The Provincial ASB Committee met March 18, 2019 at the J.G. O’Donoghue building. Items discussed at the meeting were as follows:
Agriculture and Forestry (AF) Program Updates
ASB Program Review
There was a high level of participation in the online survey and Face to Face sessions for the ASB Program Review. Information gathered from these sessions will be presented to the Steering Committee in May and recommendations to the Minister in June.
A new appeal process has been developed and a pilot program will be conducted this year to test the it. The process will involve an in person hearing before a lawyer appointed by Agriculture and Forestry to adjudicate the process. Agriculture and Forestry felt that having an adjudicator to do an in person hearing would speed up the appeal process. The pilot program is only for the Weed Control Act but if the process is successful it will be implemented for appeals under the Agricultural Pests Act.
Chief Plant Health Inspection Officer
AF has created a new position similar to the Chief Provincial Veterinarian for plant health. Krista Zuzak has been appointed to the Chief Plant Health Inspection Officer position and will be responsible for overseeing the Weed Control Act and Agricultural Pests Act.
The Provincial ASB Committee has requested to increase the budget for the Committee to $10,000. The Committee is trying to increase the profile of ASBs in the province and felt that an increase in budget was necessary to provide funding for promotional items, such as banners for trade shows. AAAF reviewed this request and will set aside $10,000 for Committee expenses related to hosting and promotional items.
The Committee also requested permanent funding from Agriculture and Forestry (AF) for the Executive Assistant (EA) position. AF has extended funding for this position until March 2022. This is an extension of two years..
Promotion of ASBs
The Provincial ASB Committee set a goal that they need to work to increase the profile of ASBs in the province. The ASBs discussed several ways to promote ASBs, including setting up a WordPress site to host information for ASBs and working with AAAF to attend various tradeshows. The Committee discussed the need for promotional items such as a tradeshow banner, postcards and other items. Budget has been set aside for promotional items and work has started with AAAF to determine which tradeshows would have the most impact for ASBs and AAAF.
The Provincial ASB Committee sent a letter with copies of the resolutions to all provincial organizations in the province. To date, Alberta Farm Animal Care, Alberta Seed Processors and Alberta Agri-Environmental Partnership have expressed interest in working with ASBs. Alberta Farm Animal Care has expressed particular interest in resolution E1-19 for establishing a Mental Health Crisis Line for agricultural producers and the Committee will work with them to accomplish this goal.
The Committee discussed developing a list of questions that could be asked to candidates in the provincial election to gauge their understanding of issues related to ASBs.
Other Meetings Attended
Corey and Sebastien met with Canada Food Inspection Agency and AF to discuss how ASBs and AF work together to address weed, pest and animal disease issues when they arise. Corey and Sebastien felt that CFIA left with a better understanding of how ASBs can assist when a federally notifiable disease or pest is reported.
The Committee also attended the Alberta Clubroot Management Meeting. The Alberta Clubroot Management Plan will be changed to recommend a 1 in 3 rotation if clubroot resistant varieties are included in the rotation. The Committee reinforced to the members of the Clubroot Management Committee that municipalities have authority to require longer rotations under a pest notice.
The Committee received responses to resolutions sent to AF. The Committee will review the responses when all the responses are received. The Committee is planning to have a conference call on April 30th to discuss the resolution responses.
Jamie Curran, AF Assistant Deputy Minister, held a short conference call with some members of the Committee after the regular Committee meeting regarding Fusarium graminearum (Fg). The Minister sent a letter to the members of the Fusarium Round Table with a decision stating the AF would be starting to enable research for Fg in the province. Research providers and commodity groups could apply to the Minister to conduct trials for new seed varieties with more Fg tolerance or to seed varieties that contained low levels of Fg in the seed as part of a trial. Mr. Curran indicated that municipalities would be consulted before research would be allowed and this program was not for companies to grow commercial quantities of seed.