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Heat creating problems for Alberta ag industry

Posted on July 22, 2021 by Vauxhall Advance
By Cole Parkinson
Vauxhall Advance
As the summer heat continues to shine down on Alberta with regularity, the provincial government has come out to voice its support during the heatwave.
“Alberta’s government recognizes the significant impacts that extreme dry weather has on the province’s producers. Our government is standing up for Alberta farmers and ranchers to ensure they are supported through these extreme conditions,” said Devin Dreeshen, minister of Agriculture and Forestry last week in a statement.
While plenty of the M.D. of Taber has access to irrigation from either Bow River Irrigation District, Taber Irrigation District, or St. Mary River Irrigation District, there is still plenty of dryland that has been affected. Dreeshen also pointed to the fact the federal government has stated they would be providing support through an ag program.
“With a federal election looming, Alberta received a verbal commitment from Ottawa that a joint AgriRecovery program will be initiated to support prairie producers affected by drought conditions prior to an election,” he said.
“At the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Agriculture Ministers’ meeting, the prairie provinces and Ontario raised the extreme dry conditions that are increasing costs and diminishing yields for farmers and ranchers,” added Dreeshen.
The AgriRecovery program sees a federal and provincial/territorial program aimed at providing producers with quick assistance when disasters occur that are not covered under other support programs.
“The details of an AgriRecovery program are still being developed with industry and we will work with our provincial and federal counterparts to ensure that Alberta’s farmers and ranchers are supported,” continued Dreeshen.
The first in-person meeting between the ministers is slated for Sept. 8-10, though if a federal election is called, that would likely be pushed back until later.
Looking at farmers, Dreeshen provided a quick bit of advice for producers as the summer continues.
“I have advised Alberta crop adjusters to be flexible and complete early assessments with affected crop and hay land – for example offering alternative use of crops to address forecasted feed shortages in our livestock industry,” he stated.
Dreeshen also pointed to several other supports that would help ag producers across the province.
“Alberta announced a 20 per cent reduction in insurance premiums this year. This allowed almost 400 additional farmers and ranchers to enrol in crop, pasture and forage insurance that protects against weather-related production loss,” he continued.
“Alberta also has a Water Pumping Program that provides assistance to producers for the emergency filling of dugouts for livestock. Producers can rent pipe and pumping equipment from the province to fill dugouts or other suitable catch basins from nearby water sources for their animals.”
“I want to assure producers across Alberta that we understand the severity of this prolonged period of extreme dry weather and we are doing everything we can to ensure you receive the support you need.”
The Alberta NDP also called on the UCP to allow all claims for crop loss and damage due to the heatwave be settled this year. With the Agriculture Financial Services Corporation handling the insurance for damaged crops, the NDP pointed to UCP cuts to the AFSC which eliminated 69 full-time jobs as a problem for farmers.
“I have heard from farmers across the province that they’ve already seen the impact of UCP cuts to AFSC staffing,” said NDP Agriculture Critic Heather Sweet. “Far too many claims are left waiting nearly a year for compensation. That cannot happen this year, especially not with the major destruction we are seeing.”
The NDP are also calling on the UCP to rehire all laid off AFSC staff to address the current delays and the future increase in demand on the corporation.
“I want to be clear that the expectation used to be that all claims were settled in the same year,” Sweet said.
“Last year’s massive hailstorm in June also caused significant crop damage, and I am aware of claims that were still being paid out. We need to bring back that expectation of rapid assessment and settlement and do it this year, as our agriculture producers deal with unprecedented challenges.”

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