Agricultural disaster declared by MDSR

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Historically wet weather and soil have led the M.D. of Smoky River to declare a state of agricultural disaster.

At its regular meeting July 8, council declared the disaster, says a news release from the M.D.

“I’ve talked to a lot of oldtimers and they say they’ve never seen it this wet at this time of year,” says Reeve Robert Brochu, who operates a cattle and grain farm between Donnelly and McLennan.

“In the last two weeks, 40-50 per cent of the canola in the M.D. we thought would survive has died.

“Now, 70 per cent of canola is dead.”

Persistent and excessive precipitation hampered the harvest of crops remaining from 2019, prevented a significant number of acres from being seeded, caused crops to die and added stress to seeded crops.

“We want to bring awareness to the governments that it’s pretty bad,” Brochu says.

Council hopes provincial and federal governments provide support to extremely serious financial and psychological stresses faced by the municipality’s agricultural producers.

On behalf of producers, council asks that the governments fast-track their review of the business risk management programs, make much needed improvements to the AgriStability program and to proceed with assistance under AgriRecovery.

Severe hardships began with the saturated field conditions experienced during the 2019 harvest, which continued into the spring of 2020.

It was worsened by poor commodity prices issues related to the coronavirus COVID-19) pandemic and current excessive moisture in crops dying or being severely stressed.

Smoky River joins several Peace region municipalities to declare an agricultural disaster, including the neighbouring Big Lakes County surrounding High Prairie.

Other municipalities in Alberta to declare a disaster include Lac La Biche County, Smoky Lake County, Athabasca County, Lamont County, and Thorhild County.

Declaring a disaster doesn’t guarantee any financial support from government.

The purpose and role of a declaration are clarified by the Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) in A Guide for Declaring Municipal Agricultural Disasters in Alberta.

“Municipal declarations bring awareness to an issue in a specific area of the province, but they do not trigger a provincial declaration or access to any funding to support the issue,” the report states.

Any producers or residents who have questions may phone the M.D. office at (780) 837-2221 or by e-mailing the reeve to rbrochu@mdsmokyriver.com.

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