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Foothills Forage and Grazing updates ag board

Continued cooperation on the local level integral, according to the non-profit

MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY - The county's agriculture service board (ASB) has been given an update on the activities and plans of the Foothills Forage and Grazing Association (FFGA).

The review came during a recent regularly scheduled meeting.

The ASB is made up of county councillors and appointed members of the public. It advices the county and province on agriculture-related issues and concerns.

Laura Gibney, manager of FFGA, told the board that her organization has worked with MVC for “many, many years” and continues to have good working relations with the municipality.

“We very much appreciate the partnership and the different things we can share and collaborate on,” said Gibney. “We definitely appreciate all our partnerships. There are a lot of synergies we have with the counties and the MDs as well as corporations, non-government groups, government groups. 

“We definitely feel we are stronger together, pooling resources and expertise.” 

The FFGA is a non-profit organization that assists producers and “profitably improving their forages and re-generating their soils through innovation and education,” she said, noting the 11-member board of directors is made up of volunteers.

Workshops and webinars hosted by the association, including in the county, over the past year have been “great learning experiences” for producers, she said.

Topics covered included soil health, animal nutrition, farm transition, crop mixes, pollination, invasive plants, grazing, drought management, feeding through the winter, and strategies for building resiliency, she said.

“Going forward we want to continue with both webinars and online, as well as in-person (events),” she said. “We do see that we get slightly different demographics online versus on person. We are looking at that as a positive.”

She noted that the association doesn’t own any land or equipment, “so any projects we do are done in conjunction with producer cooperators. That keeps our cost down and also allows us to work in real world farming situations, which is really beneficial. It gives us nice demonstrations sites where we can see things that are going on.”

The association is now a member of the Canadian Round Table For Sustainable Beef, she said.

“We do feel that the beef and forage industry does need strong representation at higher levels, and as a small regional non-profit, this is our way of being actively engaged and ensuring that producers' voices are heard at national levels as well as provincial,” she said. 

Upcoming events include the multi-stakeholder Ranching Opportunities event, planned for Olds College on Feb. 3.

“We are hoping to have an awesome event,” she said.

The ASB received Gibney’s report as information. 

Meanwhile, FFGA has its annual made a funding request to Mountain View County for 2022.

In a letter received by the ASB for information, Gibney outlined the association’s $5,000 funding request and related plans.

“We are asking Mountain View County to continue to partner with us by identifying areas of interest in your region, delivering pertinent information as well financially,” she said. 

“Your funding will support the delivery of our 2022 program including events, webinars, conferences, tours, workshops, demonstration trials, newsletter, social media as well as delivery of the environmental farm plan.”

She explained that, “Alberta Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Development supports our program through results-driven agriculture research; however, it is crucial that we also have support on the local level so we can meet our required matching dollars for these grants which we cannot operate without.”

Working with partners such as Mountain View County, the association is “more effective and efficient in the delivery of our program, such that we can arrange world-renowned agriculture speakers and provide workshops to southern Alberta producers at affordable rates.”

Dan Singleton

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