In the provincial government offices in Edmonton is an office that is dedicated specifically to the agricultural sector.
The Farmers’ Advocate Office, celebrating its fifth decade of service, was founded in 1973 “so farmers would have a voice.”
According to Janet Patriquin, Assistant Farmers’ Advocate, one of the goals of the office is to “help farmers navigate change” and “issues navigation.”
The role of the office has changed over the last 50 years; at its inception, the office was run by one person. Today, there is a team of five under one farmer advocate who reports directly to the Minister of Agriculture.
One part of the office’s mandate involves all licencing of agricultural implementation dealers in the province through the Farmer’s Advocate office, as is dispute resolution.
According to Patriquin, any issues within 10 days or 50 hours of the purchase of an agricultural implement can be handled through the office.
Another area that is part of the office’s mandate is the concerns of rural landowners.
One of the five office members specializes in dealing with rural landowners, property rights, oil and gas and renewable energy.
Darcy Allen, a specialist in those areas recently presented to a group of 40 in Stettler where he discussed property rights and renewable energy projects.
Other areas the office deals with include crop insurance, agri-security, confined feeding operations and farm safety.
“All the stuff no one else wants to deal with,” said Patriquin.
“We’re very rarely in the office.”
The five office members cover the entire province, offering their expertise when asked and providing a variety of advocacy roles.
Recently, Patriquin says she has helped by providing sessions on land-lease agreements.
“We’re trying to help (people) navigate through the proper protocol,” said Patriquin.
For more information on the Farmers’ Advocate Office, or to contact the advocates, check it out online at www.alberta.ca/farmers-advocate-office.