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April 27, 2017

Minister’s dithering on unharvested crops starting to hurt farmers: Schneider

The NDP government’s ongoing mismanagement of Agriculture Financial Services Corporation (AFSC) has meant constant delays and economic hardship for farmers across Alberta who have the potential to lose over 960,000 acres of harvestable cropland, the Wildrose Official Opposition said today.

Despite months of warnings and questions from Wildrose, it wasn’t until yesterday that Agriculture Minister Oneil Carlier announced plans to begin streamlining inspection procedures. Right now, there are approximately 120 AFSC crop adjusters for the entire province. Wildrose MLAs first warned the government about the possibility of this happening back in October during Question Period.

Wildrose Shadow Agriculture & Forestry Minister Dave Schneider said with the board of directors being empty for over eleven months, the minister is in charge and needs to start delivering meaningful results for farmers.

“Farmers can’t wait weeks for adjusters to show up to determine their losses as it only begins to put seeding for the next crop at risk,” Schneider said. “With Alberta having a very wet April with late snowfalls and seasonal road bans now on, it makes the challenge of recovering the harvest from last fall even more daunting. It’s time for the minister to instruct AFSC to get these assessments done now and if necessary, begin doing blanket assessments for the hardest hit regions and start getting help for those most impacted.”

Schneider questioned Carlier about the challenges facing farmers across the province about how to best manage their unharvested crops with Carlier saying he believes AFSC was doing a “bang-up job.” Several farmers have been instructed to pay their premiums before receiving their payouts.

Wildrose Shadow Emergency Response & Disaster Preparedness Minister David Hanson asked Carlier over a week ago to begin instructing AFSC to improve their operations.

“The clock has been ticking for weeks and farmers across the province cannot wait any longer for the minister to act,” Hanson said. “Farmers cannot afford for the losses of these unharvested crops to go into another season. They shouldn’t be punished because the AFSC hasn’t done its job fast enough. It’s been over three weeks since Wildrose MLAs met with the minister and AFSC staff to discuss this issue, and little progress has been made.”