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Alberta declares state of agricultural disaster amid poor harvest

Icy Alberta crops on Oct. 9, 2016.
Icy Alberta crops on Oct. 9, 2016. Global News

Two Alberta counties west of Edmonton declared states of agricultural disaster Wednesday following a wet growing season that led to a difficult harvest. The moves came one day after the Alberta government declared a state of agricultural disaster.

Yellowhead County and Parkland County made the declarations Wednesday, both saying area farmers still have crops on the field due to excessive moisture this growing season.

“There are many years where growing conditions are perfect for farmers to have a highly productive season – this, unfortunately, was not one of them,” Yellowhead County Mayor Gerald Soroka said.

“Right now in a significant number of acres across Parkland County, the excess moisture has made it very difficult for farmers to get into the fields and harvest their crops,” Mark Cardinal, manager of Parkland County Agricultural Services, said. “There is simply still too much moisture in the ground. Unless the ground freezes and precipitation is at a minimum, most of these crops will have to remain on the ground until spring.”

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READ MORE: Alberta county declares state of agricultural disaster due to poor harvest

On Tuesday, the Alberta government declared a state of agricultural disaster, saying “the agriculture industry is experiencing economic hardship resulting from adverse weather conditions leading to damaged crops throughout the province.”

The province said declaring the disaster allows the Agriculture Financial Services Corporation (AFSC) to access funding to ensure producers with insurance are compensated for their losses in a timely fashion.

“It’s been a real heartbreaker of a year. We understand the wet and snowy conditions are delaying harvest and having an impact on the quality of crops in many parts of Alberta,” Agriculture and Forestry Minister Oneil Carlier said.

“The wet harvest season has been challenging for our farmers. Producers are concerned that they will not be able to harvest until spring. We take this issue seriously and our government is continuing to find ways to support our farm families.”

According to the most recent Alberta crop report, producers across central and northwest Alberta managed to harvest about 87 per cent of their crop. Yields are above average throughout Alberta, but the quality of the crop is “extremely disappointing” due to the high moisture content.

Watch below: A second early snowfall has nearly destroyed any hope of bringing in a bountiful harvest for farmers across Alberta. As Julia Wong reports, it could spell devastation ahead. (Filed Oct. 16, 2016).

Click to play video 'Second snowfall devastating for Alberta farmers' Second snowfall devastating for Alberta farmers
Second snowfall devastating for Alberta farmers – Oct 16, 2016

Yellowhead County said about 50 per cent of cereal crops remain in the field and about 21 per cent of oil seeds crops remain standing, “approaching definite disaster thresholds.”

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Both counties have asked the province for disaster recovery and support programs to help address the issue.

Earlier this fall, several other Alberta counties declared states of agricultural disaster, including Lac Ste. Anne County, Brazeau County, Leduc County and Thorhild County.