Recent dry conditions and grasshopper infestations have led several counties to declare a state of agricultural disaster.
Sturgeon, Parkland, Brazeau, Thorhild, Leduc, and Mackenzie counties have issued disaster declarations. They don’t trigger aid but raising awareness of the situation can be very helpful, said one county official.
“Based on past experiences, making the provincial and federal governments aware has resulted in aid programs and plans,” said James Leskiw, supervisor of agricultural agronomics with Parkland County. “We’ve already had producers and companies offer up hay because they’ve heard in the media that we are in tough times here. Those kind of things have been rolling in since the declaration.”
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A declaration when dealing with the Agricultural Financial Services Corporation. In the case of an agricultural disaster, adjusters may waive a formal site visit before allowing producers to pasture their livestock on grain crops that won’t be worth harvesting.
“Instead of having to wait for an adjuster to inspect the crop, the people can talk to their adjuster, graze their animals immediately, and work out their insurance after the fact,” said Leskiw.
Several other counties are looking at declaring an agricultural disaster and every such vote is welcome, said Leskiw.
“The more that declare, the more it registers with the province and the feds that there is a problem and it’s not just isolated,” he said. “This can influence the magnitude and the breadth of the programs.”
In 2009, 10 counties in Alberta declared a state of agricultural disaster.