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Manitoba man warns local farmers buying out of province hay

As hay continues to be brought in from out of province, farmers are being warned about the possible repercussions. Since being hit with a drought, producers in Alberta have been struggling to feed their livestock.

As hay continues to be brought in from out of province, farmers are being warned about the possible repercussions.

Since being hit with a drought, producers in Alberta have been struggling to feed their livestock. As a result hay from Manitoba has been shipped in to try and alleviate the hardships. However, the help could end up doing more harm than good in the long run.

“When I drive down roads in Manitoba and see the hay that's being baled up and it's and unusual situation, mile of highway ditch hay has been baled this year. I know that hay's going to Alberta,” said John Johnson, a former wheat supervisor from Oak Lake, MB.

Johnson added, “Those road sides have a number of invasive and noxious weeds growing in them. I just want to send a note out to advise farmers in Alberta to be aware if you're buying hay to do some checking.”

After seeing what was happening, Johnson sent a letter to agricultural fieldmen in Alberta asking them to warn their local producers. He explained that hay in the ditches in Manitoba is being baled and sent out here for farmers to buy. Included in that hay is a variety of weeds present in Manitoba including leafy spurge, bladder campion, common tansy, scentless chamomile and possibly Red Bartsia.

“Manitoba has huge weed problems. These weed bales are going to contain seeds and are being sold to our Alberta cattle producers who are in dire need of hay. We're going to be stuck with all of these weeds coming up in Alberta,” said Janice Boden, agricultural fieldman with the MD of Bonnyville.

Producers who purchase hay from out-of-province without checking it run the risk of brining in invasive weeds not currently present in the province. Boden explained that bales from ditches will bring in noxious species that Alberta is not prepared for, causing the weed to flourish.

“I don't have any doubt that it may effect Alberta in years to come,” said Boden.

When asked why he took the time to warn farmers out here, Johnson said that he believes it's unethical for Manitobans to be selling this hay to Alberta. He has a hunch about why they're doing it, though.

“The highway ditch hay is free. If you bale it then it's yours and I've heard they're making up to $175 per tonne, so if they can get if for free by cutting it out of the ditch it's quite profitable.”

Johnson added, “I'd hate to see someone by that hay and then end up with a huge weed issues in two or three years. That's going to cost a large amount of money, energy and time to try and rectify the problem after it's established out there.”

The issues with hay from Manitoba ditches goes beyond the weeds. The chemical that are being sprayed on that hay is also cause for concern. While Alberta uses the same herbicides, Boden explained that there is a set number of days before cattle can eat hay that's been sprayed and they have no way of telling how if or when the spraying in Manitoba hay happened.

“They could be sprayed, they could not be. We could be brining in these chemicals that are going to harm our cattle.”

If farmers need to buy hay that has been shipped in, Boden noted that there are simple measures to take to prevent the spreading of foreign weeds.

“Be checking the hay, checking it for weed seeds, and possibly even getting it tested for any kinds of chemical residue.”

While not all hay from Manitoba is bad, Johnson said if his warning helps even one farmer from contracting weeds, it'll be worth it.

“There are a lot of good hay people in Manitoba selling good quality products, but beware of where you're buying it from because there is a lot of junk being baled up.”




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