Earlier this week, finance minister Donna Harpauer said the drought and historic crop insurance payments pushed the expected deficit from $2.6 billion to $2.7 billion.
"The most significant increase over budget at mid-year is in agriculture expense, which is up $2.1 billion," said the mid-year report. "This includes $1.8 billion for crop insurance claims, bringing the total indemnity forecast to $2.4 billion, and $292.5 million in relief for livestock producers hit with higher costs due to the widespread drought that impacted Saskatchewan."
She told reporters that without the drought, the government would have seen a much lower deficit.
But APAS said in a Dec. 1 press release that the government shouldn't blame farmers for the deficit, considering they pay premiums to participate in the business risk management program and there is a surplus in the crop insurance fund.
Vice-president Ian Boxall said in an interview he didn't like the government's messaging, noting the government borrows from the crop insurance fund when claims aren't made but throws farmers under the bus when they need help by suggesting they are to blame for worsening government finances.
Harpauer said there is still $1.3 billion in that fund and she called the APAS news release an "attack" on the government.
She and agriculture minister David Marit sent a letter to APAS saying the news release was "offensive" and that it suggested the government couldn't pay out claims.
"In the future, we hope APAS will remember that our government has been steadfast in its commitment to our agricultural producers, and that APAS doesn't take that support for granted the next time it considers making such a reckless statement," the letter said.
Opposition agriculture critic Trent Wotherspoon said the letter was threatening, condescending and "unhinged."
More to follow.