Big Lakes declares agricultural disaster

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Another rural municipal in the Peace region has declared an agricultural disaster.
Big Lakes County council declared a municipal agricultural disaster for the High Prairie region at its regular meeting Sept. 8.
“We’ve taken a big hit in the Peace region,” says Brett Hawken, director of community and protective services.
“This brings awareness to the provincial government.”
At its regular meeting Aug. 20, the Big Lakes Agricultural Service Board made the recommendation for council to declare an agricultural disaster.
“Declaring an agricultural disaster does not guarantee any additional funding for producers,” Hawken says.
“However, it does help to inform the provincial and federal governments about the agricultural hardships in the county.”
A prolonged record-breaking heat wave peaked throughout June and much of July, Hawken reports.
High temperatures and lack of moisture for consecutive weeks impacted both livestock and crop producers throughout much of the province.
Crop conditions as of July 27 show that crops are 57 per cent under the five-year average for quality in the Peace region.
Pasture is currently rated as 63 per cent poor and yield for hay is estimated at 0.8 ton per acre, half of the five-year average.
Big Lakes agricultural producers are faced with crop failures and premature ripening of crops, with yields and quality likely to be poor.
These conditions are forcing producers to make tough decisions such as herd reductions and having to use viable crop for feed.
Producers from the area are predicting they will need to start feeding livestock up to a month earlier than normal.
As of Sept. 8, 36 municipalities in the province have declared agricultural disasters.
In the Peace region, nine municipalities have declared agricultural disasters.
That includes the M.D. of Smoky River based in Falher, the M.D. of Greenview based in Valleyview, Northern Sunrise County and the M.D. of Peace in the Peace River area and the M.D. of Fairview.
The Alberta Crop Report states that 15 per cent of all crops in the Peace region are rated in fair to excellent condition, down from 60.8 per cent in 2020 and 66.7 per cent for the 10-year average for 2011-2020.

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