Red Deer County is looking for direction from Alberta Agriculture and Forestry on when to declare an agriculture emergency.
Several Alberta municipalities, including the County of Stettler, have declared agricultural emergencies because of drought.
However, members of Red Deer County’s council said it is not clear what the criteria or the purpose are for declaring agricultural emergencies.
Mayor Jim Wood said it is not the first time the municipality has wrestled with whether to declare a disaster.
“This has always been a hard one to determine,” he said on Tuesday. “And we’ve seen this in the past.”
The county is not sure if the purpose of a disaster declaration is to ensure Agriculture and Forestry Minister Devin Dreeshen is aware of how dire the situation is, or whether it opens the door to receiving funding help that might not otherwise be available.
If a declaration is necessary to get extra funding, the minister should make that clear, said Wood.
Coun. Richard Lorenz agreed the county should write to Alberta Agriculture to get clarification.
Complicating the situation is that conditions can vary greatly across the large county. Some areas were hit hard by hail earlier in the summer, others are facing drought, while others are faring relatively well, Lorenz said.
“I know the further east you go the worse it is. Is it a disaster compared to some of those other municipalities? I don’t think so.
“I guess I would like to hear from the minister. There are areas that could fall under that (disaster declaration) but we also have areas that are OK.”
Coun. Christine Moore said declaring a disaster could show farmers that the county is aware of their plight.
“I’m just wondering if there is a way we can help.”
County manager Curtis Herzberg said a report will come back to the next council meeting clarifying the criteria to declare a disaster.