On Friday, August 21st, 2015 the Alberta government declared the province in a state of agricultural disaster after many municipalities declared their regions in the same state.
The province had experienced a very dry year, especially in June when it is critical for rainfall to optimize crop growth. Some regions report approximately 70% of grain crops, hay and pasture in fair to poor condition, with canola being hit the hardest in the province.
By making the declaration the Province is able to utilize the Agricultural Financial Services Corporation (AFSC) and use reserve funds to quickly pay out higher insurance claims. AFSC expects to pay out close to $1 billion to the reported 80 percent of farmers in Alberta struggling with drought. Some of those farmers in our own backyard.
The County of St. Paul and Lac La Biche County both made declaration on July 28th to display their regions where is dire straits, while the MD of Bonnyville waited two weeks after their neighbours to make their declaration on August 11th.
One of the major concerns farmers have is feeding cattle through the winter. Some farmers have been faced with the tough decision to feed or sell, sadly many have had to choose the latter. Livestock prices have been fairing well, however if more farmers start selling, the price will likely drop.
On August 12th, Lakelandconnect.net spoke with MD of Bonnyville Reeve Ed Rondeau who predicted the cost of cattle in the spring would likely hit extreme highs.