MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY — The county’s agricultural services board (ASB) has been given an update on projects and programs now underway by the multi-stakeholder ALUS organization.
The update came during a recent regularly scheduled meeting of the board, held in person and on Zoom. The update also included a year-end review of ALUS, which stands for Alternative Land Use Services.
The ASB is made up of county councillor and appointed public members. It advises the county and the province on agriculture issues and concerns.
ALUS helps ranchers and farmers build nature-based solutions on their land to sustain agriculture and biodiversity, providing direct financial and technical support to networks of agricultural producers. Mountain View County is a member of ALUS.
Karen Snethun, associate western hub manager with ALUS Canada, spoke to ASB members as a delegation. She provided the board with a summary of growth and impacts from 2015-2021.
There has been a 19 per cent year-by-year increase in communities involved in ALUS, with 1,103 farmers and 31 communities participating in 2021.
“ALUS has been growing, with the number of communities, the acres in the communities, and thank goodness the amount of dollars that ALUS has been able to bring to communities in the amount of resources and support,” said Snethun.
ALUS distributed $2.28 million in funding to member communities in 2020, with farmers, ranchers and communities contributing an additional $5 million.
Funding for ALUS nationally in 2020 included $1.5 million from municipalities, $1.4 million from individuals, $1.1 million from the federal government, and $1.7 from the provincial government.
In 2020, 85 per cent of expenses were for projects and 15 per cent was for administration.
Nationally, 30 per cent of projects were modified agriculture, 36 per cent grassland, 16 per cent trees and shrubs, and 18 per cent water bodies.
In Alberta, 32 per cent were grassland, 28 per cent modified ag, 14 per cent were trees and shrubs, and 26 per cent were water bodies.
ALUS has formed a national corporate consortium, called Grazing Forward, that will help farmers and ranchers accelerate agricultural practices, she said.
So far, A&W and Cargill have joined the consortium, with other partners expected to come onboard in the future.
“This is exciting news,” she said. “We are hoping to do projects with cattle on the land. Hopefully in later 2021 or in early 2020, we will have some more enhanced grazing projects and hopefully more partners in the future.”
ALUS has launched a new LinkedIn profile called New Acre Project, which will help corporations involved with ALUS.
She spoke about ALUS public education work focusing on advocacy, loyalty, conversion, consideration and awareness.
Current education efforts include webinars with small group discussions, site tours, hands-on workshops, invitations for peer mentoring, and farmer liaisons, she said.
ASB chairman Brian Rodger called Snethun’s presentation informative.
“It’s good to see you’ve got some new partners involved,” he said.
The board accepted the ALUS report as information.