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Peace-area farmers get break on pumping rentals

Farmers in the dry Peace River region in Alberta’s northwest who used the province’s emergency water pumping program can expect full refunds on the equipment rental fees they paid.

The Alberta government said Wednesday it has budgeted about $150,000 to waive those rental fees for eligible farmers, retroactive to Jan. 1.

Over 200 Peace-area farmers had used the emergency water program this year to rent aluminum pipe and pumps from the provincial agriculture and rural development department (AARD) to fill dugouts or other suitable basins from nearby water sources.

AARD said it will contact those farmers who used the program between Jan. 1 and Dec. 15 and are eligible for the refunds.

For those farmers who accessed their emergency water program equipment through the municipal districts (MDs) of Greenview, Northern Sunrise and Smoky River, AARD said it will work with the MDs to process the refunds.

Haulage

Peace-area farmers in one of 12 MDs also have until April 7, 2011 to apply for funding through a Peace River water hauling program the province is offering this winter.

The program will provide for a third of eligible costs, up to $5,000, for an eligible farmer to haul water for agriculture uses between Jan. 1, 2010 and March 31, 2011.

The MDs where farmers are eligible for the hauling program include Big Lakes, Birch Hills, Clear Hills, Fairview, Grande Prairie, Greenview, Northern Lights, Northern Sunrise, Peace, Saddle Hills, Smoky River and Spirit River. Application forms are available online.

The province also noted a water management program is available through the federal/provincial Growing Forward ag policy funding framework, providing “technical assistance and support” for developing water sources at the farm level, based on a third of eligible project costs to a maximum of $5,000 per eligible farmer.

“In addition to the programs that provide short-term solutions to water access, my department is also working with affected municipalities on longer term solutions to regional water supplies,” provincial Ag Minister Jack Hayden said in the province’s release.

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