Grazing proposal stalls

BROOKS, Alta. — A proposal to modernize the fee structure for Alberta grazing leases remains in provincial government hands as leaseholders await developments.

Alberta Grazing Leaseholders Association chair Pat Rutledge told those at the group’s annual meeting March 7 that the proposal approved by this group and four others with an interest in lease rates has been submitted.

AGLA members passed a resolution to lobby Alberta Environment and Parks to implement the proposal for the 2019 grazing season.

Mike Alexander of the department’s range resource program said all sitting MLAs have been informed of the proposal.

It involves a new fee system that would fluctuate with the cattle market and would establish minimum per-animal-unit fees in each of two zones within the province.

The AGLA, Alberta Beef Producers, Western Stock Growers Association and the northern and central grazing associations were prompted to devise a new plan after a 2015 Alberta auditor general’s report raised questions about rates and revenues.

The rates have not been updated since 1994. If approved by government, new rates would likely be phased in over a five-year period.

As recently proposed, those in the south zone would have seen rental rates of $3.26 per animal unit month (AUM) in the first year, gradually rising to $7.10 over a five-year period. Those in the north would have initially paid $2.04 per AUM, rising to $4.99 over five years.

Under the plan now before government, rates would rise in times of higher cattle market profitability and drop in the opposite scenario, although there would still be a minimum rent. Rates would be based on a two-year rolling average and use a specific calculation to avoid extreme rate changes in either direction.

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