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WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - The federal and provincial governments announced on Thursday a C$448-million ($457 million) aid package for farmers, many of whom could not plant crops or find pasture for cattle due to severe flooding.
An estimated 13 million to 14 million acres were left unplanted or were washed out due to flooding, Canadian Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said in a press conference at a Saskatchewan farm, leaving about one-fifth of the Canadian Prairies' farmland fallow.
"It's a combination of unseeded and flooded (acres)," he said. "It kept raining here for weeks after the initial flood hit, so those (lost) acres kept expanding."
Some pastures for cattle were so flooded they will take years to restore, Ritz said.
A series of spring rainstorms, cool temperatures and saturated soil conditions caused rivers to flood, especially in southeastern Saskatchewan and southwestern Manitoba.
It was the second straight year for major flooding on the Canadian Prairies, which produces most of Canada's wheat, canola and cattle.
Canada is the top shipper of spring wheat, canola and oats, and the third-biggest beef exporter.
Reporting by Rod Nickel; editing by Sofina Mirza-Reid