Province says federal help coming for drought-stricken farmers

CALGARY — Ottawa will activate its AgriRecovery program for western farmers, says Alberta agriculture minister Devin Dreeshan.

The request for aid was put to the feds Wednesday by Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba as the prairies brace for worsening drought conditions.

“We’re seeing a very significant drought, certainly in key parts of the province, and in a larger part of the province than we normally would,” said Alberta finance minister Travis Toews, who is also a rancher.

Travis Toews

According to a report released earlier this week by the province, some areas are suffering a one in 50 year moisture deficit, with more hot weather still in the forecast.

Since last July, many areas have continued to fall behind in rainfall.

Crop assessors with Alberta Financial Services Corporation have been asked to start field work immediately, which will allow farmers some certainty when they make insurance claims.

“(It’s) so that any value in crop residue can be salvaged, whether that’s through grazing cattle or putting it up as feed, and that assessment needs to be done on a timely basis,” Toews said.

The assessments also allow farmers to then use any residual value left in the damaged crop. This can include using it for feed or grazing.

The Peace Region, north eastern Alberta, the southern region and the east-central portion of the province are all very dry for this time of year.

In many places crops have stopped growing or are producing far less than normal. The price of hay is roughly double last year.

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