WHEREAS Agricultural Service Boards (ASBs) have been in existence for 65 years and are responsible for protecting the agricultural resources of Alberta through enforcement of provincial Acts delegated to them under the Agricultural Service Board Act (ASB Act). ASBs, in consultation with council’s, are required to appoint a qualified person to enforce the Weed Control Act, Agricultrual Pests Act, Soil Conservation Act and to assist with the Animal Health Act; and
WHEREAS the ASB Act is an enabling Act that states that “the council, in consultation with the board, must appoint a qualified person as agricultural fieldman to implement agricultural policies and programs and to manage the agricultural resources of the municipality”; and
WHEREAS municipalities, through the ASB’s and their staff operate under or enforce the ASB Act, Weed Control Act, Soil Conservation Act and Agricultural Pests Act. Each of these Acts requires ASB staff to interact with producers and industry, often giving recommendations on how to properly deal with weeds, insects and diseases affecting agricultural production; and
WHEREAS At a session held November 26, 2009 during the Alberta Association of Agricultural Fieldmen annual In-Service Training it was made clear to Agricultural Fieldmen that the Agrology Profession Act and its Regulations could have a significant negative impact on their ability to carry out the roles, duties and mandates that Municipalities, ASB’s, Agricultural Fieldman, and other ASB staff currently have in their local areas by adding unnecessary costs to already strained municipal budgets; and
WHEREAS Section 40 of the Agrology Profession Act and its regulations requires qualified candidates to apply for registration under the Agrology Profession Act unless, the person “is authorized to provide any services referred in subsection (1) pursuant to another enactment”; and
WHEREAS The Agricultrual Service Board Act is currently up for review. This allows Municipalities and Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development (AARD) the opportunity to request and include a provision exempting rural Municipalities, Agricultural Service Boards and their ASB staff from the mandatory membership that is required for those ASB staff that would qualify for membership under the Agrology Profession Act.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the AAMDC request Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development ensure that a provision be included in the Agricultural Service Board Act that exempts Municipal staff from mandatory membership in the Alberta Institute of Agrologist’s as stated in the Agrology Profession Act, to ensure that Municipalities can maintain autonomy in hiring qualified persons of their own determination to continue their mandate to protect agricultural resources in their communities as they have done for the past 65 years.
Rural Municipalities, their Agricultural Service Boards and staff have been serving and effectively meeting the needs of rural landowners in Alberta for 65 years. Agricultural Fieldmen are the administrative officers that carry out the various programs set out by their Councils and Agricultural Service Boards. The Agricultural Fieldmen, are appointed as inspectors or regulatory officers to administer four Acts that the Municipalities have been delegated responsibility for. Other ASB staff, for example, Assistant Agricultural Fieldmen, Municipal Weed Inspectors and Pest Control Officers are also appointed under these Acts and have responsibilities and duties delegated to them by the province and the municipalities.
The current Agricultural Service Board Act that governs all Agricultural Service Boards (ASBs) in the Province, states that:
Agricultural service board duties
2. The duties of an agricultural service board are
(a) to act as an advisory body and to assist the council and the Minister, in matters of mutual concern,
(b) to advise on and to help organize and direct weed and pest control and soil and water conservation programs,
(c) to assist in the control of the animal disease under the Animal Health Act
(d) to promote, enhance and protect viable and sustainable agriculture with a view to improving the economic viability of the agricultural producer, and to promote and develop agricultural policies to meet the needs of the municipality.
8 (1) If a council has established a board, the council, in consultation with the board, must appoint a qualified person as agricultural fieldman to implement agricultural policies and programs and to manage the agricultural resources of the municipality.
(2) The agricultural fieldman shall act as a designated officer of the municipality
(a) in carrying out the functions, duties and powers of the municipality under any Act related to agriculture, and
(b) in implementing projects respecting agriculture agreed on between the council and the Minister.
(3) An agricultural fieldman is, in the municipality employing that fieldman,
(a) a municipal inspector under the Weed Control Act,
(b) an inspector of the municipality under the Agricultural Pests Act, and
(c) a soil conservation officer of the municipality under the Soil Conservation Act.
Inspectors appointed under the Weed Control Act, Agricultural Pests Act or Soil Conservation Act are required to make recommendations or give direction on the Notice as to how to deal with these agricultural issues, but more often recommendations and direction are given by municipal staff to deal with these issues so that Notices do not have to be issued.
How can Municipalities, Agricultural Service Boards, Agricultural Fieldman and their staff carry out the above stated duties in the Act without making agronomic recommendations? Municipal programs have a variety of awareness and inspection procedures that they use to work with producers in an effort to avoid the enforcement stage, and the agronomic advise in such cases does not appear to be exempt from the Agrology Profession Act.
The following segment of the Agrology Profession Act defines what is considered under the practice of agrology. It covers a wide range of competencies including, what we believe to be much of the work of the Agricultural Service Board staff do on a daily basis. An exemption from this Act is required for Municipalities to continue to carry out their mandates and programs for the rural ratepayers and communities of Alberta. After checking our municipal archives and checking with the AAMDC, there is no record of an invitation to consult on the Agrology Profession Act during its development. This is a huge oversight and possibly an error in Act review protocol.
The Agrology Profession Act states:
1 (1) In this Act,
(v) “practice of agrology” means the development, acquisition or application of scientific principles and practices relating to the cultivation, production, utilization and improvement of plants and animals and the management of associated resources includes
(i) the certification and compliance with Acts, regulations, directives, standards and guidelines related to agrology,
(ii) the conducting of economic, statistical, financial, sociological and other studies related to agrology,
(iii) the production, processing, marketing and protection of agricultural and related products and supplies,
(iv) the analysis, classification and evaluation of land and water systems,
(v) the undertaking of agricultural design and advising on the use of buildings, structures, machinery and equipment,
(vi) the conservation, decommissioning, reclamation, remediation and improvement of soils, land and water systems, and
(vii) the development, management and use of waste treatment and ecological systems;
The following section of the Agrology Profession Act specifies the mandatory membership requirements and the penalties that may be applied if a qualified person does not become a member of the Alberta Institute of Agrologists. This section also states conditions in which this Act does not apply to a person. There were letters being sent to the appropriate Government departments to get an interpretation whether Municipalities and their staff are covered under these exemptions, but we have not received a response as of yet. In addition, many Municipal and ASB staff would not qualify to become a member of the Alberta Institute of Agrologists and would cause a stratified level of staff throughout the province. The membership fees and costs of additional training would also be a significant burden to Municipalities. Currently Agricultural Fieldmen, Assistant Agricultural Fieldmen and Agricultural Foremen are members of the Association of Alberta Agricultural Fieldman, an association that has been around for 52 years meeting the training needs of Municipal Agricultural staff.
40 (1) A person must apply for registration if the person
(a) Is qualified to meet the requirements of section 22(2) for registration as a regulated member, and
(b) Intends to provide professional services to the public or to supervise regulated members who provide professional services to the public.
(2) If the registrar is of the opinion that a person who is not a regulated member meets or may meet the requirements referred to in subsection (1)(a) and provides any or all services described in subsection (1)(b), the registrar may give that person a written request to apply for registration.
(3) A person who receives a request under subsection (2) must give a complete application for registration, except the application fee, to the registrar within 30 days after receiving the request, and the application fee must be paid before registration.
(4) This section does not apply to a person who
(a) is a student of the agrology profession
(b) is authorized to provide any services referred to in subsection (1) pursuant to another enactment, or
(c) provides the professional services on land in which the person has a direct or indirect interest.
41 (1) A person who meets the requirements of section 40(1) but does not comply with a request under section 40(3) is guilty of an offence.
(2) A person who is guilty of an offence under this section is liable
(a) for a first offence, to a fine of not more than $2000,
(b) for a 2nd offence, to a fine of not more than $4000, and
(c) for a 3rd and every subsequent offence, to a fine of not more than $6000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than 6 months or to both a fine and imprisonment.
(3) A prosecution under this section may be commenced within 2 years after the commission of the alleged offence, but not afterwards.
42 The Court of Queens Bench, on application by the Institute by way of originating notice, may grant an injunction enjoining any person who meets the requirements of section 40(1)(a) from providing any or all services described in section 40(1)(b) if the person is not a regulated member and is not authorized to provide the services pursuant to another enactment.
Mandatory membership in the Alberta Institute of Agrologists (AIA) as currently required by the Agrology Profession Ace would result in significant costs to the Municipalities in the form of membership fees and additional training costs. For Example, if every member of the AAAF in the Province were mandated to be members and paid the AIA membership it could result in approximately $64,000.00 per year in membership fees alone for Rural Municipalities, this is not counting additional ASB staff (weed and pest inspectors) that may fall under this act or the associated training fees required to maintain membership in the AIA. This type of additional costs could become restrictive for some Rural Municipalities.
It is essential that the issue regarding the Agrology Profession Act be addressed so that Municipalities, Agricultural Service Boards and their staff may continue to operate and conduct their programs as they have been for the past 65 years.
The AAMDC has no active resolutions directly related to this issue.
Agriculture and Rural Development:
The Agricultural Service Board Act is under review. Currently, section 8(1) of this Act states that the board “must appoint a qualified person as Agricultural Fieldman” and that “fieldmen shall act as a designated officer of the municipality.”
In consultation with Alberta Employment and Immigration, which is responsible for the Agrology Profession Act, it was determined that an exemption for municipal employees under the Agricultural Service Board Act is unnecessary, as the Agricultural Service Board Act takes precedence over the Agrology Profession Act. As such, the requested amendment to the Agricultural Service Board Act need not be included.
Agriculture and Rural Development will continue to work with municipalities to update the Act as required.
Employment and Immigration:
In Resolution 3-10S, the proposed amendment to the Agricultural Service Board Act to exempt all municipal employees from membership in the Alberta Institute of Agrologists (AIA) is unnecessary. The Agrology Profession Act already contains provisions that exempt persons, including municipal employees, who provide agrological services under the authority of other legislation. In addition, this proposed total exemption would significantly hamper the AIA in carrying out its legislated responsibilities when seeking to register agrology professions who fall under the Agrology Profession Act’s mandatory registration provisions.
In response to this resolution, the AAMDC was advised that the exemption was unnecessary because the Agrology Profession Act already contains provisions that exempt persons, including municipal employees, who provide agrological services under the authority of other legislation. The AAMDC accepts this response.