County of Grande Prairie declares agricultural disaster

The County of Grande Prairie has declared an agricultural disaster after cool and wet weather hampered this year’s production and harvest.

Farmers have been challenged with wet conditions that delayed seeding, while excessive rain and cool weather slowed production and caused poor quality crops, the county said in an announcement on Monday. Between 40% to 60% of crops in the region remain on the field, a figure that's expected to rise with the recent snowfall, the county said.

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“County Council is very aware of the hardships that our agricultural community is facing as a result of the weather conditions,” Deputy Reeve Peter Harris said in a news release.

“By declaring an agricultural disaster, Council wants to bring attention to the devastating conditions impacting crop and livestock producers and request more support for them.”

It’s the fourth straight year of difficult conditions for Alberta Peace farmers, the county said.

Regionally, crop harvest is trailing 25% behind average. The county estimates about half of its major crops have been combined; another 19% has been swathed, and 31% is still standing.

In particular, this year’s hay crop is of poor quality, with some areas in short supply of feed, the county said. That means higher costs for livestock producers who need to haul in hay from outside the region, it said.

“The effects of this agricultural disaster are felt across our communities,” Harris said.

Residents and hunters are reminded to obtain permission from property owners before travelling on open fields, the county said, as crops can be severely damaged by vehicle traffic.

This is a developing story.

Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at editor@ahnfsj.ca.

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