VSI contract for livestock producers stays status quo for 2019 after review

The M.D. of Bonnyville’s Agriculture Service Board will make no change in the VSI contract arrangement that lessens the cost for livestock producers to use vet services, said M.D. director of Agriculture and Waste, Matt Janz.

The VSI contract was renewed for another year at the M.D. council meeting last Wednesday with the recommendation to review how it’s used and whether a cap should be put on individual producers.

The M.D. will continue to pay 50 per cent of a producer’s procedure fees from a qualified veterinarian.

“The Ag Service Board looked at individual payments and they saw that the average farmer who financially benefitted was under a thousand dollars that they would receive, so there aren’t any large sums of money paid out to a farmer from this program,” said Janz.

We have well over 230 farmers in the past year use the program. Altogether, there’s about 430 producers…so the Ag Service board looked at how the money was distributed by those who did participate this past year and it was very spread out amongst everybody. There was no large payment paid out to any one producer,” he said.

The M.D.’s estimated cost for the VSI contract in 2019 is $107,000, and the province supplements 40 per cent of that money through grants.

The program is meant for meat producing animals like beef, buffalo, sheep, or goat, and has been happening for almost 15 years at different cost shares.

This is a common program for counties in the northern part of Alberta, and the M.D. is the farthest south in the province with a VSI contract.

The original intent was to retain vets and attract more to the area, which Janz believes has happened as a result. Right now there are roughly six vets in the M.D. who treat large animals.

No medications are paid through the program.

Province will review ag service grant program

The Government of Alberta is currently conducting a review of the Agricultural Service Board Grant Program focusing on its impact, effectiveness, administration, and strengthening communication.

That’s where the M.D. of Bonnyville and other counties receive grant money for programs like the VSI contract.

The first stage is complete and the next part of the review will be with Ag Service Boards meeting in February in St. Paul to discuss program updates.

Director of Agriculture and Waste, Matt Janz, said the changes likely won’t be finalized and sent out until the fall of 2019.

The last review was completed in 2005 with changes to reporting and more money coming to the municipalities.