Northern Sunrise declares state of agricultural disaster

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

Northern Sunrise County has declared a ‘State of Agricultural Disaster’ after discussion at its Aug. 24 meeting.

The declaration raises awareness of the grim circumstances being faced by many agricultural producers, whether they be crop, livestock, crop/livestock or apicultural producers.

Agriculture fieldman Trent Keller told council yields were “under average” with wheat 30-35 bushels per acre, barley 10-70 and peas 10-35, although with such a range “it’s difficult to tell.”

However, he added it was the hay and pasture lands which suffered most.

Councillors noted the difficult times. Marie Reine – Judah Councillor Dan Boisvert noted producers in his area were having “a hard, hard year.”

Three Creeks – Wesley Creek Councillor Corinna Williams noted there were good and bad pockets in the region.

“Some areas are good, some are not,” she said, adding it was worthwhile to make the declaration not only for financial but mental health reasons.

“It lets [farmers] know [council] is thinking of you,” she said.

Nampa Rural District Councillor Audrey Gall agreed.

“Some fields are decent, some are weak,” she said.

“If we don’t declare a disaster, livestock producers won’t be able to access federal programs,” she added.

“We have said we will stand behind our agriculture sector and this is one way we can do it.”

Reeve Carolyn Kolebaba agreed.

“We want to make sure [farmers] get tax deferrals, she said.

“It’s absolutely needed.”

“It’s about advocacy,” added Boisvert.

Council ensured the beekeepers [apiculture] were not forgotten in their declaration.

Much of the county began the year with adequate moisture but as the crop growing season progressed a lengthy heat wave, coupled with little rain, and poor air quality due to excessive smoke from wildfires, put pressure on fields and pastures.

Council recognizes not all areas of the county have been as severely affected as others; but there is an expectation hay crops on average will yield less than 50 per cent of the five-year average for the area.

Due to pastures experiencing little regrowth this year, most livestock producers will not have feed to carry their herds through the upcoming winter.

Grain, oilseed, and pulse crops are expected to yield less than 50 per cent of the five-year average in areas of the municipality, depending on the seeding dates, soil structure and rainfall received.

In regard to the apiculture industry, higher temperatures and low moisture affects the plants’ ability to produce nectar, and shortens the distance bees fly. Energy is used to cool the hives and smoke disrupts bees’ natural ability to navigate. All have an impact on the production of honey and return on investment.

Council makes the declaration to urge the provincial and federal governments to fast track the initiation of any and all programs that may mitigate the negative impact on producers.

Please check Northern Sunrise County’s website for more information.

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