rural economy,” said Horner.
“We are increasing the feeder association loan guarantee to make sure Alberta’s livestock producers have access to capital they need to make it through the busy fall and winter. With cattle prices up 25 per cent, this increase will allow Alberta’s feeder associations greater access to low-interest capital loans.”
According to Horner, the funding increase is due to the price of cattle increasing significantly over the last decade and less about the increase in demand.
“Demand has always been steady,” said Horner.
Horner noted that with the increasing prices, the $100 million was buying less and fewer people were able to take advantage of the fully-subscribed program.
“The increase in the loan guarantee will help ensure sustainable growth in Alberta’s livestock feeding sector, giving our members better access to feeder cattle financing,” said Phillip Lammerding, chair of the Feeder Association of Alberta, in a prepared statement sent with the media release.
“This change improves the future for Alberta’s cattle feeders, and makes our industry more viable and accessible for new entrants and young farmers.”
The loan guarantee program began in 1936 and has provided around $11 billion in funding to Alberta livestock feeders in the ensuing years.
There are 45 local feeder associations and 2,000 livestock producers who are members of the associations spread across the province, and the program typically supports around a quarter of the calf-crop each year.
“This partnership between government and the local feeder co-ops is one of the most successful and longest running programs in Alberta,” said Reg Schmidt, director of Zone 3, Feeder Association of Alberta.
“This has helped the long-term sustainability in our industry.”