All crop loss and damage claims should be settled this year, the party’s ag critic says
By Diego Flammini
Alberta’s official opposition is once again calling on the provincial government to come through with supports for producers.
Earlier in the year, the United Conservative Party (UCP) announced the closure of Agriculture Financial Services Corporation (AFSC) offices in High Prairie, High River, Rimbey, Smoky Lake and Spirit River.
These resulted in 69 Albertans being out of work and fewer offices for farmers to do business at.
The UCP government needs to bring these people back to work, NDP Agriculture Critic Heather Sweet said.
“Stakeholders that I’ve spoken to say they’ve already seen the impact of the UCP cuts to the AFSC staffing model,” she said during a July 16 press conference. “We’re calling for the immediate rehiring of all laid-off AFSC staff.”
Sweet and the NDP are also asking the UCP to create an Emergency Crop Assessment Task Force to ensure claims from this year’s drought are settled and paid out by the end of 2021.
The call for these measures come after Sweet wrote a June 30 letter to Agriculture and Forestry Minister Devin Dreeshen asking him to provide supports for farmers given the extreme heat.
Minister Dreeshen responded to Sweet’s letter outlining steps the UCP government has taken and is taking to ensure producers are supported during this time.
Sweet’s most recent calls for UCP action also came one day after federal, provincial and territorial ag ministers met to address drought conditions and other industry issues.
The federal government has committed to working with the Prairie provinces on an AgriRecovery program to help farmers.
“With a federal election looming, Alberta received verbal commitment from Ottawa that a joint AgriRecovery program will be initiated to support Prairie producers affected by drought conditions prior to an election,” Minister Dreeshen said in a July 15 release. “The details of an AgriRecovery program are still being developed with industry and we will work with our provincial and federal counterparts to ensure Alberta’s farmers and ranchers are supported.”
Dreeshen has also advised crop adjusters to be flexible and complete early assessments with affected crop and hay land.