A lack of moisture early in the season, unusually high temperatures and variable winter snow led to poor growing conditions throughout Foothills County, south of Calgary, leading the city council to declare a municipal agricultural disaster on Wednesday.
“Once you get south of Blackie, south of High River, we’re really looking at a repeat of 2021, when we had that severe drought there,” said Caleb Scott, Foothills County’s agricultural services manager.
Two years ago, several provincial municipalities declared disasters.
In Foothills County, 50 to 90 percent of annual crops and perennial forage crops have been affected this year, with eastern areas receiving less than 35 percent of their average annual rainfall, the county says. Some areas have seen less than 50mm so far.
Municipal agricultural disasters do not automatically trigger funding or program responses, but are used to signal to state and federal governments, as well as the public, that the conditions faced by farmers have become dire.
Vulcan County has also stated.
Vulcan County agriculture director Kelly Malmberg said soil moisture reserves are very low this year. There was enough moisture to sow in the county, but the dry, prolonged heat left them without moisture.
That means loss of yield this year, with less grain production, and farmers who will struggle to find enough feed without depending on other parts of the province.
“I would say for the last five, six years, excluding 2022, we’ve been going through a pretty severe drought. We haven’t had many of our typical winters where we get quite a bit of snow,” he said. said.
“I was hoping we saw quite a bit of moisture this winter, and I thought we were coming out of this drought. But obviously not. We’re in the middle of it right now.”
Beginning June 13, Alberta received significant rainfall across much of the province. It ranged from roughly Calgary in the south to the southern parts of the Peace Region in the north, according to the state government’s most recent report. report moisture situation.
Much of the northwestern region was flooded with rain, while the northern peace region, as well as parts of the southern region and eastern parts of the central region, received little to no rain and are in immediate need of moisture, the report said.
The province says constant monitoring of crop and water supply conditions is a top priority.
Some moisture levels in central and southern Alberta are estimated to have soil moisture reserves that are low nearly once every 50 years, notes Savannah Johannsen, a spokesman for Alberta’s minister of Agriculture and Irrigation.
“We are constantly looking for more options to help our farmers during this time,” she wrote in a statement.
“As we do every growing season, we encourage growers to review Agriculture Financial Services Corporation’s business risk management options to find one that makes sense for their operations.”
Agriculture is an important part of Alberta’s economy. In 2021, the industry contributed $8.1 billion to GDP, employing more than 58,300 Albertans, according to Invest in Alberta.