North Alberta farmers face mother nature's wrath
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North Alberta farmers face mother nature's wrath

In the 40 years Leonard Boychuk has been farming his family land near Brosseau, he has never had to leave so many crops in the field.

Of his 1,000 acres of canola, oats and barley, more than half still sits there, the land simply too soggy to harvest.

Rains descended on he and his wife Claudia's farm in September. It turned into dumps of snow over the winter, which continued through early spring.

Like many of their neighbours, the Boychuk's crops are a write-off, but they've been unable to secure their full insurance payout from Alberta's Agriculture Financial Services Corporation (AFSC).

"We're fortunate because we've got cattle to sustain us, but a lot of the larger farms, that's it — they're done. They're not seeding," Claudia says.

The Boychuks got about a quarter of their insurance, but obtaining the rest has them in a classic Catch-22.

Unless an AFSC inspector comes by, crops can only be written off after they've been harvested and rejected from two grain elevators. Problem is, the fields are too wet to harvest and there are only 120 inspectors in the entire province.

To add to the pressure, farmers have until April 30 to let AFSC know what insurance they want for the upcoming year. But if producers can't get rid of the crops, they can't seed.

"The blood pressure's high, that's for sure," Leonard says.

The couple wants the provincial government to change AFSC regulations, so the Crown corporation can write off crops in the band of the province that has seen rough weather and farmers can get on with seeding.

Their MLA Dave Hanson brought the dilemma to the legislature last week.

It's not just the Boychuks facing this situation, he says, it's producers all across his Lac La Biche-St. Paul-Two Hills constituency.

Agriculture Minister ONeil Carlier hopes Mother Nature cooperates, but doesn't see government bending the rules.

"That would be pretty difficult to do ... (because) it’s going to be case by case, farmer by farmer, field by field," he says.

"There are so many variables in the mix."

Carlier says he's confident in AFSC's work, but has asked the interim chair to formulate a contingency plan "in case things do go off the rails."

egraney@postmedia.com

twitter.com/EmmaLGraney 

source : Calgary SUN
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