County wants to ensure herd threats aren’t overlooked

Written by Stu Salkeld

The County of Stettler Agriculture Service Board (ASB) heard about a joint government drought relief program, with board members voicing concern that breeding herds be protected. The announcement of drought relief was discussed at the Oct. 25 regular ASB meeting.

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

Manager of Agricultural Operations Quentin Beaumont presented councillors with the drought relief announcement letter from both the Government of Alberta and Government of Canada which detailed $165 million in assistance to livestock producers, “…affected by drought and extreme growing conditions.

“Alberta’s livestock producers are vital to our province’s economy,” stated the release. “It has been a tough growing season with challenges due to dry conditions causing many of our farmers and ranchers to face extraordinary costs. To help them through this difficult time, the governments of Alberta and Canada are partnering on a 2023 Canada-Alberta Drought Livestock Assistance response.”

“Funding for this joint AgriRecovery initiative is cost-shared through the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership (Sustainable CAP), with the federal government providing $99 million and Alberta’s government providing $66 million. Agriculture Financial Services Corporation (AFSC) will administer the program.” It was noted Sustainable CAP is a five year program.

Coun. Stulberg stated he’s heard producers and those in agriculture appear happy with the announcement. “It seems industry is applauding the support,” noted Stulberg.

Coun. James Nibourg asked how the Alberta-Ottawa program compares to the Province of Saskatchewan’s program; Nibourg added it seems that Saskatchewan responded to producer needs more quickly than Alberta.

Reeve Larry Clarke responded that he is aware the Saskatchewan program was exclusively a provincial initiative and didn’t involve the federal government. Clarke also noted when speaking to Stettler MLA Nate Horner, Alberta was spending time trying to force a commitment from Ottawa.

Clarke noted the Alberta government was aware Saskatchewan was moving ahead with its own drought relief program for producers but many felt that, as most Canadians eat the products of Alberta’s agriculture industry, the federal government should have a stake in drought relief.

Coun. Stulberg agreed. “Makes sense to have federal support,” said Stulberg.

He pointed out the jeopardy facing producers this winter revolves around keeping their breeding herds intact in the face of a shortage of feed, bare pastures and increasingly high feed prices.

Stulberg stated this threat should be communicated upstairs to parent ASB organizations, including presentations at upcoming meetings.

Beaumont stated he will contact ASB representatives and send the County of Stettler’s concerns and suggestions.

Stulberg added any further drought assistance information or announcements should be publicized immediately by the County of Stettler, adding that the last time a drought relief program was announced a lot of producers missed the deadline because they didn’t know about it soon enough.

“If the information’s out, might eliminate that,” said Stulberg, with Reeve Clarke agreeing.

Councillors unanimously accepted the report and announcement as information.

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.