Maritime farmers say they need some steady rain
Nowhere is rain more urgently needed than on farmer's fields all over the Maritimes. Dairy farmers in particular are starting to experience shortages of feed, and at the same time, a significant drop in milk production.
You can see the impact of the drought at Blair Wanamaker's farm near Hampton, N.B., where a bit of hay – and a lot of dust – is being raked up.
“It's extremely dry,” Wanamaker said. “The crops are down. It’s a major concern if we're going to have enough feed for the winter.”
With hay fields failing, a lot of farmers are trying to buy shipments of hay, though that's easier said than done.
“Where can you find it?” said Wanamaker. “I know last winter they were hauling it from Shediac and Nova Scotia. You put the trucking on it and the trucking is more than the bale is worth.”
With New Brunswick and P.E.I. farms suffering from the effects of prolonged heat, the Nova Scotia milk marketing board said Tuesday that Nova Scotia farmers are trying to organize shipments of feed to other parts of the Maritimes.
But the market price is skyrocketing.
“One of my directors told me today that bales in Quebec are selling for about 90 bucks apiece. And that is very expensive. Probably double the normal price,” said Paul Gaunce, the chairman of the Dairy Farmers of New Brunswick.
Gaunce describes this month as one of the hottest on record.
He says this heat wave is a double whammy for the dairy industry. Not only are farmers paying more for hay, milk production, and therefore revenue, is falling off.
“Our cows hate the heat,” Gaunce said. “Our production is dropping big time this month.”
Plan B for some farmers may not be buying hay. A more difficult decision may be necessary.
“It might be plan B, but not too many people can afford plan B,” said dairy farmer Bill Moore. “Plan B might be get rid of your cows; downsize if you don't have the forage.”
This is the second year in a row that farmers are coping with drought-like conditions. Some say it could be a long-term trend for weather in the region.
“It’s been dry before, but I think overall, it is getting drier,” Moore said. “This may be the new way things are going to be.”
There have been a few showers, but farmers what’s needed in the Sussex area of New Brunswick, and elsewhere in the Maritimes, are a few days of steady rain -- and that doesn't appear to be in the forecast.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Mike Cameron.