By Trevor Busch
In many of the dry land areas of the Little Bow riding, MLA Dave Schneider reports that crop yields have suffered due to hot, drought-like conditions throughout the summer months.
“With how dry it’s been, the yields from dry land have been nothing special. If you got underneath a shower somewhere, you were probably a little more fortunate than those of us that haven’t seen rain for two and half months. Yields are — I guess you’d say they’re all over the map, but mostly lower — and quality, heat stress on dry land grain is going to be pretty evident.”
While 2017 may prove to be forgettable year for much of the industry, Schneider wasn’t allowing this to dampen his enthusiasm.
“This is one of the more stable industries in the province. Oil and gas moves up and down, it’s still number one, but agriculture is number two and always has been. In the south of this riding where there’s irrigation, it’s the catalyst now, and short of a hail storm you’re pretty stable in what your crops should be, and should yield. That drives the cattle industry of course, because then they can depend on feed being grown and sold to them.”
Agriculture is often the industry that provides a balancing effect for the province’s economy when oil and gas revenues have taken a proverbial nose dive.
“In the south here, when the rest of the province is kind of reeling from the economy going down, this area just really kind of keeps ticking along and running smoothly,” said Schneider. “I’ve always admired agriculture for that. I’m sure everybody has their ups and downs, but that’s what makes it something that keeps everybody’s interest. There’s always lots of optimism in agriculture — a farmer has to have a little bit of optimism, he has to be an optimist, and in order to stay in the business you have to be driven. Of course, we’re always watching to make sure that government policies don’t interfere with how small business or ag can be affected in a negative way, we’ll always stand up against that sort of stuff. But agriculture it does actually just keep ticking along, and I just love it.”
Schneider is taking a wait and see approach to upcoming farm Occupational Health and Safety regulations that are set to be implemented through Bill 6.
“There’s always challenges on the irrigation front — we can always do better for the irrigation districts, and we let the government know that. There’s only so much money to go around, we understand that, but it’s always important for government to pay attention to agriculture.”
“The only thing I see in the fall session that could possibly come around are the final strokes for the Bill 6 roundtable consultations. We’ve never seen anything on the OHS side of things. We’ve seen employment standards and labour relations, but nothing on OHS, and I think agriculture in general just wants to know where this legislation is heading, and what it’s going to end up being, because it’s going to affect how they do business.”