Farmer Grant Bird, left, and farm hand Connor Hunt bale a hay crop near Cremona, Alta., Monday, July 17, 2017.Farmers are on a never-ending quest for more detailed weather forecasts as they try to increase yields on larger plots while contending with more extreme weather, such as the record rains that have drenched parts of southern Ontario this year, or the droughts that have left vast fields bone dry in Saskatchewan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Stettler County declares ‘Agricultural Disaster’

‘Farmers are currently running combines on very short crops,’ says Reeve Larry Clarke

County of Stettler council has declared an agricultural disaster to raise awareness with the provincial and federal governments about the drought conditions.

A lack of snow pack, run-off and rainfall combined with extended heat waves led to the declaration, which was made at a council meeting on Wednesday.

The 2021 growing season appears to be the third worst year in the last 50 years for relative moisture conditions, according to the most recent moisture maps, the county said in a news release Friday.

“Farmers are currently running combines on very short crops. We’re seeing crops that are too short for equipment to pick up,” said Reeve Larry Clarke.

“Farmers are going to be struggling to make something of their crops, and producers are going to be paying to find feed that is not going to be readily available. Surface water in some areas is in severe depletion, or in many cases bone dry.”

Last Friday, the Alberta government announced a relief program for livestock and bee producers. Relief for other commodities has yet to be announced.

The county said discussions with local producers have shown similar impacts of the dry weather in all areas, with the situation being most dire in the county’s southeast and marginal improvement as moving towards the northwest.

Most producers reported an intent to combine as the price of grains are holding, but those producers are expecting only limited economic benefit due to reduced yields (25-40 per cent).

Producers are reporting 20-40 per cent yield of normal hay crop harvests. Pastures are dry and bare, with producers now having to consider downsizing their herds.

County council declared an agricultural disaster with the intent to encourage the provincial and federal governments to initiate programming to assist their producers.

As last Friday, 22 municipalities had declared an agricultural disaster in the Alberta including central Alberta’s Paintearth County.

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