Team Alberta held a conference call on Wednesday April 26 with Agriculture and Forestry Minister Oneil Carlier and senior officials from Alberta Agriculture and Forestry and Alberta Financial Services Corporation (AFSC) to stress the need for immediate intervention into the dire situation with unharvested crops around the province.
Team Alberta is requesting the government and AFSC allow farmers to dispose of last year’s crop as they see fit without affecting their insurance coverage, to minimize further issues ahead of spring seeding. Seeding has already been delayed in many parts of the province due to heavy snow. There are currently one million unharvested acres in Alberta farmers’ fields.
“We must move away from field to field assessment and begin geographic write-offs in order to begin working on this year’s crop,” said Jason Lenz, chair of Alberta Barley. “There’s simply too much ground to cover and not enough time.”
AFSC and government officials confirmed that they have streamlined their internal processes to allow crop inspectors to make quicker decisions, such as making determinations on quality downgrades caused by mice excreta. The provincial and federal government are in talks regarding future changes to the Wildlife Compensation program to accommodate this in the future.
Farmers are currently faced with a near-impossible task: wait for snow to melt and land to dry out, harvest last year’s crop, repair and prep fields and plant the 2017 crop all within the next six weeks.
“With killing frosts beginning by mid-September in north-central Alberta and the Peace Region, farmers are now on an extraordinarily tight timeline,” said Kevin Bender, vice-chair of Alberta Wheat Commission. “We must be given freedom to operate to avoid another disaster this fall.”
Every passing day is one step closer to a wide spread disaster if farmers are not allowed to seed until they meet with one of the AFSC’s 130 crop inspectors. Team Alberta wants expedited insurance payouts to be provided for farmers in the most affected areas of the province.
“It’s unrealistic that farmers will be able to have any success in 2017 unless the government and AFSC allow for special provisions during this serious situation,” said Greg Sears, chair of Alberta Canola Producers Commission.“
With snow still falling, crop quality will continue to degrade and make it that much harder for farmers to pick up and market what’s left on the ground.
“We must continue to work collaboratively with the government and AFSC, but time is running out for thousands of Alberta farmers,” said D’Arcy Hilgartner, chair of the Alberta Pulse Growers Commission. “We are working to ensure that harvest and seeding can go as smoothly as possible from here on out.”
Team Alberta, government officials and AFSC are committed to ongoing meetings as the spring progresses.
Team Alberta is a collaborative initiative led by the province’s four crop commissions: