Alberta's future could be one of drought

Farmers and ranchers across Canada's prairies have been facing off against hot and dry weather conditions for the past year, and a drought researcher says simulations show it's time to start treating these conditions as the "new normal."

Some regions in southern Alberta are contending with one-in-50-year lows of precipitation accumulation. The arid conditions are hurting crops and making it hard for ranchers to grow enough feed for cattle to graze on.

If ranchers don't see rain in the next few weeks, they will likely be forced to sell their livestock earlier. They're also trying to get a sense as to whether or not there will be enough feed to get herds through the winter.

One agriculture sector observer said Alberta's agriculture industry has historically had to adapt to difficult conditions, as that's just the nature of farming in a semi-arid climate, but it's time to start adjusting grazing, land-management and business plans to suit the new climate reality.

And, she said Albertans should really think about it as more than simply an environmental issue.

She suggested producers start looking at social solutions like implementing co-operative grazing to better share water and land, and added Albertans don't need to start worrying yet, but that could change if action isn't taken.