Education preferred, not enforcement

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Big Lakes County is taking steps to root out invasive plant species.

At its regular meeting, council amended its invasive species bylaw.

Council also adopted policies for aphanomyces of peas, fusarium graminearum of cereals and verticillium of canola for the Agricultural Service Board.

One councillor who farms supports the bylaws and policies.

“Anytime you can keep disease out of municipalities, it’s never a bad thing,” Prairie Echo – Salt Prairie Councillor David Marx says.

He also serves on the Agricultural Service Board and agricultural advisory committee.

Big Lakes will respond to any invasive species in a positive way.

“It’s prevention and education,” Reeve Ken Matthews says.

Fusarium graminearum is currently not a problem in the county, acting agricultural field person Kendra Kozdroski says.

“We have no fusarium in Big Lakes County,” Kozdroski says.

“It is not something we find in the north very often.

“If we do find it, we will educate farmers first.”

Fusarium is also not an issue in the Peace region, says Brett Hawken, director of community and protective services.

“In the north, we are doing a good job to keep it out of our fields,” Hawken says.

Updates were needed since the provincial government changed some regulations, he says.

The Alberta government removed fusarium graminearum (Fg) from the Pest and Nuisance Control Regulation on June 3, Hawken says.

That limited municipalities’ authority to manage and monitor the disease, he notes.

“Fusarium gramin- earum can have a devastating impact on producers, with the potential to downgrade crops, leading to losses of potentially $100 per acre,” Hawken says.

It was taken off the provincial regulation because it’s widely distributed throughout the province.

It is worse in some areas like southern Alberta, so municipalities were directed to regulate it based on severity in their area.

“Since it is so different across the province, the province felt that there should not be a standard way to control it and leave it in each municipality’s hands how they want to regulate it,” Hawken says.

Industry recommends seed lots with 5 per cent infection be destroyed in areas with low infection rates and not be used for feed or seed.

“Peace region municipalities have been making an effort to approach the issue as a region and a regional bylaw template was produced,” Hawken says.

Enforcement of the bylaw is the last step.

The agricultural advisory committee passed the invasive species bylaw at its regular meeting March 18.

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