Government of Alberta Drought Disaster Mitigating Measures

Government of Alberta Drought Disaster Mitigating Measures

Government of Alberta strongly supports the agriculture industry through a variety of programs and services, such as the suite of business risk management programs offered by Agriculture Financial Services Corporation (AFSC), which provides financial support to producers facing adverse conditions. The suite includes AgriInsurance, AgriStability, AgriInvest, and AgriRecovery, and is designed to respond to each producer’s unique situation and offset the financial impact of weather-related challenges. To learn more about AFSC’s business risk management programs, I encourage you to visit the AFSC website or contact AFSC toll-free at 1-877-899-2372.

On August 6, 2021, the Government of Alberta announced a $136 million commitment under the AgriRecovery framework and has asked the federal government to provide an additional $204 million for a total relief package of $340 million to help cover extraordinary costs producers are facing during the continued dry conditions. In response, on August 15, the federal government announced increased total AgriRecovery funding up to $500 million to address extraordinary costs faced by producers across Canada due to drought and wildfires. AgriRecovery responses are cost-shared 60-40 between the federal and provincial government and are designed to cover extraordinary costs not covered by existing business risk management programs, such as those incurred due to extreme drought conditions or other natural disasters.

The livestock feed assistance funding will also provide much needed financial support and immediate cash flow for Alberta’s livestock producers to purchase feed, water, and fencing. This AgriRecovery initiative will provide an immediate payment of $94 per head for eligible feed and water access costs for breeding females. Taking a receipt-based approach, producers may receive additional payments through the program to reflect extraordinary circumstances faced in some areas of the province. Application details will be announced soon and all program information will be available on the AFSC website.

Crop producers benefit from AgriInsurance, a program designed to help farmers experiencing production declines in annual or perennial crops caused by natural hazards. These include drought, flood, wind, frost, snow, excessive rain, excessive heat, and losses caused by uncontrollable disease, insects, or wildlife. AgriInsurance provides a comprehensive coverage for most commercially grown crops in Alberta, with catastrophic coverage available for rare and severe losses at no additional cost to the producer (100 per cent government paid coverage for rare and unforeseeable losses). AFSC clients with production-based insurance can choose to use their insured crop for alternate use, including pasturing, silaging, stacking, or baling after contacting AFSC to obtain approval to release the acres.

On July 22, 2021, Alberta doubled the low yield threshold to allow for additional cereal or pulse crops to be salvaged for livestock feed. This adjustment encourages producers to act swiftly to salvage crops for livestock feed rather than watch their fields deteriorate further, and risk harvesting nothing. Earlier this year, Agriculture and Forestry announced a 20 per cent reduction in insurance premiums, which provided a savings of $70 million to farmers and ranchers, and encouraged 349 new producers to enroll in AgriInsurance for the 2021 growing season.

Ranchers and cattle farmers struggling to provide water for their livestock can access the Emergency Water Pumping Program. A producer or group of producers can rent pipe and pumping equipment to fill dugouts or other suitable catch basins from nearby water sources. The equipment and pipe is sent from dispatch locations to the pumping site, and technical assistance is provided for proper operation. Agricultural Water Specialists can also be contacted at 310-FARM (3276) for recommendations on constructing or maintaining a safe/secure water supply.

Additionally, the cost-shared Canadian Agricultural Partnership Water Program provides assistance to primary producers who implement measures to secure water supplies and increase efficient use of current water supplies. More information on this program can be found on the Canadian Agricultural Partnership website or by phoning 310-FARM (3276).

Farmers who sell part of their breeding herd due to drought in a prescribed drought region are also eligible to defer a portion of sale proceeds to the following year under the federal Livestock Tax Deferral provision. It is my intention to ensure that all significantly affected Alberta municipalities are included in this designation.