County of Wetaskiwin council heard a detailed series of reports from their Director of Agricultural Services Stephen Majek at their regular meeting Dec. 18.
Majek gave a report on the Ag Service Board’s 2018 activities. “The Agricultural Service Board had five meetings in 2018,” stated Majek’s report.
“The Board consists of seven members, Councilors Bill Krahn, Josh Bishop, Ken Adair and Lyle Seely and Farm Members Garth Parker, Mike Schmidt a Stephan Dewald. At the 2018 ASB Organizational meeting Councilor Josh Bishop was appointed as Chairperson and Mike Schmidt was appointed as Vice Chairperson.
“At each ASB meeting a report was provided by the Director of Agricultural Services, the Horticulturist and the Sustainable Agricultural Coordinator. These reports kept the Board members up-to-date on events and duties staff were involved in.
“Some important issues that have been presented at ASB Meetings in 2018:
“In early Spring, ASB Staff completed all repairs and upgrades to the rental equipment. Rental equipment has been used by several producers, especially skunk traps. The sprayers have been rented by producers from all over the County. Administration heard from two producers, west of Winfield, who felt traveling to Wetaskiwin was excessive to pick up the sprayer. Currently there is no sprayer available in the west portion of the County.
“The County and the City of Wetaskiwin have a duly signed new four year Weed Inspection Services Agreement that came into effect January 1st, 2018 ending December 31st, 2021. The Director of Agriculture Services is the appointed Designated Inspector in the City of Wetaskiwin who will perform duties under the Weed Control Act. Several letters were sent to landowners within the City to perform weed control on their property.
“Beaver Control has been fairly active this year with over one hundred and eighty (180) beaver and twenty six dams being breached from problem locations throughout the County.
“Through the Strategic Planning process, Administration was to investigate the cost of additional staff for enforcement of the Weed Control Act. This has been completed and an update will be presented to Council during the 2019 Municipal, Capital and Operating Budget process review.”
Councilors accepted the report for information.
ASB strategic plan
Majek noted, “On November 2, 2018, the Agricultural Service Board (ASB) members attended a Strategic Planning Session to review core services, core outcomes, and actions that will affect the 2019 ASB Budget.”
Some amendments included “Up to 5 bursaries in the amount of $1,000, to be given out yearly; applicants may only receive bursary once, investigate options and cost to rent Agricultural equipment in the western portion of the County and hire additional staff to increased Enforcement for Weed Control, including follow-up.”
Majek noted 60 producers are set to receive weed notices in 2019, as the background and preparation are done.
Councilor Krahn asked if weed notices and enforcement end up in court quite a bit. Majek answered no.
Councilor Lyle Seely stated he felt that if the county starts enforcing weed regulations, word will get out in the community.
Councilors approved Majek’s recommendation on the ASB strategic direction.
Ag Bursary Policy
Majek presented some changes to this policy. He said, if amended, it would read, “Annually, up to five $1,000.00 Agricultural Bursaries will be made available by the County of Wetaskiwin to any qualifying applicant who wishes to attend a postsecondary institution in a faculty relating to agriculture. Applicants may only receive a bursary once from the County of Wetaskiwin.”
Councilors approved the new policy.