County of Stettler declares agricultural disaster

By rdnewsNOW staff
October 12, 2018 - 9:50am

Dry conditions this spring and excessive snow in September and October have led to the County of Stettler declaring an Agricultural Disaster.

The declaration made during the County’s regular council meeting on Wednesday came following an October 2 crop reporting survey from Alberta Agriculture and Forestry/Agriculture Financial Services Corporation that only 43 per cent of crops in the central Alberta region have been combined.

According to county officials, the five-year average at this time in the same area is 79 per cent.

“As we sit here today, many farmer’s crops remain on the field because of unseasonable weather conditions,” says Larry Clarke, Reeve for the County of Stettler, in a press release. “The snow and moisture have made it difficult to get into the fields. Certain crops will diminish in value as these crops remain in the fields.”

The County of Stettler’s Agricultural Services Board disagreed earlier in September, with a list of Prescribed Regions identified to qualify for the 2018 Livestock Tax Deferral Program with Alberta Agriculture, which indicated Stettler County did not make the cut as a drought or flood affected region.

However, according to officials, statistics indicate Stettler County has received low to average precipitation, but as of September 6 when the map was released, had not received any moisture.

Cattle producers who rely on grazing land after crops come off are also affected by these conditions.

“The County has received requests this year to graze livestock in our ditches and we have allowed this wherever possible,” added Chief Administrative Officer, Yvette Cassidy.  “In fact, we passed a Ditch Grazing Policy at our October 10 Council Meeting in order to deal with this issue in the safest and most practical way. Hopefully we won’t need it another year.”

County officials further point out that hay is currently selling for 11 cents per pound and producers are scrambling to find the funds and the quantities they will need.

Barry Yaremcio, Beef Forage Specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry told The County’s Agricultural Services Board in August that local producers normally feed 175 days per year, but this year they should prepare to feed for up to 240 days. 

It was also noted during Wednesday’s council meeting that many local producers began feeding in September, which coincides with Yaremcio’s report.

It’s hoped county council’s declaration of Agricultural Disaster encourages the provincial and federal governments to initiate programming to assist agricultural producers in the County of Stettler.

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