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August 15, 2023 Checking in with ABP

Have you heard of AGLA?

The success of Alberta’s beef industry relies on an efficient and productive cow herd with access to an extensive feed supply. Approximately 20 per cent of this feed comes from the use of Crown grazing leases, making these lands an integral foundation for one of Alberta’s most important industries.

The first grazing leases were instituted in 1881. Today, there are more than 5,700 grazing leases in Alberta covering more than 8 million acres of the province. The most common grazing disposition on Crown land is the lease (other dispositions include permits, licenses, and head tax permits). These Crown lands have a designated priority use for agriculture and most are best suited to cattle grazing. The average lease in Alberta is just over a section and supports approximately 50 cows.

Grazing leaseholders undertake a significant management role on public lands; they are responsible for managing grazing, infrastructure, and property tax costs, managing other uses such as industrial activity and recreational access, and they serve to both protect and maintain environmental values. Crown lands under grazing disposition have benefitted from the intergenerational knowledge of its stewards, and the succession of those stewards depends on security and profitability. Continued stewardship of Crown land in Alberta is reliant on the recognition of property rights in grazing leases and legislation supporting it. This is where Alberta Grazing Leaseholders Association (AGLA) comes in.

AGLA’s mission is “To protect Alberta’s grazing leaseholders from erosion of rights and property and to preserve the assets and income of grazing lease owners.” We strive to be the voice of reason in matters of land use, property rights, and surface rights. AGLA has represented the interests of leaseholders provincially, nationally, and locally since 1998 and works closely with other industry groups such as Northern Alberta Grazing Association, East Central Grazing Association, Western Stock Growers’ Association, Rocky Mountain Forest Range Association, Special Areas, and Alberta Beef Producers.

AGLA actively fosters ongoing engagement with elected officials, bureaucrats, and other stakeholders for continued recognition of the importance of the leaseholder role on Crown lands under grazing disposition. Current issues include modernization of the grazing-timber integration manual, preparing for a review of the Recreational Access Regulations, and access/liability concerns over undeveloped road allowances. And there are the ever-present conversations on recreational access and surface compensation where we continue to sit at the table to represent leaseholders.

All of the advocacy work that AGLA does is done by the volunteers that sit on the board of directors. The board is comprised of very capable leaseholders who are committed to the continual effort it takes to maintain and improve the grazing lease system. Province-wide representation on the board is a testament to the strength of our organization. To keep costs down, AGLA directors do not take an honorarium nor do they claim expenses. The administration and other management duties is filled with a part-time contract position. AGLA is run solely on memberships and donations so the support of the membership is everything. It keeps the organization accountable and closely tied to the producers we represent.

If you are already a member, we thank you for your support and hope you continue to be a member. If you have not purchased a membership, please consider offering your support for the important work AGLA does for leaseholders. At $50 per year, it is the best deal out there for representation and advocacy.

Contact: Lindsye Murfin, AGLA Manager, 587-435-4072, albertagrazinglease@gmail.com

Celebrating 25 Years of AGLA

From the very beginning, AGLA has amplified the voice of leaseholders and advocated upon their behalf on issues relating to Alberta’s public lands. It was from one such issue that this organization was formed 25 years ago.

During a series of meetings in 1997 asking Albertans for input on how public lands should be managed, leaseholders felt their perspectives were being overshadowed by those favouring recreation and wildlife conservation. The resulting 1998 report on public land management in Alberta, which was later introduced into the Legislative Assembly as Bill 31, prompted outcry from hundreds of leaseholders, who met in Medicine Hat to discuss a path forward. To defend against this legislation, AGLA was created, and it has worked in this spirit ever since to ensure that leaseholders have a say in the management of the lands they care for.

This article was first published in Volume 3 Issue 2 of ABP Magazine (June 2023). Watch for more digital content from the magazine on ABP Daily.

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About the Author

Alberta Grazing Leaseholders Association
Alberta Grazing Leaseholders Association (AGLA) advocates for the rights of all grazing leaseholders in Alberta. AGLA's mission is: "To protect Alberta's grazing leaseholders from erosion of rights and property and to preserve the assets and income of grazing leasehold owners." http://www.albertagrazinglease.ca/

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