Stettler County’s council has agreed to put pressure on the province to help with the agricultural disaster currently gripping the region.
During the July 12 council meeting, Reeve Larry Clarke had an item added to the agenda: cattle feed importation.
According to Clarke during the meeting, he’d received calls from producers in Manitoba who were willing to sell fed to Albertans “at a very reasonable cost.”
“It’s getting it here,” said Clarke, noting that “Paintearth is in the same predicament.”
While Clarke acknowledges that bringing in feed from other jurisdictions is not without risk, namely the importation of weeds and pests, he sees the only other option as people beginning to cull their herds.
While the costs associated with the feed itself are reasonable, with fuel prices being as high as they are, transportation is where most of the cost will come from, noted Clarke, and that is where he wanted government support.
“In 2002, you were buying feed from wherever you could,” said Coun. James Nibourg, agreeing with Clarke.
“As a good producer, you have to feed animals.”
According to the County of Stettler’s Ag. Operations manager, Quinton Beaumont, producers have two choices given the drought conditions.
“You bring feed to match your livestock, or you reduce your livestock to match your feed,” said Beaumont.
According to Clarke, Special Areas has already submitted a letter to the Alberta government minister of agriculture asking for support, and he requested that Stettler County follow suit.
Beaumont noted that one challenge facing producers during this ongoing disaster is that as of the meeting date, there has been no word of any agriculture-stability programs through the Agriculture Financial Services Corporation (AFSC) as seen during previous droughts.
“We may have to get a little more creative with our ask,” said Beaumont.
One suggestion Beaumont put forward, in the interim, is for producers to use fields with poor crops for feed instead of sale.
Council agreed for administration to draft a letter of support going to the minister of agriculture putting pressure on the province to provide agricultural assistance in a motion by Coun. Les Stulberg, which was carried.
As part of a separate motion, council agreed to open a discussion on mental health in agriculture to see what they can do to support producers during this stressful period.