2017 Resolutions

Information Taken from the 2017 Report Card on the Resolutions

Resolution 1-17: Vegetation Management on Alberta Provincial Highways

Resolution 2-17: Ensuring Competition for Seed and Crop Protection Products

Resolution 3-17: Incorporating Agriculture and Agri-Food Education in the Classroom

Resolution E1-17: Carbon Levy Exemption on Natural Gas and Propane for all Recognized Agricultural Production

Resolution E2-17: Agricultural Disaster Policy

Resolution E3-17: Eradication of Bovine Tuberculosis and Brucellosis Prevalent in Bison Within and Surrounding Wood Buffalo National Park

Resolution 1-17: Vegetation Management on Alberta Provincial Highways

WHEREAS: The lack of noxious and prohibited noxious weed control is affecting neighboring landowners, as invasive plants are spreading into their fields;

WHEREAS: Spot spraying vegetation is costlier than blanket spraying vegetation control;

WHEREAS: Landowners adjacent to provincial highways (both two digit and three digit) are faced with increased costs to their vegetation control programs as a result of lack of control along the highways;

WHEREAS: Invasive plants cause significant changes to ecosystems resulting in economic harm to our agricultural and recreational industries. Highway corridors facilitate the spread of invasive plants not just locally, but internationally as well which impacts our neighbors;

WHEREAS: The most cost-effective strategy against invasive species is preventing them from establishing rather than relying on a municipality to identify an infestation and react by issuing a notice. Allowing undesirable plants to grow increases the risk to human health (poisonous plants) and public safety by reducing visibility along road shoulders where wildlife are crossing or grazing;

WHEREAS: Alberta Transportation in the past had the option of signing Service Agreements with each municipality to do invasive plant control, but that option is no longer available in some districts due to some of the highway maintenance contracts;

WHEREAS: With 31,000 kilometers of highway in the province the land base in which it is responsible for weed control within its right-of-way’s is regulated by the Weed Control Act which requires attention and sufficient funds to be able to abide by its own legislation.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT ALBERTA’S AGRICULTURAL SERVICE BOARDS REQUEST the Government of Alberta delivers a more effective maintenance program for vegetation management (weed control and mowing) along the primary and secondary highways in the province.

FURTHER THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT ALBERTA’S AGRICULTURAL SERVICE BOARDS REQUEST the Government of Alberta deliver a more effective vegetation management plan on all primary and secondary highways to control noxious weeds, prohibited noxious weeds and any unsafe vegetation on the full right of way. This plan should include but not be limited to an appropriately timed herbicide application in order to control all legislated weeds and mowing of the full right of way at a time that limits the spread of weed seeds.

FURTHER THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT ALBERTA’S AGRICULTURAL SERVICE BOARDS REQUEST Alberta Transportation gives the option in all districts of the province to enter into Service Agreements with municipalities for weed control.

Status: Provincial

Response

Alberta Agriculture and Forestry
The Weed Control Act defines the regulation of noxious and prohibited noxious weeds, which includes responsibility for weed control along provincial highways. Alberta Agriculture and Forestry communicates that responsibility to all land managers/owners, including government departments that manage land, to ensure regulated weeds are actively controlled and land managers/owners are in compliance with their legislative requirements.

Agriculture and Forestry understands that the Association of Alberta Agricultural Fieldmen discussed concerns regarding weed control along provincial highways with Alberta Transportation at its September 9, 2016 meeting with the AAAF executive, and Transportation has reviewed their management of weed control along highways.

For further information:
• Paul Buryn, Operations Manager, Alberta Transportation, paul.buryn@gov.ab.ca or 780-968-4218 (toll-free by dialing 310-0000 first).

Alberta Environment and Parks
Honourable Brian Mason, Minister of Transportation, will address Resolution 1: Vegetation Management on Alberta Provincial Highways in a separate letter, as this topic falls under the purview of his ministry.

Alberta Transportation
Thank you for your February 1, 2017 letter to Minister Mason regarding the Agricultural Service Board’s Resolution 1: Vegetation Management on Alberta Provincial Highways.
I value the relationship between the Agricultural Service Board and Alberta Transportation, and I share the Board’s wish to collaborate on addressing weed growth in the provincial highway rights-of-way.

In response to stakeholder concerns, Alberta Transportation has restored funding for vegetation control and mowing, starting in spring 2017. Through recent discussions with your association, Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties, and Alberta Transportation, we have worked together to identify a comprehensive and mutually agreeable vegetation management control plan.

  • In the 2017-18 fiscal year, the department is planning:
  • Chemical vegetation control:
    • All class highways: one full right-of-way spray every four years.
    • All class highways: one percent of total hectares reactive spraying for prohibited noxious weeds annually and/or localized noxious weed concerns. Mowing may be completed instead of spraying if appropriate.
  • Mowing:
    • Class 1A highway: one full-width right-of-way cut and one shoulder cut annually.
    • Class 1B highways: one full-width right-of-way cut every four years and one shoulder cut annually.
    • Class 2 and 3 highways: one full-with right-of-way cut every four years and one shoulder cut annually.

In addition to restoring funding for vegetation control and mowing in spring 2017, Alberta Transportation districts will arrange to meet with the respective Agricultural Fieldmen and/or other municipality representatives prior to the growing season to discuss vegetation control plans. The discussion should include the mowing and chemical vegetation control plans and locations of the planned activities; how to manage reactive weed control, including communication between Alberta Transportation and the municipalities; and specific locations where there may be concerns requiring special consideration or that may fall outside the vegetation control guidelines.

Regarding your request for the option of the province entering into service agreements with municipalities for weed control work will be directed through the highway maintenance contractors, with the exception of Special Areas. Work will not be directly contracted with municipalities; however, if the highway maintenance contractor and the municipality are in agreement and approval is granted by Alberta Transportation, the municipality may be able to perform the vegetation management. The chemical vegetation control budget will be provided to Alberta Transportation districts; however, if there is mutual agreement between Alberta Transportation and the Agriculture Fieldmen/municipality, the chemical budget may be used to fund mowing activities.

Should you have any further questions regarding proactive vegetation control along provincial highways, please contact Mr. Paul Buryn, Operations Manager. Mr. Buryn can be reached toll-free at 310-0000, then 780-968-4218, or at paul.buryn@gov.ab.ca.

Grade: Accept in Principle

Comments:
The Committee graded this resolution as “Accept in Principle” as they will be monitoring the implementation of the plan proposed by Alberta Transportation over the next four years. The Committee feels that all government departments need to be doing a better job of complying with the Alberta Weed Control Act. Alberta Agriculture and Forestry need to ensure that other departments, such as Alberta Transportation, are complying with the Weed Control Act in addition to educating them. The Committee strongly encourages Agriculture and Food to develop a strategy for ensuring the Weed Control Act is being complied with by other government departments.

The Committee thanks the Association of Alberta Agricultural Fieldmen (AAAF) and Nicole Kimmel, AF’s Weed Specialist, for the work they have done to educate and work with Transportation ministry staff to develop this plan. AAAF worked extensively with Transportation and AF over the past year to develop an integrated vegetation management plan for Alberta’s primary and secondary highways. This plan encourages timely and appropriate vegetation management along Transportation right of ways to ensure compliance with the Weed Control Act and management of unsafe vegetation.
The Committee appreciates the support that the new Alberta Transportation Deputy Minister, Barry Day, expressed for this plan during their meeting in January 2017 and will continue to meet with Transportation as the plan is implemented to assess its effectiveness. The Committee will continue to work with AAAF, AAMDC and Transportation to monitor and adjust the plan as necessary.

This resolution is related to Resolution 1-16: Proactive Vegetation Management on Alberta Provincial Highways.

Resolution 2-17: Ensuring Competition for Seed and Crop Protection Products

WHEREAS: Global Agribusiness Bayer has offered to purchase another Global Agribusiness, Monsanto;

WHEREAS: A compilation of agriculture statistics indicates that in 2010, 46% of Canola grown in Canada was Liberty Link (Bayer) 47% was Roundup Ready (Monsanto), 6% was Clearfield (BASF). Based on those statistics, seed and the related pesticides sales on approximately 93% of Canola grown in Canada could conceivably belong to a merged Bayer/Monsanto company;

WHEREAS: Competition encourages research, more choices on seed and crop protection products and lower prices, which is better for primary producers as well as consumers;

WHEREAS: Section 90.1 (1) (a) of the Competition Act states: If, on application by the Commissioner, the Tribunal finds that an agreement or arrangement — whether existing or proposed — between persons two or more of whom are competitors prevents or lessens, or is likely to prevent or lessen, competition substantially in a market, the Tribunal may make an order
(a) prohibiting any person — whether or not a party to the agreement or arrangement — from doing anything under the agreement or arrangement.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT ALBERTA’S AGRICULTURAL SERVICE BOARDS REQUEST that Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Administrative Tribunals Support Service of Canada work cooperatively to ensure a merger between Bayer and Monsanto is prevented.

Status: Provincial, Federal

Response

Alberta Agriculture and Forestry
The purchase of Monsanto by Bayer has elicited widespread concern about market consolidation in the canola and crop protection sectors. Section 90.1 of the Government of Canada Competition Act is intended to ensure that competition is not substantially prevented or lessened as a result of mergers or acquisitions, and is aimed at preventing anti-competitive practices in the marketplace.

The federal Competition Bureau has primary jurisdiction over mergers and acquisitions, as it is responsible for the administration and enforcement of the Competition Act. The Competition Bureau usually consults widely with government and industry stakeholders when it conducts its reviews of mergers and acquisitions.
With respect to the Bayer Monsanto merger, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry shares concerns similar to those expressed by the Agriculture Service Board and other industry stakeholders. In October 2016, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry met with Competition Bureau representatives and discussed the potential impact of the Bayer Monsanto merger. Representing industry stakeholders, the Canadian Canola Growers Association has also met with Competition Bureau representatives and is currently preparing a submission to the Competition Bureau, with a focus on the potential impact of the merger on canola producers.

For further information:

  • Darren Chase, Executive Director, Policy, Strategy and Intergovernmental Affairs, darren.chase@gov.ab.ca or 780-417-3338.

Administrative Tribunals Support Service of Canada
I acknowledge receipt of your letter addressed to the Chairperson of the Competition Tribunal dated February 1, 2017 indicating that the ASB Provincial Committee is requesting a response from the Competition Tribunal and/or the Administrative Tribunals Support Service of Canada for your resolution (i.e. Resolution 2: Ensuring the Competition for Seed and Crop Competition Products.)

In addition, on page 2 of your letter, as part of your Resolution 2, it states:

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT ALBERTA’S AGRICULUTURAL SERVICE BOARDS REQUEST that Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Administrative Tribunals Support Service of Canada work cooperatively to ensure a merger between Bayer and Monsanto is prevented.
It is important to provide you with some background information as it relates to: (1) the Competition Tribunal; (2) the Administrative Tribunals Support Service of Canada (the “ATSSC”); and (3) the Commissioner of Competition.

First, the Competition Tribunal is a specialized economic tribunal that adjudicates cases that arise under the civil provisions of the Competition Act (the “Act”) and which are predominantly initiated through a filing of Notice of Application by the Commissioner of Competition.

To be clear, the Competition Tribunal is strictly an adjudicative body that operates independently and at arm’s length from the Government of Canada and its departments, including the Commissioner of Competition. This also applies equally to provincial governments and their respective departments.

Secondly, the ATSSC is the federal department responsible for providing support services to eleven federal administrative tribunals, including the Competition Tribunal. As such, ATSSC-staff provide legal and registry support service to the Competition Tribunal but have no adjudicative or investigatory functions.

Lastly, the Commissioner of Competition is responsible for the administration and enforcement of the Act and carries out such responsibilities and related investigations with the support of the staff at the Competition Bureau.

Therefore, neither the Competition Tribunal nor the ATSSC can be part of the initiative contemplated in your resolution.

Since the Commissioner of Competition is the primary investigator of complaints under the Act, it may be worthwhile for you and your organization to raise your concerns with the Commissioner of Competition using the following link:
http://www.competitionbureau.gc.ca/eic/site/cb-bc.nsf/frm-eng/GH%C3%89T-7SEN3J

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
With respect to Resolution 2 regarding the Bayer-Monsanto merger, under the Competition Act, mergers are reviewed by the Competition Bureau to determine whether they will likely result in a substantial lessening or prevention of competition. The Competition Bureau is an independent agency responsible for the administration and enforcement of the Competition Act.

Generally speaking, as part of its merger review process, the Competition Bureau may contact affected parties, relevant agencies/departments, industry associations, suppliers, etc. to determine the impact of the potential merger. The Competition Bureau also regularly co-operates with other international enforcement partners in order to increase the effectiveness and efficiencies of merger reviews that have international implications. This collaboration also has benefits for the merging parties, creating certainty over legal treatment and expediency of the reviews in numerous jurisdictions.

Given the role of the Competition Bureau and its responsibilities under the Competition Act, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is not in a position to comment on its review of the proposed Bayer-Monsanto merger. For more information on the Competition Bureau and its review process, please refer to its website, at http://www.competitionbureau.gc.ca.

Grade: Incomplete

Comments
This resolution was graded as “Incomplete” as the resolution should have also been sent to the Competition Bureau based on the response received from the Administrative Tribunals Support Service of Canada. The Committee forwarded the resolution in its’ entirety to the Competition Bureau through their website and is monitoring the Competition Bureau website for any decision made regarding this merger.

Resolution 3-17: Incorporating Agriculture and Agri-Food Education in the Classroom

WHEREAS: Alberta Education is currently reviewing the Alberta school curriculum;

WHEREAS: Education about agriculture is limited within the current school curriculum;

WHEREAS: The Classroom Agricultural Program is only able to spend one hour with grade 4 students;

WHEREAS: Consumer interest of how agriculture production is achieved, and food is produced is increasing;

WHEREAS: Less than 2% of the population have a direct role in primary agriculture production, people have a less direct experience with growing their own food or participating in the agriculture industry;

WHEREAS: The availability of incorrect or incomplete information on the agriculture and agri-food industry is increasing;

WHEREAS: Consumer purchases can be influenced by the amount and quality of agriculture and agri-food awareness and education they have received.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT ALBERTA’S AGRICULTURAL SERVICE BOARDS REQUEST that the Minister of Education, during the pending review of the Alberta School Curriculum, include agriculture and agri-food and its importance to Canadians as part of the new curriculum at elementary, junior high and high school levels.

FURTHER THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT ALBERTA’S AGRICULTURAL SERVICE BOARDS REQUEST that Alberta Education and Alberta Agriculture and Forestry increase the amount of time spent in the school curriculum to discuss food and agriculture.

FURTHER THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT ALBERTA’S AGRICULTURAL SERVICE BOARDS REQUEST that Alberta Education and Alberta Agriculture and Forestry create a panel of Agricultural and Nutrition experts to create the curriculum that will be taught in Alberta classrooms.

Status: Provincial

Response

Alberta Agriculture and Forestry

There are currently several entry points for agriculture to be integrated into the Alberta school curriculum. Alberta offers the Green Certificate program for high school students, whereby students can gain industry certification while earning high school credits in a variety of agriculture areas including cow/calf operations, equine, pig, greenhouse, and field crops. This program is unique in Canada and serves as a model for other provinces like Saskatchewan.

Through the Career and Technology stream of courses, about 30 different agriculture courses are offered, six of which can be taken through distance education. This is also unique in Canada. These courses are not part of the curriculum development process currently underway and are not slated for significant changes.

In core subjects, there are also currently several entry-points for agriculture to be integrated in the curriculum. Grade 2 Science has a unit on small flying and crawling creatures, where teachers may choose to focus on composting and the role worms play in soil health. Grade 4 has a strong focus on both plants in science, and agriculture as part of Alberta’s culture and history. Alberta’s Grade 7 Science unit, Plants for Food and Fibre, is another excellent entry point to teach about modern agriculture. Finally, Health in all grades provides opportunities to discuss healthy eating, and many teachers integrate school gardening and discussions about agriculture into health. In high school, agriculture can be used as an example to support topics like globalization, genetics, and climate change.

One of the best ways to ensure agriculture is brought to life for students in the existing and future curriculum is for external organizations to offer high quality curricular-linked agriculture programs and resources that meet teacher needs. Classroom Agriculture Program is one such program. There are also many other programs and resources available from groups like Agriculture for Life, Inside Education, Agriculture in the Classroom, The Reynolds Museum, Stony Plain Multicultural Heritage Centre, Northlands, Calgary Stampede, and the many commodity groups. Industry support for these programs is essential for them to continue and to expand.

Agriculture Service Boards can review Alberta Education’s opportunities for the public to engage in the curriculum development process. As the new curriculum is rolled out in classrooms, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry’s agriculture education consultant is able to work with industry groups to create and adapt programs to ensure they align with the new curriculum.

For further information:

Alberta Education

Thank you for your February 1, 2017 letter regarding the resolution made by the Agricultural Service Board Provincial Committee to incorporate agriculture and agri-food education in future curriculum.

Our government is committed to ensuring that all students are provided with an education that enriches their lives and prepares them for success. Alberta students deserve the best education we can deliver, and we will strive to ensure our education system is one we can be proud of.

Agriculture is a vitally important industry in Alberta, and there are many opportunities for students to learn about agriculture in our current Science and Social Studies programs of study. Students may also learn about agriculture through optional programming in Career and Technology Foundations, Career and Technology Studies, and Green Certificate and Dual Credit programs.

As you know, our government is looking ahead to the future and working to ensure that provincial curriculum continues to give all students the best possible start in life and enables them to meet the demands of living in the 21st century. We are working to create new Kindergarten to Grade 12 (K-12) provincial curriculum in six subject areas over the next six years: Language Arts (English, French, Francais), Mathematics, Social Studies, Sciences, Arts and Wellness Education. This will allow us to build better connections across subjects.

A number of other education stakeholders are involved in the process, including the Alberta Teachers’ Association, the Alberta School Boards Association, the College of Alberta School Superintendents, the Association of Alberta Deans of Education and the Alberta School Councils’ Association. We are also seeking input throughout the development process from a broad range of Albertans with an interest in K-12 education, including teachers, post-secondary institution professors and instructors, parents, and representatives from business and industry.

Curriculum Working Groups have been established to develop draft provincial curriculum content for Alberta Education’s consideration. School authorities and post-secondary institutions in Alberta were invited to nominate staff with expertise within subjects and across grades. These groups are currently in the process of drafting a subject introduction and a scope and sequence in each subject area.

As part of the many opportunities for Albertans to provide input into our provincial curriculum development work, Alberta Education posted on its website an opportunity for non-profit organizations to make 15-minute presentations to one or more working groups of their choice. We are pleased that 39 non-profit organizations responded to this opportunity and made presentations on topics of interest related to future curriculum content development.

Opportunities for future involvement will continue to be posted on the Alberta Education website at http://www.education.alberta.ca/curriculum-development. Should you wish to meet directly with Education ministry staff to discuss opportunities for agriculture and agri-food in future curriculum, you may contact Caroline Nixon, Senior Manager, K-12 Sciences and Biology, by phone at 780-422-3219 (toll-free in Alberta by first dialing 310-0000) or by email at caroline.nixon@gov.ab.ca.

Thank you for writing to express your interest in the curriculum development process. I encourage you and your board members to participate in the opportunities being made available for all Albertans to contribute to this important work.

Grade: Incomplete

Comments

The Committee graded this resolution as “Incomplete” as the responses didn’t answer the questions posed regarding amount of time dedicated to agriculture in the curriculum or setting up a panel of agricultural and nutrition experts to consult on the curriculum.

The Committee is seeking a meeting with the Minister of Alberta Education to discuss this resolution with him. In addition, the Committee is planning to work with Karen Carle, Agriculture Education Consultant with Agriculture and Forestry, and Luree Williamson from Ag for Life to move forward on this resolution. Ms. Carle and Ms. Williamson met with the Committee in March 2017 and helped the Committee gain a better understanding of how the curriculum works and opportunities for incorporating more agriculture into the curriculum. The Committee feels that working with these organizations will provide greater synergy to meet the requests of this resolution as Ms. Carle and Ms. Williamson have already been working with Alberta Education to integrate agriculture into the curriculum. The Committee will request their assistance to develop an expert panel to review and create agriculture resources for teachers for the Alberta curriculum.

The Committee appreciates the support shown by the provincial and federal government to support additional agriculture education through funding announcements made in June 2017. The province has committed up to $400,000 annually to cover course fees for the Green Certificate program and the federal government announced a $568,000 one year commitment to support Agriculture in the Classroom Canada. These programs both assist with educating students about agriculture and career opportunities within the agriculture sector in schools. The funding for Ag in the Classroom Canada will fund projects such as creating an online searchable tool for teachers to find curriculum linked material on agriculture and food, an online library of one page information sheets for teachers on hot topics called Snap Ag and introducing students to careers related to the agriculture sector. The funding for the Green Certificate program will cover course fees for students enrolled in the program.

Resolution E1-17: Carbon Levy Exemption on Natural Gas and Propane for All Recognized Agricultural Production

WHEREAS: the Climate Leadership Implementation Act effective January 1, 2017 states that every recipient shall pay a carbon levy on purchases of natural gas and propane;

WHEREAS: As purchasers, farmers cannot pass the additional cost of a carbon tax on to consumers or the international market;

WHEREAS: Grain dryers that have natural gas meters and separate propane tanks for drying can be easily accounted for in their use by the retailer;

WHEREAS: Farmers who don’t dry their own grain use the grain elevators who offer grain drying as a service and should not be penalized with a carbon levy;

WHEREAS: Programs are in place through the Climate Leadership Plan to help farm operations reduce their emissions through efficiency upgrades, but they do not apply to grain dryers;

WHEREAS: Farmers are exempt on marked fuel by way of the carbon levy exemption certificate;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT ALBERTA’S AGRICULTURAL SERVICE BOARDS REQUEST that the Government of Alberta provide farmers and grain elevators with a carbon levy exemption certificate on natural gas and propane for all recognized agricultural production.

Status: Provincial

Response

Alberta Environment and Parks

Farmers must currently pay the appropriate carbon levy rate for any purchases of natural gas or propane which are not covered by any of the exemptions listed in Part 1, Division 1, Section 8(4) or Part 1, Division 3, Section 15(1) of Bill 20 Climate Leadership Implementation Act, respectively.

There are several existing Government of Alberta initiatives and programs offered through Energy Efficiency Alberta (www.efficiencyalberta.ca) and Agriculture and Forestry (www.agric.gov.ab.ca) which would apply to grain drying, in addition to those noted in the resolution’s background information:

  • Through the Alberta Farm Fuel Benefit program, eligible farmers are fully exempt from the provincial fuel tax (not the carbon levy) on propane used for farming purposes (See www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/general/progserv.nsf/All/pgmsrv9).

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT ALBERTA’S AGRICULTURAL SERVICE BOARDS REQUEST that the Government of Alberta provide farmers and grain elevators with a carbon levy exemption certificate on natural gas and propane for all recognized agricultural production.

Status: Provincial

Response

Alberta Environment and Parks

Farmers must currently pay the appropriate carbon levy rate for any purchases of natural gas or propane which are not covered by any of the exemptions listed in Part 1, Division 1, Section 8(4) or Part 1, Division 3, Section 15(1) of Bill 20 Climate Leadership Implementation Act, respectively.

There are several existing Government of Alberta initiatives and programs offered through Energy Efficiency Alberta (www.efficiencyalberta.ca) and Agriculture and Forestry (www.agric.gov.ab.ca) which would apply to grain drying, in addition to those noted in the resolution’s background information:

  • Through the Alberta Farm Fuel Benefit program, eligible farmers are fully exempt from the provincial fuel tax (not the carbon levy) on propane used for farming purposes (See www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/general/progserv.nsf/All/pgmsrv9).

A grade of “Accept the Response” was assigned to this resolution as the Committee felt that it was answered in its’ entirety.

The response outlined that there are several programs available to producers and small business to offset the costs of the carbon levy. Producers are encouraged to look into these programs.

Resolution E2-17: Agricultural Disaster Policy

DEFEATED AT THE 2017 ASB PROVINCIAL CONFERENCE

WHEREAS: Counties, municipalities, and the Province declared an Agricultural Disaster after the North West Regional Agricultural Service Board Conference, therefore this resolution was not developed;

WHEREAS: When a natural disaster with extreme moisture* or drought conditions occurs, it has been proven that the impact can be as significant as other more dramatic disasters;

WHEREAS: Although crop insurance provided by Agriculture Financial Services Corporation (AFSC) does cover short falls in crop production it does not cover the extreme situation of total crop loss to weather conditions;

WHEREAS: Other natural disaster occurrences have had disaster relief funding from the Provincial and the Federal government;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT ALBERTA’S AGRICULTURAL SERVICE BOARD REQUEST that Alberta Agriculture and Forestry create an agricultural disaster policy that will allocate funding from provincial and federal governments to be accessed in addition to the existing programs by producers in the event of an agricultural disaster.

Resolution E3-17: Eradication of Bovine Tuberculosis and Brucellosis Prevalent in Bison Within and Surrounding Wood Buffalo National Park

WHEREAS: Nationally, wood bison are listed as Threatened under Schedule 1 of the Federal Species at Risk Act, and designated as of Special Concern by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). In Alberta, only free-roaming wood bison that occur within Alberta’s Wood Bison Protection Area (West of Highway 35, North of the Chinchaga River and Keg River Metis Settlement) are considered endangered wildlife; and as such are recognized and protected under Alberta’s Wildlife Act;

WHEREAS: The inability of Alberta to formally protect all other free-roaming wood bison (East of Highway 35, North, Northeast and Southeast of Fort Vermilion) under the Provincial Wildlife Act leaves; these animals vulnerable to year-round unregulated hunting, successful hunters at risk of harvesting wildlife with Zoonotic diseases, and other wildlife and livestock at risk of contracting the diseases;

WHEREAS: The recently released draft Federal Recovery Strategy for the Wood Bison (2016) states the greatest threat to wood bison recovery is the prevalence of bovine tuberculosis and brucellosis;

WHEREAS: At the end of October 2016, at least thirty ranches in Southeastern Alberta were put under quarantine after the discovery of a single case of bovine tuberculosis. Thus leaving producers unable to sell their animals and fearful that their income for the year may evaporate;

WHEREAS: On January 5, 2017 the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) released a statement confirming that 50 premises are currently under quarantine and movement controls, affecting approximately 26,000 cattle, with an additional 10,000 cattle set to be tested and destroyed at 18 of those properties;

WHEREAS: Mackenzie County is located within direct proximity of Wood Buffalo National Park; thus the risk of diseased free-roaming wood bison transmitting bovine tuberculosis and brucellosis to domestic livestock is of immediate concern to all local beef producers;

WHEREAS: The Government of Alberta (GOA) continues an annual regulated hunt of the disease-free Hay-Zama local population; designed to contain this disease-free herd to the Wood Bison Protection Area, with the goal of maintaining a population size of 400 – 600 animals;

WHEREAS: A population survey conducted in February 2016, found 625 wood bison belonging to the Hay-Zama herd; sufficient enough to continue the hunt and increase license numbers. As such, the GOA has issued 250 Aboriginal licenses and 125 non-Aboriginal licenses provincially for the 2016/17 Hay-Zama wood bison hunting season;

WHEREAS: Any wood bison sighted travelling West of Wood Buffalo National Park, towards the Wood Bison Protection Area; is presumed diseased and therefore destroyed as a precautionary measure, in order to maintain the disease-free status of Alberta’s only verified disease-free local population;

WHEREAS: The Alberta First Nations Food Security Strategy, released January 2015, found that efforts to increase northern Aboriginal food security; fundamentally include the restoration and increase of sovereignty over local food systems, improved access to local food, including hunting of culturally traditional wildlife such as buffalo;

WHEREAS: In 1990, a Federal Environment Assessment Panel recommended completely eradicating all bison from Wood Buffalo National Park, followed by restocking with disease-free animals;

WHEREAS: In 2016, Environment and Climate Change Canada acknowledge that, at present, the only effective tool to successfully eradicate the threat of bovine tuberculosis and brucellosis from within and surrounding Wood Buffalo National Park is by depopulation;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT ALBERTA’S AGRICULTURAL SERVICE BOARDS REQUEST that Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, and Parks Canada; to support the depopulation of diseased wood bison as the only effective tool to successfully eradicate the threat of bovine tuberculosis and brucellosis from within and surrounding Wood Buffalo National Park.

FURTHER THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT ALBERTA’S AGRICULTURAL SERVICE BOARDS urge Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, and Parks Canada; to develop an effective measureable plan to successfully eradicate all diseased bison from within and surrounding Wood Buffalo National Park. In order to prevent further disease outbreaks Province-wide; that would inevitably have adverse effects for the National, Provincial and local domestic cattle and beef industries.

Status: Provincial, Federal

Response

Alberta Agriculture and Forestry

This resolution has identified several key factors that highlight the importance of this issue and the need to eliminate the risk of these diseases spreading from this population. While there is no known link between disease in this northern bison population and the recent detection in Southern Alberta, the current TB investigation in cattle in Southern Alberta has reminded us of the time and resources required for investigations into livestock cases.

We have recently seen progress around Manitoba’s Riding Mountain National Park, which may provide valuable insight for future direction with Woof Buffalo National Park. With that said, Manitoba is faced with a much lower prevalence of disease in the wild population, but also a much smaller buffer, and therefore, greater interaction between wildlife and livestock.

Alberta Agriculture and Forestry sees this as an important issue that requires input from a broad range of stakeholders with varying perspectives. In the meantime, there are ongoing surveillance efforts in the area to closely monitor the situation and any potential risks for livestock.

For further information: Dr. Keith Lehman, Chief Provincial Veterinarian, keith.lehman@gov.ab.ca or 780-427-3448.

Alberta Environment and Parks

Alberta is working with the federal government and the Northwest Territories to develop a strategy to eliminate the risk of disease transmission from these bison. This strategy will be developed through a collaborative, consensus-based approach, engaging with indigenous communities and relevant stakeholders. The draft terms of reference for the committee are currently being reviewed by the Canadian Wildlife Directors Committee.

As noted in the resolution’s description, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency conducted a risk assessment of the potential transmission of bovine tuberculosis and brucellosis from Wood Buffalo National Park bison to the cattle industry. This assessment concluded that the risk was insignificant, and as such, the prospect of implementing a costly and socially unsupported eradication program is less likely.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

With respect to Resolution 3, I understand the concern about diseased bison in and around Wood Buffalo National Park. As you know, achieving a long-term solution to this issue will be difficult and will require a significant commitment by all stakeholders, including Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, Alberta Environment and Parks, and Parks Canada. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) remains supportive of activities that will mitigate the risk posed by a wildlife reservoir of bovine tuberculosis and brucellosis. However, in light of the low degree of risk to livestock, the CFIA’s involvement is limited to supporting other lead federal, provincial, and territorial partners by providing veterinary advice/expertise and diagnostic laboratory testing, as required.

Environment and Climate Change Canada

Thank you for your correspondence of February 1, 2017, regarding the Agricultural Service Board Provincial Committee’s recent resolution with respect to the eradication of bovine tuberculosis and brucellosis prevalent in bison within and surrounding Wood Buffalo National Park of Canada.

I understand your concern with regard to the potential for transmission of bovine tuberculosis and brucellosis from herds in and around the Park to disease-free wood bison and cattle herds in neighbouring agricultural areas, particularly given the recent detection of bovine tuberculosis in cattle in southern Alberta and Saskatchewan.

While depopulation of diseased bison herds has been proposed as a solution in the past, it has never received widespread support from all stakeholders and governments. Finding a permanent solution to this issue remains a challenge due to the need to recover wood bison—a threatened species with major cultural significance to Indigenous Peoples and Canadians in general—as well as the need to maintain the ecological integrity of its habitat in Wood Buffalo National Park, while reducing the risk of disease transmission to neighbouring disease-free bison and cattle. I am encouraged to see ongoing co-operation between the federal government and the provinces of Alberta and the Northwest Territories as they explore a full range of options for the development of a long-term solution to the issue.

I anticipate that recent undertakings, including a review of the effectiveness of the buffer zone between Wood Buffalo National Park and the Mackenzie Bison Sanctuary, as well as work by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to quantify the risk of disease transmission, will help to inform this process in the management of the issue. One key remaining priority is to ensure the early and full engagement of concerned Indigenous groups in the context of federal and provincial commitments to a renewed relationship with Indigenous Peoples.

For further discussion on this matter, please contact Mr. Jonah Mitchell, Field Unit Superintendent, Southwest Northwest Territories, Parks Canada, at Jonah.mitchell@pc.gc.ca or by telephone at 867-872-7943, and Mr. Gilles Seutin, Chief Ecosystem Scientist, Parks Canada, at gilles.seutin@pc.gc.ca or by telephone at 819-420-9269.

Grade: Unsatisfactory

Comments

The Committee felt the responses were focused on this issue from the perspective of the bison and did not account for the impact these diseases could have on the cattle industry.

The Committee discussed this with the Minister at their July meeting and obtained a copy of the strategy referred to in the response regarding management of these animals. This can be found at: https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/nt/woodbuffalo/info/plan/plan1

The Committee has contacted Alberta Beef Producers to see if they have a position on this issue and to potentially work with them to advocate for better protection of cattle from transmission of Tuberculosis (TB) from infected bison in that region. Lastly, the Committee has contacted Parks Canada to make them aware of our concern and to ask for a strategy to be developed that better protects cattle in that region. The Committee will update the ASB members as information is received from these organizations.