Another late snowfall is making a tough situation worse, especially in central and northern parts of Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Much of Western Canada has received a fresh layer of snow in the last day or two, just as fields in some areas were starting to dry up after snow and rain during the Easter weekend.
With an estimated one million unharvested acres still in the field in Alberta, several provincial crop commissions will be meeting with the province’s Agriculture Minister Oneil Carlier and officials with the Agriculture Financial Services Corporation on Wednesday to request immediate action to help producers.
AFSC’s crop insurance terms require farmers obtain a pre-harvest assessment of yield before “putting their crop to another use”, even if it’s not salvageable.
“In many areas, destroying last year’s crop is the only solution that ensures farmers can seed this year’s crop early enough to avoid fall frost damage,” said Kevin Auch, Alberta Wheat Commission Chair, in a news release on Monday. “We need quick action from the government to ensure farmers avoid a repeat of the circumstances they faced last year.”
The “Team Alberta” coalition, which includes the Alberta wheat, pulse, canola, and barley grower commissions, is asking AFSC to adjust its crop insurance terms.
“If harvesting simply isn’t an option because of timing and wet conditions, the procedures around crop insurance payouts will need to be adjusted so farmers’ crops aren’t compromised two years in a row,” said Jason Lenz, Alberta Barley Chair.
Greg Sears of Alberta Canola and D’Arcy Hilgartner of Alberta Pulse both emphasized the 2017 crop is at risk.
“With more snowfall predicted this week, the reality is that farmers in certain areas won’t have a viable crop again this year if options aren’t immediately made available to them,” noted Sears.
“Our intent with this meeting is to work with the government to find solutions that ensure last year’s disaster doesn’t put this year’s crop at risk,” added Hilgartner.
AFSC published this information and road map on April 10th for producers who have unharvested acres.