Drought of 2002
CBC News Online | August 6, 2004
To those who live on Canada's Prairies, water is priceless. The drought that hit Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta in 2002 seared crops and left livestock without feed or water.
David Phillips of Environment Canada told The Western Producer, a Canadian agriculture newspaper, that the drought across the southern Prairies is the worst on record.
Peter Leavitt, a biologist at the University of Regina, has studied the frequency, intensity and duration of drought over the past 800 years through fossils. He told CBC News Online that he believes the Prairies could relive the drought of the 1930s within the next 30 years.
Specifically, Leavitt found that the odds of a drought are highest in southern Alberta. The province faces a 42 per cent chance of severe drought by 2030 while central Saskatchewan faces a 25 per cent chance. "I think that (diversification) is definitely the right decision for these farmers. By changing how you farm you are not putting all of your eggs in one basket," he said.
June 6, 2002:
Canada's Western premiers call for a national debate on climate change after a meeting in Dawson City, Yukon.
June 11, 2002:
The Prairies are hit with flooding after a long, dry spring. Washed out roads and flooded farms caused some towns to declare a state of emergency.
» CBC STORY: Flooding hits Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario
June 20, 2002:
Prime Minister Jean Chrétien announces a new farm aid bill to help agriculture in Canada. It proposes a cost-sharing agreement with the provinces that will provide assistance to those struggling with drought, flooding, low crop-yields or other challenges. The deal is worth $5.2 billion over six years, with 40 per cent coming from the provinces.
» CBC STORY: PM makes last minute change to new agricultural policy
June 27, 2002:
Some provincial agriculture ministers sign on to the federal farm aid package but Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Quebec say they can't afford to buy into it.
» CBC STORY: Some provinces turn down Ottawa's farm aid plan
June 29, 2002:
Because of the dry conditions, fires burn out of control in Saskatchewan and northern Alberta, forcing people out of their homes and leaving firefighters praying for rain.
» CBC STORY: Two fires merge, threaten Sask. communities
July 12, 2002:
Ottawa sends a message to Prairie farmers to diversify their crops in order to survive the drought. The government tells them to start raising more livestock and to abandon many of their crops.
July 17, 2002:
Alberta announces an aid program for farmers across the province: $324 million in specialized drought aid, to be divided among farmers depending on the size of their farm.
» CBC STORY: Drought relief package for Alberta
Aug. 8, 2002:
Livestock producers in Alberta receive the first shipment of donated hay in the Hay West campaign, bringing hay from Eastern Canada to the Prairies.
Aug. 13, 2002:
Natural Resources Canada warns that global warming presents a long-term threat to Canada's water supply. It says more prairie droughts are possible, together with lower lake levels and increased conflict over water.
Aug. 19, 2002:
Agriculture minister Lyle Vanclief announces an extra $2.2 million in drought relief. The money goes to pay for rail shipments as part of the Hay West campaign.
Aug. 23, 2002:
Statistics Canada estimates that the 2002 harvest will be one of the worst in Canadian history. In Alberta, spring wheat yields were expected to drop 50 per cent from 2001, barley by 44 per cent and canola by 57 per cent. Overall, Statscan estimated the wheat crop would be the smallest since 1974. But Ralph Goodale, the cabinet minister responsible for the Wheat Board, says the figures do not convince him that farmers need more aid.
» CBC STORY: Prairie crops to be smallest in decades: Statistics Canada
Aug. 25, 2002:
Companies on the Vancouver waterfront lock out about 600 members of the Grain Workers Union during a contract dispute. But the lockout is not expected to have a major effect on the movement of grain because the drought means very little grain is being shipped.
Aug. 27, 2002:
Some Alberta ranchers buy pasture land in Saskatchewan, which has not been hit as hard by the drought.
Sept. 6, 2002:
The Canadian Wheat Board drops out of world markets, because the drought means there is not enough wheat to sell to new customers.
» CBC STORY: Wheat Board pulls out of world markets
Sept. 17, 2002:
The Saskatchewan Wheat Pool cuts 200 jobs, many at head office, because of reduced sales and the need to cut costs.
» CBC STORY: Saskatchewan Wheat Pool cutting 200 jobs
The Canadian Wheat Board warns that pressure from the farm lobby in the U.S. may result in the imposition of tariffs that could further hurt farmers, already suffering from the drought.
» CBC STORY: U.S. farmers after Wheat Board again
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