04/09/2014 01:44 EDT | Updated 06/09/2014 05:59 EDT

Livestock insurance rolls out for Western Canada cattle and hog producers

REGINA - Cattle and hog producers in the western provinces can now apply for help to deal with unexpected price drops such as those that were seen during the BSE crisis.

Applications are being accepted for the Western Livestock Price Insurance Program first announced in January.

The program, which has been operating in Alberta since 2009, lets producers in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, ensure a price for their animals by buying insurance.

Producers will have options for how they want to insure their calves, feeders or fed cattle and for the length of time they want the animals covered.

Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart says producers have been watching how the program works in Alberta and been asking for it.

Stewart says prices are at a record high and it's an ideal time for producers to be interested in price insurance.

"I hope uptake will be fairly strong, but we expect it will grow over the next few years as producers become more familiar and comfortable with the program," he said Wednesday at a news conference in Regina.

Paula Larson, chairwoman of the Saskatchewan Cattleman's Association, says the program is positive for producers, especially for those entering the industry.

"I would encourage a young producer probably to have a look at it. If he's getting into it with today's prices, he might want a little backup in the fall and to have that backstop on his prices if something changes," said Larson.