Alta. county that flooded 2 years ago now declaring ag emergency over drought-like conditions

Fields that swallowed up machinery two years ago during a rain-filled season are now so dry a county northwest of Edmonton is declaring a state of agricultural disaster.

"It's from one extreme to the next. At one point we have combines stuck in the field and then a couple years later, we have pastures running low [and livestock producers] wondering where they're going to pasture them," Ross Bohnet, councillor and chair of the Ag Servicves Board, told CTV News Edmonton.

The council voted July 22 to make the emergency declaration in an advocacy effort and bring attention to the drought-like conditions.

"This county council and the ag service part figured that this would be the only way to go," Bohnet said.

"It's definitely county wide. We've had some disasters that (were) a little more spotty, but this is not spotty whatsoever."

According to Alberta's latest crop report on July 13, just 37 per cent of the province's growing conditions are rated good to excellent, half of the five-year average of 74 per cent.

Lac Ste. Anne County is among the driest regions in the province. According to the county, fields were dry the summer of 2020 and there was little winter snow cover. Without seasonal rain and the prolonged heat wave, some livestock producers are downsizing generational herds during what is normally the height of the grazing season.

Bohnet told CTV News Edmonton little feed can be found within the county's borders.

Ottawa has told the prairie provinces help is coming by way of the federal AgriRecovery program.

"I know the federal ag minister is in Manitoba today meeting with ag industry groups. All indications are the AgriRecovery federal-provincial program will be implemented shortly," Alberta's associate minister or rural economic development, Nate Horner, told media on Thursday.

"It's top of mind for everyone."

And Premier Jason Kenney said his government "may be making an announcement in the very near future about working with livestock producers." 

"So that they can access some of these damaged crops so that we can at least use at least some of the nutritional value," he said.

Bohnet said he's heard the "rumblings" but no official offer of assistance from either the province or federal government has been made yet.

Lac Ste. Anne declared a state of agriculture disaster in 2019 over flooding.