County of Stettler council wants to draw attention to drought program deadlines

Written by Stu Salkeld

The County of Stettler Agriculture Service Board (ASB) wants to draw the attention of producers to the drought assistance programs currently available, and even more importantly to the deadlines for those programs.

The discussion was held at the ASB’s regular meeting Nov. 22.

The County of Stettler ASB is comprised of members of county council and chaired by Coun. Les Stulberg.

Director of Agriculture Services Quentin Beaumont presented board members with an update on drought assistance programs currently available for producers from the provincial and federal governments.

Regular readers of the ECA Review will know central Alberta rural councils have watched the drought proceed over the summer of 2023 with concern for all agricultural operations and in particular livestock operations. Councils have discussed rising prices for livestock feed.

Beaumont stated one of the prime avenues for producers to research drought relief is the Agriculture Financial Services Corporation (AFSC), which offers programs to assist Alberta’s agriculture industry. Beaumont noted AFSC was unable to attend the ASB meeting but county staff put together a report on two of AFSC’s most-used programs from 2023, AgriRecovery and AgriStability.

His report noted that AgriRecovery is a provincial and federal program. “(It) helps producers recover extraordinary costs beyond what is available through other financial assistance programs,” stated the staff memo.

“The governments of Alberta and Canada are providing $165 million to support livestock producers affected by drought and extreme growing conditions.

“Applications for the 2023 Canada-Alberta Drought Livestock Assistance initiative close midnight Jan. 15, 2024.

“To be eligible for the initiative, livestock producers must be located (livestock or residence) in specified municipalities, have altered their usual grazing practices due to drought conditions for more than 21 days in 2023, have incurred losses to manage and maintain female breeding animals such as cattle, bison, horses, elk, sheep, goats, alpacas, yak, musk ox, deer, water buffalo and llamas; a minimum of 15 animals per type of livestock are required to qualify.

“Benefits will be based on a feed-need calculation for feed costs incurred resulting from lost grazing days for eligible breeding animals on hand as of Dec. 31, 2023.

Eligible producers could access up to $150 per head to help maintain the breeding herd in drought regions.”

Beaumont noted in his report AgriStability looks to help producers with risk.

“The AgriStability program was reopened for late participation so producers affected by wildfires and drought can consider enrolling to manage business risks,” stated the report.

“AgriStability protects Canadian producers against large declines in farming income due to production loss, increased costs and market conditions. The program is offered through the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership, which is a shared commitment between federal, provincial and territorial governments.”

Beaumont noted county staff can place this information on a prominent location on the municipal website and provide links to AFSC’s site which breaks things down according to farm-type.

“It’s definitely worthwhile to talk to someone from AFSC because they know their programs better than we do,” said Beaumont.

He also stated that timing is a factor for these programs as the ASB won’t have another meeting until February, 2024 so it was important to get information to board members to give to their constituents.

“We wanted to get something out so people are reminded they should look into these programs before we get hit in the next season and you’re behind the ball,” said Beaumont.

Coun. Dave Grover pointed out the cow-calf part of AgriRecovery being $150 a head, adding producers are asked to provide information on their operation such as changes the producer has had to make and the number of head they had at the end of June, 2023.

He also pointed out this program has an important deadline at the end of January, 2024.

Chair Stulberg agreed producers need this information. “You’re right, we don’t want anyone missing deadlines,” said Stulberg.

Stu Salkeld
Local Journalism Initiative reporter
ECA Review

About the author

Stu Salkeld

Stu Salkeld, who has upwards of 28 years of experience in the Alberta community newspaper industry, is now covering councils and other news in the Stettler region and has experience working in the area as well.

He has joined the ECA Review as a Local Journalism Initiative Journalist.

Stu earned his two-year diploma in print journalism from SAIT in Calgary from 1993 to ’95 and was raised in Oyen, Alta., one of the communities within the ECA Review’s coverage area.