Farmers grazing ditches

Some Red Deer County pasture land is so dry it may not recover this year, said a county councillor on Tuesday.

A contracted mower stops cutting the Hwy 42 ditch near Pine Lake after taking a phone call from his Red Deer County supervisor. The county passed a policy this week to stop mowing its road rights-of-way so cattle producers can use the grass

A contracted mower stops cutting the Hwy 42 ditch near Pine Lake after taking a phone call from his Red Deer County supervisor. The county passed a policy this week to stop mowing its road rights-of-way so cattle producers can use the grass

Some Red Deer County pasture land is so dry it may not recover this year, said a county councillor on Tuesday.

“I don’t see much light at the end of the tunnel,” said Councillor Jim Wood, who farms in the Elnora area in the east end of the county. “Even if it does rain, some of these crops are beyond coming back.

Wood said the further east you travel, the drier it gets. His farm has only seen one-10th an inch of rain this spring, he said.

The dry spell comes at a bad time. Pasture and hay crops rely on spring moisture to kick-start growth. If the rain doesn’t come, crops can become dormant and then the growth may never come back before the season ends.

“There are areas in our county right now where there is absolutely no pasture growing.”

Wood said some counties have already declared themselves disaster areas, and Red Deer County should consider it.

Wood plans to raise the issue at the next meeting of the county’s agriculture services board. The board will be encouraged to recommend that the county, or at least a portion of it, be declared a disaster area.

For farmers, the designation provides some tax relief if they are required to sell off herds because they can’t afford to feed them.

To give farmers a hand, county council unanimously passed a measure to allow farmers to use ditches next to county roads to graze cattle.

Frank Peck, county director of operations, said a similar move was made during the drought in 2002.

“We have some excellent growth along our rural roads,” he said.

The county does not intend to cut the grass in its 2,600 km of ditches this year to allow local farmers to make use of it.

Farmers who want to graze along rural roads must make a written request beforehand outlining where their animals will be and for how long.

The county will supply warnings signs. For the first time, a $100 deposit will be required for each sign to ensure they are returned. No deposit was required the last time and none of the signs were ever returned.

Peck said if cows are left to free graze, farmers should ensure they have flag people out to warn drivers. Livestock can also be tethered or enclosed in an electric fence.

County staff will meet with each producer on site to review sight lines, terrain, local traffic and proposed grazing procedures before livestock will be allowed on the right-of-way.

If the rain comes and the roadside grazing isn’t needed, the county will start mowing again.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Lyn Radford, 2019 Canada Winter Games board chair, was named 2020 Sport Event Volunteer of the Year at the Prestige Awards. (File photo by Advocate staff)
WATCH: Lyn Radford wins award for volunteer efforts

The board chair of the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer… Continue reading

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Red Deer dips below 300 active COVID-19 cases

The number of active COVID-19 cases in Red Deer continued to drop… Continue reading

A candlelight vigil will be held in Red Deer on Thursday to honour the 350-plus people killed in the Easter bombing attack in Sri Lanka. Contributed photo
Candlelight vigil planned for deaths linked to Olymel COVID-19 outbreak

A candlelight vigil is being planned for those who died due to… Continue reading

Red Deer Rebels forward Jaxsen Wiebe battles Calgary Hitmen forward Cael Zimmerman for a loose puck when the two teams squared off in February last season. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Calgary Hitmen shutout Red Deer Rebels

Rebels name centre Jayden Grubbe team captain ahead of Friday’s game

Bryson, six, and Mara, eight, play with puppies from Dogs With Wings Saturday. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
WATCH: Dogs With Wings introduces Red Deer program

A program that trains puppies to be certified service, autism, facility and… Continue reading

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, January 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Funeral for Walter Gretzky to be held Saturday in home town of Brantford, Ont.

The funeral for hockey legend Wayne Gretzky’s father Walter will take place… Continue reading

A sign for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service building is shown in Ottawa on May 14, 2013. A newly released audit report shows that difficulties with the judicial warrant process at Canada's spy agency — an issue that made headlines last summer — stretch back at least nine years. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Spy warrant shortcomings stretch back almost a decade, newly released audit shows

OTTAWA — A newly released audit report shows that difficulties with the… Continue reading

In this file photo, a lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018. (By THE CANADIAN PRESS)
No winning ticket for Friday night’s Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the estimated $29 million… Continue reading

A trial countdown sign marks the days at George Floyd Square, March 4, 2021, in Minneapolis. Ten months after police officers brushed off George Floyd's moans for help on the street outside a south Minneapolis grocery, the square remains a makeshift memorial for Floyd who died at the hand of police making an arrest. The trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin will begin with jury selection on March 8. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Officer’s trial could reopen intersection where Floyd died

MINNEAPOLIS — During a group’s recent meeting at the now-vacant Speedway gas… Continue reading

FILE - In this Aug. 30, 2020 file photo Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell calls for an end to violence in the city during a news conference a day after a demonstrator was shot and killed in downtown Portland. Amid protests following the police killing of George Floyd last year Portland dissolved a special police unit designed to focus on gun violence. Critics say the squad unfairly targeted Black people, but gun violence and homicides have since spiked in Oregon's largest city, and some say disbanding the 35-officer unit was a mistake. (Sean Meagher/The Oregonian via AP, File)
As violence surges, some question Portland axing police unit

PORTLAND, Ore. — Elmer Yarborough got a terrifying call from his sister:… Continue reading

Harley Hay
Harley Hay: Just don’t call it cod liver oil

Many people swear that a daily dose of various vitamins is an… Continue reading

Email editor@auburn-reporter.com
Letter: Preserving green spaces in Red Deer

The Advocate published an article Feb. 11 about Sunnybrook residents concerned about… Continue reading

Former Toronto Argonauts lineman Chris Schultz remembered as a gentle giant

Former Toronto Argonauts lineman Chris Schultz remembered as a gentle giant

Most Read