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Grain dryer grant not as important to Lethbridge County farmers as those in northern Alberta

Grain dryer grant not as important to Lethbridge County farmers as those in northern Alberta
WATCH ABOVE: The Alberta government has introduced a new grain dryer grant to support farmers impacted by a poor harvest this past season. Charlye Caldwell has the story and reaction from local farmers.

The Alberta government has introduced the Efficient Grain Dryer Program to cover half of the expenses associated with improving grain dryers.

The announcement made on Monday is a $2-million grant that is funded through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP).

Thirty-two per cent of crops in the Peace Region area were left unharvested during the last crop season because of an early snowfall.

Agricultural and Forestry Minister Devin Dreeshen said the new grant will be key for northern Alberta farmers to recover from a poor harvest.

“This grain dryer program, it’s something we think will go a long way of addressing the situation that’s happened here in Alberta, as well as helping farmers remain competitive in a world that we export so much here in the province of Alberta, and we’re competing with global producers,” Dreeshen said.

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READ MORE: $2M grain dryer program launched to help farmers affected by terrible harvest

Farmers who purchased a grain dryer in the past two years will be able to benefit from the grant because the program is retroactive to April 1, 2018.

In Lethbridge County, the majority of farmers do not use grain dryers because of the already arid climate.

Alberta Wheat Commission Chairman Gary Stanford says other equipment such as aeration fans and irrigation are more critical for a successful harvest in southern Alberta.

“We don’t dry a lot of grain in between Lethbridge and Medicine Hat because we live in a drier climate and we harvest our crops during September and August, and so that way we don’t, we just have aeration in our bins and so on,” he said.

READ MORE: Lethbridge County forms alliance with irrigation districts

Stanford added that he hopes there is enough space in the CAP funding in order to help pay for expenses faced by farmers in southern Alberta.

When Global News asked the Alberta government about improvements to existing grants or the introduction of new ones for southern Alberta farmers, the province said it remains committed to supporting Alberta’s 13 irrigation districts.

“We held the line on funding by investing $14 million in 2019-20 for irrigation infrastructure rehabilitation projects,” the government said in a statement.

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“In 2019, we provided a grant of $3 million in operational funding to offset some of the pressure.

“The Irrigation Efficiency Program is accepting applications under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership.

“This cost-shared grant will help irrigators make investments in their on-farm irrigation infrastructure to increase water and energy efficiency.”