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Alberta county declares agricultural disaster due to drought

Saskatchewan cattle producers call for government help to deal with drought conditions

Saskatchewan cattle producers are the latest group to call for government help in dealing with drought conditions that have withered crops in parts of the Prairies.

The Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association has asked Ottawa for tax deferrals for producers who are forced to sell cattle due to dry conditions.

President Doug Gillespie says in some parts of Saskatchewan hay yields are up to 70 per cent below normal and producers may be forced to sell part of their breeding herds.

Meanwhile, another county in Alberta has declared a state of agricultural disaster due to drought.

Leduc County has joined Sturgeon, McKenzie, and Parkland counties in seeking government help for ruined crops.

The drought in Alberta is affecting cereals, oil seeds and hay for livestock.

Leduc Mayor John Whaley said producers are dealing with extremely low soil moisture levels and in some cases with grasshopper infestations.

``Leduc County council recognizes the struggles our local producers are facing,'' he said in a release Tuesday. ``By making this declaration, we are focusing attention on this issue and are encouraging other levels of government to provide support where possible.''

He said government help could include reduced rental rates for dugout water pumping, drought disaster loan programs and federal livestock tax deferrals.

Gillespie said the Saskatchewan government has helped producers by opening up more Crown land for grazing and by making some changes to crop insurance rules.

But he said the federal government could help as well.

``We believe that implementing the livestock tax deferral provision will help ease the financial pain for producers that are selling into a depressed market for bred cows,'' he said.

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