Challenges faced by the agricultural sector over the last 3-4 years, and continued difficulties facing producers this year, were enough to have Athabasca County Council declare a state of agriculture disaster.
Photo – A grain producer works in October to swath his crop at the end of the 2019 growing season.
The decision was made on June 9, 2020 at the Athabasca County Regular Council Meeting after a council discussion that looked at current conditions and the state of agriculture in the municipality over the last several years.
Some producers struggled to bring in their 2019 harvest following continued rain and an early snowfall last fall. Seeding this spring was delayed due to a slow melt and more recently, continued rains have put many acres of crop and pasture under water.
For pork and beef producers, markets for exporting their products have been adversely affected by the worldwide pandemic. The timeline for a return to normal conditions is unknown.
“We know that our producers have had several years of difficult weather and marketing conditions to contend with and this year the pandemic has added another layer of concern,” said Larry Armfelt, Reeve of Athabasca County.
“While we cannot predict the outcome for our producers in 2020, we want to support them where we can, especially during the tough economic conditions we find ourselves in.”
Declaring a state of agriculture disaster doesn’t mean guaranteed funding for producers but it sends a signal to provincial and federal levels of government that assistance may be needed. Producers can then apply for assistance if they are experiencing a difficult year.
Athabasca County will be notifying both the Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) and the Government of Alberta’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry to make them aware of the declaration.