• linda9729

Take action on dry conditions

Updated: Apr 19

Alberta Farmers are encouraged to report on the impact of dry conditions.

There is very little to be done when the weather doesn't cooperate. It is a reality that all farmers face and know well and something that sets the industry apart. However there are some things that you can do to impact the roll out of supports from the various levels of government.

Municipalities across the province are declaring Agricultural Disasters due to the dry conditions. As of 4pm on July 30, there were 20 out of the possible 69 rural municipalities declaring agricultural disasters and more are expected after the long weekend. This is a first step to getting the conversations started with governments and insurance programs. Updates on the municipalities declaring agricultural disasters and links to resources for farmers and municipalities dealing with the dry conditions can be found on the Agricultural Service Board website.

Farmers in Alberta can influence the government response, particularly the locations receiving supports by participating in the Agroclimate Impact Reporting collected by Alberta Climate Information Service (ACIS). The report takes about 5 minutes and is set up as a multiple choice questionnaire with a place to add details at the end. It can be done on a mobile device or from a home computer. ACIS is an Alberta Government initiative that maintains a network of over 350 meteorological stations across the province, something unheard of in other provinces. Many of the stations have collected data long enough to be verified and approved to contribute data to Environment Canada's system, giving Alberta farmers and agricultural professions the best access to meteorological data in Canada.

Dry conditions remind us how little control there is over farming outcomes. Chronic stress and anxiety are reality for many farm families as research in Canada is showing. As research continues to build awareness to the current state of mental health affecting farmers, government reports are calling for response.

This year ARECA, with funding from the Alberta Government will be working with existing services to coordinate and streamline the supports for Alberta Farmers though the building of a Farm Mental Health Network. Instead of reinventing the wheel and developing something brand new, ARECA has reached out to the not for profit and government service providers to facilitate a coordinated approach to an Alberta specific response. Looking at what is being done in other provinces to address this important issue, reaching out to those that are addressing the issue now, and identifying gaps in services or resources and looking for ways to fill them.

Updates on this initiative will be posted as a blog that can be shared and subscribed too. Resources will be compiled and linked to the Farm Mental Health page on the ARECA website and anyone interested is encouraged to submit your email address for email updates. We will also be providing updates through our steering committee which includes the Alberta Rural Mental Health Network maintained by Canadian Mental Health Association. For more information feel free to connect with our project coordinator Linda Hunt at linda@areca.ca.

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