Red deer breeders at the end of their reserves

The eradication of the largest herd of red deer in Quebec due to chronic wasting disease (CWD) in deer is pushing other breeders to the brink of financial abyss. “I’m in the red, testifies Richard Lemay. My buyer gave me half price. So I keep my animals, but I have to feed them all winter and get hay. This results in losses of approximately $50,000. »

The situation of this owner of 500 head in Saint-André-d’Argenteuil, in the Laurentians, is not unique. The president of the Association cerfs rouges du Québec, Gaétan Lehoux, mentions that several breeders are in a very critical position. “Our hay supply is almost exhausted and we don’t have the money to buy it anymore. If nothing is done by the government, many of us will not make it,” he says. Your own company is leaning against the wall. “Red deer breeding is my job. If I sell off the animals at a fraction of the price, how do I make a living and that of my family? asks Mr. Lehoux, which has 550 heads.

In Saint-Jean-de-Brébeuf, in Chaudière-Appalaches, Mario Giguère has seen his farm’s sales drop dramatically due to customers’ sudden distrust of venison, even though his creation has not been quarantined.
Credit: Courtesy of Mario Giguere

a chain reaction

To see clearly, the Quebec Ministry of Agriculture and the crisis management committee sent an outside company to document the plight of the nine breeders directly affected by the discovery of CWD on Quebec’s largest red deer breeding farm.

In its report filed on 30 January, of which Earth obtained a copy, GSP Conseil indicates that the compulsory slaughter of around 3,000 animals generated surpluses among other breeders and a chain reaction: falling market prices, rising feed costs, lack of space in the enclosure and increased management time. from the farm . Farmers surveyed also anticipate downgrading of animals kept too long on the farm and a problem with the supply of quality sires. The general situation of the companies is considered fragile, even precarious, while two of them said they were in closing mode.

Urgent request

To deal with the crisis, producers are urging Quebec to intervene quickly to inject money and remove animals ready for slaughter from enclosures. They estimate your needs at a few hundred thousand dollars.

Recall that in January, the provincial government ordered La Financière agricole du Québec to create a special program with a $1 million envelope. The organization told Earth that the aid intended for red deer breeders be detailed in the week of February 25th.

Quarantine

A dozen cattle ranches that purchased animals from the contaminated farm are still in quarantine at the request of the Quebec government. Jean-François Théroux is one of those affected by this measure. He must apply strict sanitary standards. “If I want to do snow removal with the tractor that has been close to the animals, I have to disinfect it. Washing a tractor in winter, in the open air, is not feasible, so it is doomed”, explains the creator of Lanoraie, in Lanaudière. He points out that all the media coverage around the disease is scaring consumers, who have reduced purchases at the stall on his farm, although no trace of the disease has been found in his home.

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