In an effort to alleviate the pressures felt by grain farmers, the Alberta Government is lifting bans on provincial highways across the province.
Within Ponoka County, secondary highways 607, 771, 792 and 821 have had the bans on them lifted to allow grain to be moved.
“If everybody would lay off on all the restrictions, that’s a huge benefit, that’s massive,” said Ponoka County wheat and canola farmer Bryce Liddle.
“They realize these guys got to get the grain to market,” he added.
Starting April 1 farmers will be able to transport grain from storage to elevators at 100 per cent axle capacity, as long as roads aren’t damaged and they’ve obtained one of the free permits the province is handing out in conjunction with the lifted bans. The permits can be acquired by calling 1-800-662-7138.
“Agriculture is Alberta’s largest renewable industry and part of the foundation of our rural economy. I am very pleased producers, municipalities and our government are working together with other links in the supply chain to ensure that grain will keep moving to market this spring,” said Verlyn Olson, minister of agriculture and rural development, in a press release.
Ponoka County is also stepping in behind farmers to help get their grain to market as easily and quickly as possible. “The county right now is fully behind letting people move grain,” said Liddle.
He was transporting canola April 1, and with a quick phone call to the county’s office, was able to get a county permit email to him that day. “It seems everybody is working together with the farmers.”
County executive secretary Debbie Raugust is the person issuing the free permits under the authority of the county. “We do not stop feed from moving.”
Liddle had a March contract with the elevators and believes canola isn’t under the same duress as wheat. “I would say right now probably the hardest commodity to move is wheat . . . It’s not any one person’s fault, it’s just stacked up on itself.”
Reeve Paul McLauchlin says he’s seen a significant increase in rail activity recently as Fair Rail for Grain Farmers Act has been put in place requiring railways to move minimum weekly volumes or suffer fines.
However, McLauchlin says the situation is still not moving as quickly as people were expecting, when measuring the activity in proportion to the prairie-wide awareness of the issues.