Alberta's agriculture community was surprised to hear about changes to getting a Class 1 drivers license starting March 1, 2019.

Alberta Transportation says they consulted with groups representing the ag industry about drivers now having to take the Mandatory Entry Level Training program before getting their license.

However, Alberta Wheat Commission Vice-Chair, Hannah Konschuh, says that's not the case.

"Apparently there were consultations held in July, but the agriculture sector was not engaged, and really we've just been made aware of these changes in the last couple weeks."

Konschuh says it's going to be difficult to have new drivers trained and licensed under these changes before planting this year's crop.

Team Alberta, which represents four provincial crop commissions, says this raises concern for farmers with seasonal workers who are hired and trained right before seeding.

Last week, the group issued a press release requesting an extension to the March deadline.

"We fully support changes being made that will increase the safety and skill level of drivers on our roads," Konschuh says. "The issue here is the roll out. We weren't engaged and we haven't had a chance to get our industry up to speed."

Konschuh says driver training hours will be increased drastically to roughly 120 hours.

She adds instructors are going to be relicensed under the changes, making for a shortage in trainers and examiners to get drivers licensed.

Alberta Transportation says the training program is not required for drivers holding a Class 1 license before March 1, 2019.

The Mandatory Entry Level Training program will also apply to new Class 2 drivers.

The department says there are approximately 130,000 farm vehicles registered in Alberta, 20 per cent of which may require a Class 1 license.

For more information, you can visit the Alberta Government website.