By Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Kneehill County councillors declared an agricultural disaster after hearing a staff report describing worse than a one in 100 year drought in some parts of the municipality. The decision was made at the Aug. 17 regular meeting of council.

Councillors heard a report from Shelby Sherwick, manager of parks and agriculture services, describing the staff’s efforts to gather information from local producers on the effects of this summer’s drought.

“The 2021 season has yielded very challenging environmental conditions in the region, with lack of seasonal rain, and a prolonged heat wave in June and July leading to prolonged drought conditions and impacts on sources of feed and crop yields in Kneehill County,” stated Sherwick’s report to council.

“The Alberta Crop Report conditions from July 27, 2021 shows… crops in the central region listed as 16.1 per cent in ‘good’ to ‘excellent’ condition, compared to the five year average of 75.1 per cent,” the report stated. 

“Moisture conditions have been severely dry across most of the county and vary by region, with some areas experiencing less than one in 50 and less than one in 100-year dry conditions, according to provincial moisture data.”

Sherwick noted that the Rural Municipalities Association (RMA) has guidelines for municipalities to follow when considering an agricultural disaster. 

“From the RMA guide, municipal declarations of agricultural disasters do not automatically trigger access to increased funding programs, provincially or federally,” she stated. “Declaring municipal agricultural disasters may serve as indicators for province-wide declarations and can bring awareness to challenges facing agriculture in specific areas of the province.”

This item is reprinted with permission from the East Central Alberta Review. For the complete article, click HERE

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