Archive | January, 2013

Videography Help Wanted!

30 Jan

PPPI has have had some video footage of the pastures given to us by a videographer who has offered to help make short videos we could put on Youtube to bring more awareness to the pasture issue.

We are looking for someone who could work with the videographer to get a couple of three-minute videos made using the clips, some still shots we have on file, and some voice work and music. Scripting and narrating would be supplied.

Please email for more information or to volunteer!

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Foreign or Corporate Ownership of PFRA Land?

29 Jan

There is a recent global trend towards corporate land ownership, investment company land ownership, and foreign investment in land. This is increasingly happening with agricultural land in Canada, and the issue has been raised in connection with the PFRA pasture lands, as well. The following two links provide some information on the topic.

Are foreign investors eyeing this pie? A Western Producer article from September 2012 looks at investment in Saskatchewan farmland.

Losing Our Grip: How a Corporate Farmland Buy-up, Rising Farm Debt, and Agribusiness Financing of Inputs Threaten Family Farms and Food Sovereignty is a 2010 publication by the National Farmers Union that details the extent and effects of corporate agricultural land ownership in Canada.

 

 

 

The PFRA Pasture Issue in a Nutshell

29 Jan

By Joe Schmutz

Recently, without due consultation, the federal government closed the nearly 80-year-old PFRA Community Pasture Program administered by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. The provincial government was given the land and now struggles to find a transition.  In August 2012, Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart announced boldly that the pastures would be sold to the farmer/rancher patrons who had previously brought their cows to the federally-employed pasture manager for summer grazing.  The original plan was: to sell the land at market value (whose market?), require that the pasture remain whole (for how long?) and apply a ‘no-cultivation no-drain’ conservation easement to it (who will monitor/enforce?).

The Saskatchewan Government has since backed away from their initial strategy.  The first 10 pastures are currently for sale.  Others, are expected to be leased. Why are several conservation groups, and the patrons themselves, not happy with this plan?

Read more: PFRA Community Pastures in transition: Where is the beef?

 

Getting Voices Heard

25 Jan

PPPI will be on CBC Radio on Monday!

Tune in to CBC Radio One at 12:35 on Monday, January 28 for a live phone-in show on the community pastures issue. PPPI’s Laura Stewart will be with Garth Materie taking calls from listeners and talking about the wider public interest in the community pastures and recent developments. Call in with your thoughts on why these grasslands should remain in the public trust and be managed in ways that protect their ecological and historical value.

Pasture Patrons Meeting Updates

24 Jan

News is pouring in about the meeting of pasture patrons in Saskatoon on January 23.

Metro News: Saskatchewan pasture patrons seek to negotiate solutions for PFRA lands.

Saskatoonhomepage.ca: Pasture patrons form association.

CKOM News Talk: Demise of grazing land program presents challenges, opportunities.

A letter in the Star-Phoenix: Changing Canada.

In the News

21 Jan

PPPI’s goals received coverage in the Western Producer last week. You can read the article here.

A Swift Current rancher’s views aired on mylocaltv.ca. You can find the video here.

News Release: All-Patrons Meeting

16 Jan

PFRA Community Pasture patrons to meet at Saskatoon

(Colonsay, SK)  January 14/13 – PFRA Community Pasture patron representatives from across Saskatchewan will attend an all-pastures meeting at Saskatoon on January 23rd to discuss transition of the PFRA and proposed sale or lease of these lands by the Province of Saskatchewan to individual patron groups.

Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz announced in April that Ottawa’s management of the PFRA pasture system will end in 2018, with transfer of the first ten pastures to the Province of Saskatchewan scheduled for 2013. Saskatchewan Minister of Agriculture Lyle Stewart stated in August that the PFRA pastures would be sold at market value with a preference to individual patron groups. Stewart has since indicated some pastures are not suitable for purchase and that his department will also entertain proposals to lease.

Government plans to disband the PFRA and sell/lease the pastures have raised widespread concern among participants in the current, federally managed grazing system. Rising land values have put market value purchase beyond the means of most PFRA patrons.  The financial risk of individual pastures is much higher than the risk for the system as a whole. Valuation of improvements is uncertain at this time.  Patrons are also concerned for loss of the professional grazing management provided by PFRA pasture managers and riders, and for the ecological well being of the pastures.  The PFRA pasture system has operated successfully for more than 75 years.

These pastures are important resources to the wider community in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, widely used for hunting and fishing. In addition to grazing, ecological and recreation values, many PFRA pastures also contain significant mineral resources.  This network of pastures is one of the largest reserves of remaining native prairie in North America and home to a significant number of endangered species. As well, numerous Saskatchewan First Nations have indicated their interest in the PFRA pastures as a means of resolving outstanding Treaty Land Entitlement and Specific Land Claims with the federal and Saskatchewan governments.   .

Confirmed speakers at the Saskatoon all-patrons meeting will include:

  • Lyle Stewart, Saskatchewan Minister of Agriculture
  • Darrell Crabbe, Executive Director, Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation
  • Barry Lowe, Chair, Steering Committee for Association of Manitoba Community Pastures
  •  Mert Taylor, Agriculture |Union-PSAC (PFRA managers and riders)
  • Brad Michael and Krystine Lamotte, Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN)

Established in 1937, the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration (PFRA) Community Pastures system was created in response to severe drought and soil erosion during the Great Depression. The PFRA operates 87 community pastures containing approximately 2.3 million acres across western Canada, of which 62 pastures containing 1.78 million acres are in Saskatchewan. Approximately 2500 Saskatchewan farmers and ranchers representing some 200,000 beef cows rely on the PFRA and its services.

The all-patrons meeting will take place at Sutherland Hall, 1112 Central Avenue in Saskatoon on January 23/13. Doors open at 8:30 AM and the meeting will begin at 9:30 AM. The morning and noon sessions are open to the media. The afternoon session, beginning at 1:00 PM, is a closed meeting and will not be open to the media.

For more information please contact the all-patrons meeting steering committee:

  • Joanne Brochu – home: (306) 255-2046, cell (306) 255-7602
  • Ian McCreary – home: (306) 567 -2099, cell (306) 561-7838
  • Bryce Burnett – home: (306) 773-7065

Cowboy Poetry from a Patron

14 Jan

PFRA PICKLE

The government reckoned it’s time to hang the PFRA pastures.  It’s an ideological thing.
We’ll throw it over to Saskatchewan – let those cowboys swing.
 
Now the Saskatchewan party’s got a hot potato, it’s a political fiasco.
They don’t want it, how to get rid of it, what’s it worth, who in the hell would know.
 
The feds have set aside Agriculture, Enbridge is a much better partner in bed.
Let those cowboys hang, they don’t care – they’ll feed ‘em ecoli instead.
 
The province agrees, PFRA don’t matter, Agriculture just ain’t their mission.
They’ll spend the money on a football stadium and with it replace Agribition.
 
They want all the patrons to form individual Associations, co-ops, companies and such.
Patrons will pay more, lose the equity they have and maintain unity – not very much.
 
Then the First Nations came forth, opportunity for fulfilment of treaty rights to the letter.
For sure politicians wouldn’t be here if their initial immigration policy had of been better.
 
Conservation, environment and wildlife will all be overturned with a tandem disc.
Only thing for sure is our pasture managers have become the next species at risk.
 
The government bureaucracy is in a pickle, no one seems to know why or how.
All patrons know – they’ll sure be paying more when this land is grazed by a cow.
 
Dealing with government levels has become a quagmire, makes one wonder if they’re sober.
Next time you gaze into the blank eyes of your MLA – you might as well just bend over.
 

Bryce Burnett

Species Will Be At Risk with Pastures Sale

11 Jan

Professor Andrea Olive, author of a recent book on Species at Risk, explains that Saskatchewan does not, in fact, have adequate protection for species at risk on community pastures under the laws that Minister Stewart says protect them. You can read the Star-Phoenix article here.

A Pasture Patron Writes…

10 Jan

The following article was sent to us from a Swift Current pasture patron.

The federal government is in the process of washing their hands of PFRA community pastures.  The ideals that structured community pastures for ranchers, conservationists and the public are being ignored because of political ideology rather than the needs of the cattle INDUSTRY.  I can understand the federal government’s view as it is evident they have no intent of sustaining the current family farm operation in western Canada.  However it is time for the Saskatchewan Party government to stand on their own two feet and stick up for the cattle, ranching and grazing INDUSTRY.  Agriculture is and will remain the basic INDUSTRY in Saskatchewan as the majority of the population in Saskatchewan  is directly or indirectly affected by the sustainability of this INDUSTRY Agriculture – after all we all eat.

Let us not dismantle the structure of the PFRA community pasture system for the sake of ideology.  The majority (we must not forget we live in a Democracy) of patrons, conservationists and those affected by these fragile lands realize the benefits, production and profitability of the present structure, now and into future generations.  This is an opportunity for this provincial government to step up and keep the lands under one umbrella;  it is not necessary to reinvent the wheel.   Forming new individual identities for each pasture will only cost patrons more money which they cannot afford and is needless, for less benefits and a significant loss to environmentalists, hunters and wild life and the Agriculture INDUSTRY.

The domain of the PFRA system in many instances was brought into the fold because of the fragile structure of the land.  These lands have been successfully brought into production and maintained viable by the proficient stewardship of trained and accomplished managers – stewards of the land and extremely important citizens contributing financially, socially and structurally to our communities.  The existing system has given many young producers an opportunity to grow their livestock operations in a positive direction, allowing them a valuable start into the Agriculture INDUSTRY.  Patrons cannot afford to purchase lands and assets which they have already contributed to and in most cases already paid for with pasture grazing fees.

It is time for patrons to come together and let our provincial government grasp the benefits of an existing system for the sustainability of our Agriculture cattle INDUSTRY.

–       Bryce Burnett – community pasture patron – Swift Current