Things to know about Municipal Agriculture Disaster Declarations.
“A common misperception is that a municipal declaration of an agricultural disaster will influence a provincial declaration or access to funding supports. This is simply not the case. Municipal declarations bring awareness to an issue in a specific area of the province, but they do not trigger a provincial declaration or access to any funding to support the issue.
Municipalities can work with their local agriculture industries or industry/producer organizations to communicate concerns and assess challenges being experienced.” Pg.6 RMA Guide for Declaring Municipal Agriculture Disasters.
Municipal Agriculture Disasters are a communication tool to alert Provincial and Federal politicians and staff to agriculture related concerns in a given municipality. A municipality does not need to declare an Agriculture Disaster for their farmers to participate in any resulting federal or provincial programs triggered by extreme weather events like drought or excessive moisture. There are a number of data points that are considered when deciding if a response is needed:
- Agroclimate Impact Reports – These reports are summited through an online form by anyone and add to the data and evidence collected to trigger program support for farmers affected by extreme weather. This is not a well used program by producers and they are always looking for more reporters, especially in the Special Areas part of the province.
- Crop Reports – submitted every two weeks by senior AFSC adjusters report on current growing conditions.
- Weather station Data.
Municipalities can play a role in ensuring that accurate data is collected by encouraging rate papers to become Agroclimate Impact Reporters.
Communicating Municipal Agriculture Disaster Declarations
The Rural Municipalities Association (RMA) has a guide available on their website to help municipalities communicate effectively the concerns around drought and excessive moisture issues. The Guide for Declaring Municipal Agriculture Disasters in Alberta was recently reviewed after the 2021 dry conditions prompted over 40 municipalities to declare. Some changes to the guide were made to better reflect the roll of municipalities in agriculture disaster declarations.
The guide contains an outline of what should be included in the declaration, where to find information, and who to communicate the declaration too. What we learned from the 2021 disaster declarations is that not all of the municipalities communicated the declarations in the same way which made it very difficult to get a clear picture of the extent of the disaster. To help bridge some of the communications gaps, the ASBPC actively looked for and posted a list of municipalities with links to their disaster declarations. This online list was accessed by government, program staff and media, and was very well received.
For this reason the ASBPC recommends the following communication process for all Agriculture Disaster Declarations:
- Letter posted on municipal website
- Letter sent to the Minister of Agriculture Forestry and Rural Economic Development, cc to
- ASBPC email (include link to letter)
- RMA email to the President
- AAAF email to the Secretary
- AFSC email firstname.lastname@example.org