Stettler County wants deeper talks about Open Farm Days

Council voices concern about taxpayer dollars in agriculture event

By Stu Salkeld The Stettler Independent

County of Stettler council had some concerns about their participation in the annual Open Farm Days event.

The county council received a letter from Stettler Regional Board of Trade president Matt Wall. “The Stettler Regional Board of Trade is writing to invite the County of Stettler’s participation in the 2018 Open Farm Days bus tours and Taste of the Heartland long table dinner,” stated Wall in his letter to council.

“After last year’s successful event we would appreciate the assistance of Council to allow us to plan with administration, assistance in staffing for the event, and financing the busses for the Open Farm Days bus tours.

“Taste of the Heartland and the Open Farm Days bus tours was a two part event that took place on August 19, 2017. The event received praise from the County, the Town, the participants and the media. It was hailed as a celebration of Stettler’s agricultural industry and an opportunity for urbanites to come and learn about farming from the ground up. We are proud of what we did last year and believe the County involvement was integral to the success of the event,” added Wall.

After reading the letter, councilor James Nibourg said the dinner price, $125 per plate, was expensive. He noted Kneehill’s similar dinner was about $45, and more affordable.

Councilor Ernie Gendre agreed the meal cost should be reduced to $40 or $45.

Councilor Wayne Nixon said he would like more information about the event before deciding on funding. Nixon said the county’s Ag Service Board did a lot of work on this event and the proceeds went to the Board of Trade.

Nibourg said the county’s time in lieu to staff was “huge,” and was recognized to a certain extent.

Nixon said the event certainly has an economic benefit but the county’s staff contribution on top of a financial contribution needs to be discussed. “We want to make it more of an equal partnership than it was in the past,” said Nixon.

Nibourg said the Open Farm Days event is a great event, but the total cost to taxpayers needs to be known ahead of time.

Councilors agreed to instruct county staff to meet with the Board of Trade to discuss county participation in the Open Farm Days event.

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