Sheri Monk writes eloquently about the situation facing rural communities near PFRA pastures. The quote in bold really sums it up – hard to argue with that!
“The PFRA employs people, and those people have families that attend area schools, and purchase goods and services locally. The pasture land and irrigation has helped provide a stability that in turn makes the entire region stronger. The environmental goods and services the pastures provide are well-documented, and contribute greatly to Canada’s carbon storage capacity. All of these communities help keep our border secure and sovereign and act as a buffer between Canada and the U.S. – these are the communities in which our customs officers live. There is an enormous amount of ranching and farming in the area and these efforts by a handful of people help to sustain our shortline railways, our elevators, and our service communities like Swift Current, Medicine Hat, Shaunavon and Maple Creek.
Everybody benefits from the PFRA projects, and to suddenly expect a handful of people to completely finance them is akin to asking the village of Piapot to take over all costs associated with the TransCanada Highway between Maple Creek and Tompkins.”
Then, this article from Country Guide West really delves into the complexity of the issue.
“Stewart says. ‘These are people who don’t deal well with change. This (PFRA) was a subsidized program in the past, and it won’t be into the future. It’s not fair to others.’
Stewart blames the PFRA system as a whole for lease rates to patrons that lagged far behind the private sector.
But Trevor Herriot doesn’t buy the argument that the pastures are simply agricultural land. ‘There are more endangered species here than anywhere in Canada and 7,000-year-old native grass. This is not merely agricultural land any more than a northern forest is simply a woodlot.'”