WHEREAS the Agricultural Service Board Provincial Committee has experienced changes necessitating sustainable funding; and
WHEREAS increased advocacy is necessary in the current political and economic climate; and
WHEREAS advocacy for agriculture and forestry across the province will be very individualistic;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Rural Municipalities of Alberta urge the Government of Alberta to ensure adequate and sustainable funding for the Agricultural Service Board Provincial Committee.
Brazeau County Council and the Brazeau County Agricultural Services Board are in support of a lobbying entity for Agricultural Service Boards (ASBs). The Government of Alberta is currently downloading multiple service and costs to municipalities. With the downloading of police costs, assessment model changes and current economic climates, further downloading is untenable. The provincial ASB program was reviewed by the Government of Alberta and resulting provincial reductions to ASB funding are being passed on to municipalities to subsidize.
ASB funding is also being reduced. Brazeau County’s funding is listed below:
On a yearly basis from 2017 – 2019, Brazeau County received:
On a yearly basis from 2020 – 2024 Brazeau County expects to receive:
Attached: Letter from Corey Beck, Chair Provincial ASB Committee
RMA has no active resolutions directly related to this issue.
Agriculture and Forestry
The Minister of Agriculture and Forestry provided a letter with the following response:
Rural Municipalities, the Agriculture Service Board (ASB) Provincial Committee, and ASBs are critical partners for the Government of Alberta and we remain committed to supporting the important work they do each year to implement and enforce the Agricultural Service Board Act, Weed Control Act, Agricultural Pest Act, Soil Conservation Act, and for assisting with the Animal Health Act. Municipalities and the province continue to have a strong relationship and we are committed to supporting the vital work ASBs do to protect Alberta’s access to markets through surveillance and the control of pest threats.
As you know, the downturn in the economy and the onset of COVID-19 has led to significant reductions in government revenue. This impacted the 2020-21 budget that led to some tough decisions, including the reduction of the ASB program budget last spring. The new five-year agreement will provide over $50 million over the term to Alberta’s 69 ASBs, and includes the full $1.78 million per year in funding under the Resource Management Stream.
As for the ASB Provincial committee, I am aware that the current agreement to support their Executive Director position expires on March 31, 2022. I am open to having further discussions on this with the ASB Provincial Committee in the coming months. However, Alberta is at the start of another tough budget year, and I cannot commit to an extension of the agreement at this time.
The Government of Alberta’s (GOA) response highlights the important role Agriculture Service Boards play in supporting provincial legislation. RMA appreciates this recognition; however, the resolution specifically calls for sustainable funding for the Agricultural Service Board Provincial Committee. The GOA response indicates a willingness to discuss further but does not indicate a long-term funding arrangement. As a result, this resolution is assigned a status of Intent Not Met.