WHEREAS agricultural producers gain valuable information specific to their region from local agricultural research associations and forage associations; andWHEREAS these associations are faced with decreased funding resulting from changes to the Agricultural Opportunity Fund; andWHEREAS many of these research and forage associations are not financially able to sufficiently maintain their programs; andWHEREAS the provincial government is promoting a rural strategy;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties urge the Government of Alberta to maintain or increase previous levels of core funding to applied research associations and forage associations.
In the 1990s, the Government of Alberta provided core funding to agricultural research associations and forage associations as separate grant programs. The Agricultural Opportunity Fund was then introduced in 2002. This fund was created to provide core funding for both of these associations. Since then, the matching component has increased every year. Although the Agricultural Opportunity Fund has maintained its level of financing, more organizations were allowed to apply. This resulted in less funds for each organization. Provincial grant funding is available through different programs. Unfortunately, some programs are very difficult to access and others are program/project specific. Also, it is increasingly complicated to generate long-term plans as these grants can be volatile. This is why core funding is of vital importance to these organizations.With the closing of many Alberta Agriculture District Offices, local research groups are now expected to provide the expertise that producers require. With today’s job market, salaries have increased substantially in the last several years. As these research groups rely mainly on government grants, it is becoming increasingly difficult to sustain the levels of service that producers have come to expect. ‘A Place to Grow’ is the Alberta’s government’s new rural development strategy. The Strategy indicates the government will strive to adapt and adjust programs and measures to take into account the unique aspects of rural communities. The report states “Consideration will be given to strategically locating public services to rural communities in order to make greater use of existing facilities.” If local agricultural research associations and forage associations cannot afford to operate, public services will continue to decrease in rural Alberta. The Provincial government must continue to promote rural Alberta at all costs. Without rural Alberta there is no Alberta.
The AAMDC has no resolutions currently in effect with respect to this issue.However, resolution 7-05F regarding research funding for alternate energy sources urges the Government of Alberta to invest $3 billion dollars over the next twenty years in research and development funding for alternate energy sources.The government response indicates that alternate and renewable energy is one of the strategic priority areas of the Alberta Energy Innovation Strategy. The goal is to develop, improve and adapt alternate and renewable energy technologies, such as bioenergy, green hydrogen, fuel cells and geothermal energy.The AERI recognizes that considerable collaboration in this area will be required across the country and internationally. In this regard, the AERI is working with the Alberta Agricultural Research Institute, the Alberta Forestry Research Institute and the Energy Innovation Network (EnergyINet Inc.) to promote national collaboration on renewable energy with industry and other governments.
The Government of Alberta announced in November, 2006, a $15 million commitment to upgrade greenhouse facilities at the provincial Crop Diversification Centre in Brooks, and $15 million to purchase land housing a number of agri-food industry research projects.At meetings in September 2007 and June 2008 with the Minister of Agriculture & Rural Development, the Association urged the Government of Alberta to maintain or increase previous levels of core funding to applied research associations and forage associations. The AAMDC urged the Government of Alberta to provide a response to the Association regarding levels of funding for research and forage associations, and will continue to monitor these funding formulas. This resolution will be brought forward to the Minister of Agriculture & Rural Development again in June 2009.