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Heading for Farm Family of the Year Award nominees in the Pincher Creek Chamber of Commerce Awards of Excellence

Six nominated for Farm Family of the Year

Six families were nominated this year in the Farm Family of the Year category of the Pincher Creek and District Chamber of Commerce Awards of Excellence.

The category is open to a rancher, farmer, or agricultural producer who represents strong values and maintains a healthy environment with a positive approach to agriculture. The nominee can be a couple, an individual or a family with outstanding management skills and strong community spirit.

The 2023 Farm Family of the Year Award was presented to Flint Rock Ranch at the Awards of Excellence gala on Oct. 20.

Enjoy the nomination snippets provided by the Chamber of Commerce and read Flint Rock Ranch’s story here!

Brylor Ranch (Bryan and Sherry Mackenzie)

Bryan and Sherry are exceptional volunteers, and they have raised their children and mentored others to have a passion for volunteering in the community as well. Every year, they take on the huge task of organizing and running the 4-H concession at the Pincher Creek Pro Rodeo. They raise award-winning Red Angus cattle and are incredible stewards of the land and environment.

Flint Rock Ranch  (Mitchell family)

Flint Rock Ranch is a new addition to a long-trusted name in cattle ranching in our community. Mitchell Bros. Beef raises exceptional-quality, 100 per cent grass-fed cattle, and now they have diversified to offer unique ranch stays in their Airstream RVs and cabins. They also host a variety of events that often feature locally grown musicians.

Hy Country Ranch (Paul, Tanya Whipple and family)

Paul and Tanya Whipple are a dedicated family who work hard together on their cattle ranch, and they are very conscientious of how they raise and treat their animals. Despite the many demands of running Hy Country Ranch, they take the time to volunteer with the skating club and coach the school basketball team. They are kind and helpful to so many people, and they quietly support our community in many ways.

Mark and Jessica Maunsell

Mark and Jessica are incredibly positive and supportive in both agriculture and the community. They contribute a great deal through participation and donations, and they involve their family in agriculture and own businesses to support the community.

Rafter 6S Cattle Co. (Brooke Slade, Donavan Barr and family)

Brooke and Donavan started from a few head of cattle, and they have worked hard to grow their herd and follow the best practices possible in order to produce high-quality local beef. They are a hard-working family and young ranchers in the community, and Donavan also works for the Town of Pincher Creek and does some custom farming in the area.

Turnbull Charolais (Curtis, Nanette Turnbull and family)

The Turnbull family has been supplying high-end bulls to Pincher Creek and the surrounding area for decades, and they deliver them to the customer no matter the distance. Curtis and Nanette have top-notch customer service and a quality product that has served the southern Alberta community for decades.

 

See all Awards of Excellence category winners here.

 

Aerial view of the Cowley Lions Campground on the Castle River in southwestern Alberta

 

harvested yellow field with mountains in the background

Southern Alberta producers close out another tough year

Like their counterparts in other areas of agriculture, wheat and barley producers in southern Alberta took a hit this year.

While the final numbers won’t be in for a couple of weeks, a lack of consistent moisture this past spring and summer has translated into a reduced harvest.

“Our yields are down quite a bit … probably about 60 per cent than what we were shooting for,” says Dean Hubbard, a director with the newly formed Alberta Grains Commission, which merged the province’s wheat and barley components under one umbrella.

“As you go towards Vulcan, a lot of the crops in that area were kind of written off already back in July.”

While we saw rain in September, Hubbard feels it’s a case, at least for grass-fed producers, of “too little, too late.”

“It’s going to be pretty hard, especially on the grasslands, for it to respond with any amount of growth to help out the ranchers,” he says. “In the Pincher Creek area, there would be quite a bit of forage crops like alfalfa or alfalfa grass mixes that would be affected.”

 

Ad for Shadowbar Shepherds Training in Pincher Creek

 

In mid August, the MD of Pincher Creek made the rare move of declaring an agricultural disaster. It wasn’t alone, with well over two dozen counties and districts doing the same.

The latest agriculture moisture situation report, provided by the province Sept. 20, still shows a dry southwest. In fact, you have to travel to the Barrhead region in the northwest to see good or better-than-good growing conditions.

Hubbard, who farms close to 3,000 acres east of Claresholm, urges struggling producers to consider contacting the aid programs offered.

“I don’t know many people that are self-insured,” he adds.

This year, no doubt, can be added to a long list of tough years for southern Alberta farmers when it comes to production.

“Since about 2015, I would say we’ve been below average except for, maybe, one year … either 2020 or 2021 when we caught some rains just at the right time and had exceptional crops,” Hubbard recalls. “Even in that year, we were extremely dry in July.”

 

 

During the month of September, the Pincher Creek airport received just under 38 millimetres of precipitation, slightly more than the average.

However, the hope, particularly for producers, is for a large snowpack, come this winter. Failing that, a normal late heavy snowfall in April would also set up farmers for a good 2024, but, then again, Mother Nature has been her normal self for the last few years.

The region’s farmers are optimistically hoping next year will be different.

 

Ad for Vape in Pincher Creek

 

The Breeze Mailbox header for letters to the editor

Putting the heat on the Liberals

As I travel throughout the Foothills riding this summer, I am reminded of the immense honour it is to represent the people from this beautiful part of southern Alberta. It is hard to believe that this past month marks nine years since I was first elected, in the 2014 byelection, to represent the hard-working Foothills residents.

What a journey it has been!

In my nine years as a member of Parliament, eight of them have been challenging the endless Liberal corruption, deficits and failed policies. Now more than ever, we are experiencing how these countless failures and missteps from this Liberal government are hurting every single Canadian.

Every day, I hear the concerns of my constituents about the future of our country.

I have heard from families who are struggling to afford food as grocery prices in Alberta have risen by 11 per cent, but data from Statistics Canada indicate grocery prices are actually much higher.

I have witnessed young people struggling to pay their rent and mortgages as the Bank of Canada raised its interest rates for the 10th time since spring 2022.

I’ve been informed by local business owners they can no longer afford their energy bills as they have tripled in the past year, devastating their operations.

Farmers have reached out saying they pay more in carbon taxes than the actual natural gas itself, making it nearly impossible to remain economically viable.

This is simply unacceptable. 

Liberal elites also continue to support Justin Trudeau’s attacks on Alberta energy and agriculture sectors, essential elements of our province’s economy.

The Liberals’ anti-energy “Just Transition” plans to eliminate 170,000 jobs in the oil and gas sector, 2.7 million jobs in related sectors (including 292,000 in agriculture) and $200 billion in yearly salaries.

Similarly, farmers continue to be punished with the burdensome red tape and inflationary taxes, placing the financial viability of Canadian agriculture and agri-food in jeopardy. 

Canada has reached a breaking point, yet the Liberals’ response is to continue their out-of-control spending and adding to our record-high deficit, sacrificing the economic well-being of our country.

Justin Trudeau’s most recent cabinet shuffle is just another example of his attempt to distract from all he has broken. This is not a solution. At the end of the day, families, businesses and farms cannot afford the policies and tax hikes imposed upon us by the Liberal-NDP coalition; they are failing our country and Canadians deserve better.

It is time to end the attacks on Canadian energy and agriculture. It is time to stop the Liberals from looking at Canadian farmers as part of the problem, because in fact, Canadian farmers are part of the solution, and the carbon tax has got to go.

I see our farm families, agriculture and our energy sector and the people it employs as parts of the economic and environmental solution. These industries build hospitals and schools and fund our social programs, and we should be proud of what these industries contribute to our society. I look forward to continuing the fight on behalf of farmers and all Canadians. 

While our challenges are many, I remain steadfast every day, working hard to earn the support, trust and confidence of my constituents. My commitment to listening to the insights, and voicing the concerns of my constituents will remain my utmost priority. 

Foothills, I want to thank you for your unwavering support over the years. I will continue to be a champion of our communities

 

Shootin’ the Breeze welcomes submissions about local issues and activities. Personal views expressed in Mailbox articles are those of the writers and do not necessarily reflect views of Shootin’ the Breeze management and staff. 

harvested yellow field with mountains in the background

Farmers hoping for much-needed relief

To say it’s been a tough year for producers in southwestern Alberta might be considered a huge understatement, but it has.

A lack of measurable rain since spring and now a surge in the grasshopper population is hitting farmers twice as hard.

On Aug. 8, the Municipal District of Pincher Creek made the rare move of declaring an agricultural disaster.

This follows a recommendation by its agricultural fieldman and service board, and was rubber-stamped at a special council meeting, also held on the same day.

“Municipal declarations do not automatically trigger access to increased funding programs, provincially or federally,” noted the MD in a statement posted on its website. “It’s rather intended to bring attention to other levels of government on where support is needed for producers.”

To date, the Alberta government has not made any provincewide designation.

Reeve Rick Lemire, a cattle producer himself, doesn’t recall such a declaration being made in recent memory.

“About a month ago, it was brought up. Should we be looking or monitoring this? Since that time, we, as a council, have had phone calls from producers saying it’s time — we’re in sad shape here,” said Lemire. “So we called the special meeting and went over the facts that our ag fieldman provided us.”

 

Ad for Creekview Dental Hygiene clinic in Pincher Creek

 

Some feedback included situations of stock being sold with a dwindling grass supply and the need and cost to have water hauled in. Lemire knows all too well about those same hurdles, with two of his three dugouts completely dry.

Add to that, the latest wrinkle — grasshoppers.

“What little crop they might have had to cut for feed is being destroyed and all of that within the last month. Grasshoppers come in cycles and this is (their) year,” Lemire continued.

“And, next year could be worse because they’ve come in such large numbers. I know of at least a few producers in the MD that have sprayed their crops twice this year, and if you don’t control it, there’s nothing left.”

According to the MD, drought conditions have impacted 50 to 90 per cent of crops, pasture and range yields, pointing to a lack of spring and in-season moisture combined with long durations of high temperatures and winds.

Figures from Environment and Climate Change Canada show no measurable precipitation for Pincher Creek in the first 10 days of August.

In all, close to two dozen MDs and counties have already made the declaration, including neighbouring Cardston County on July 16, and the list is sure to grow if the dry, hot conditions continue.