MD Council has declared a Local State of Agricultural Disaster in response to prolonged drought conditions that have resulted in significant reductions to crop yields and quality and scarce sources of livestock feed throughout the region. Record-breaking heat and drought conditions across the region have severely impacted cereal and oilseed crops and livestock feed.
Producers require seasonal rainfall to keep crops, pastures and hay land healthy. However, the 2021 growing season was hindered by an unrepentant heat wave and prolonged lack of precipitation throughout the spring and summer months. Consequently, there is little to no hay, silage, green feed or pasture for the cow/calf sector. Producers have begun thinning generational herds during what is typically considered the height of grazing season.
“By mid-summer we were bracing ourselves for a hard landing,” shared MD Reeve Murray Kerik. “Presently, with nothing to feed our livestock, and with paltry yields for cereal and oilseed crops, it is apparent that we have not landed; we’ve crashed.”
The MD joins a growing list of rural municipalities across Western Canada in declaring a State of Agricultural Disaster to heighten public awareness of the critical conditions of fields, pastures, and livestock feed; and to advocate for supports at the provincial level such as tax incentives, payment deferrals, and related measures.
“We look forward to working with our provincial partners in the coming weeks to leverage available supports for our struggling producers,” continued Reeve Kerik. “I am hopeful that, through our ongoing awareness and advocacy efforts, we can address this critical issue with backing from other levels of government.”
One of the key producer supports on the horizon is the joint AgriRecovery program. Recently activated by Alberta’s Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Devin Dreeshen, this program provides funding to help offset the cost of uninsurable added expenses, like temporary fencing around fields so cattle can graze on crops that are not worth harvesting. Since activation of the program, the federal government has committed $500 million to cover its 60% share of federal/provincial AgriRecovery support plans for drought-hit farmers across Western Canada. The federal and provincial governments have pledged to continue to work with the utmost urgency to complete joint assessments of the disaster and launch support programs including direct support for affected livestock and agricultural producers, and assistance with increased costs of obtaining livestock feed, transportation, and water.
“Alberta’s hardworking farmers and ranchers have been hit with dry conditions that threaten their livelihoods. We will do everything we can to help Alberta’s agriculture industry make the best of a terrible situation," expressed Minister Dreeshen.