Edmonton

Alberta county declares 'state of agricultural disaster' over drought

Drought conditions prompted the county council in Camrose, Alta., to declare a local state of agricultural disaster Tuesday.

Drought conditions prompted the county council in Camrose, Alta., to declare a local state of agricultural disaster Tuesday.

"This sends a message to the province that the agriculture industry needs their support, and that they need to look at this and maybe think about instituting their drought risk management plan," said Paul King, the agricultural and environmental manager for the County of Camrose.

A severe lack of rainfall this spring and very little moisture over the winter has led to the disappearance of most local ground and surface water.

The lack of moisture and late frosts have caused crops to die, putting them two to three weeks behind schedule. The conditions are also creating serious problems for livestock producers since they have no pasture land and little chance to grow hay, King said.

The crop shortages and rising feed prices are forcing some farmers to sell off their cattle early.

Bruderheim producer Barry Schram sold 40 of his 500 cattle at an auction near Westlock, Alta., on Tuesday.

"There's no hay. Pastures are dry," he said.  "We could rent pasture for 2,000 bucks a quarter and put the cows on. But you gotta truck in there, truck in back."

But any extra money he might make by keeping his cows until fall wouldn't offset these added costs, he said.

 

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