If you missed the interview with PPPI Co-chair Trevor Herriot and retired PFRA cowboy Mert Taylor talking grasslands with CBC Radio’s Anna Maria Tremonti on Tuesday, February 21, you can find it here. A partial transcript is also available on the site.
The issue came to the attention of the CBC because this past Wednesday, the Federal NDP’s Wayne Stetski (Kootenay-Columbia) rose during Question Period with the following question about the transfer of pastures to Saskatchewan:
“Mr. Speaker, both Conservative and Liberal governments have downloaded responsibility for Saskatchewan’s environmentally critical grasslands without any concern for their future. These grasslands are unique ecological heritage sites. They act as important carbon sinks and are home to rare and threatened species. Now the government is considering giving away the last of these grasslands in southwestern Saskatchewan and ending the environmental protection they receive.
Will the Minister of Environment and Climate Change commit today to create a new national wildlife area to preserve these ecosystems for future generations?”
Response from Hon. Catherine McKenna (Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Lib.):
“Mr. Speaker, I take very seriously the obligation to protect our natural environment. I am committed to working with the member on this issue to find a resolution.”
42nd PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION, EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 141
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
NDP urges federal government to preserve last federal pastures: news article from CBC.
“Conservative and Liberal governments have handed off responsibility for Saskatchewan’s environmentally critical grasslands without any concern for their future protection,” Kootenay-Columbia MP and National Parks critic Wayne Stetski said during question period Wednesday.
“As we come close to losing the last three pastures in the southwest corner of the province, will the minister of the environment commit today to creating a new National Wildlife Area to preserve them for future generations?” Steski asked.
Two articles this week highlighted the placement of the former PFRA pastures in Saskatchewan on the National Trust’s list of endangered places. CBC ran this article and the Leader-Post ran this article, from which the following quote is taken:
The Public Pastures – Public Interest group is quite pleased to see the pastures on the list. The group has been campaigning for years for the conservation of the pastures.
“We’re trying to end up with some form of assistance, some form of guarantee that the pastures will remain publicly owned and managed for livestock producing as well for species at risk, biodiversity and basically continue on the same track that the PFRA system had developed,” said Lorne Scott, co-chair of Public Pastures – Public Interest.
Is conservation an issue in the provincial election? Trevor Herriot argues, in the Leader-Post, that it should be:
In 2012, the federal government cut the PFRA community pasture program, placing the lion’s share of our protected grasslands in limbo. The Saskatchewan government chose to pass on management responsibility for these ecologically rich lands to private grazing corporations, offering to lease or sell them. By any application of the IUCN criteria for protection, you can no longer count conservation land stripped of its biodiversity programming, then leased or sold primarily for cattle grazing.
So where is Saskatchewan at then, once we remove the WHPA lands for sale and PFRA pastures from the tally of protected areas? Our protected area percentage drops from 8.7 to 6.34 per cent — nowhere near the 17-per-cent commitment under Canada’s 2020 Biodiversity Targets and Goals and half our original RAN commitment.
An article from ipolitics:
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Assistant Deputy Minister Greg Meredith confirmed Tuesday that no strategic environmental assessment was conducted before the government disbanded the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration.
Meredith said a third-party environment assessment was conducted on the pastures for Environment Canada – but Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada did not conduct their own assessment, despite a cabinet directive requiring such an investigation be done.
[…] Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s admission comes the same day delegates at the Canadian Federation of Agriculture voted 81 per cent in favour of lobbying the federal government to impose a moratorium on the pasture transfers until producers are consulted.
With a new party in the decision-making seat, groups are calling on the federal government to delay the pasture transition.
Saskatchewan Pasture Transfers Should be Delayed: Conservation Groups
“What we want is an assurance of protection for the grasslands,” said Ignatiuk.
“Right now, the transfer agreements are divesting to the province and the patrons associations (will eventually) take them over … but there’s really no long-term assurance that those lands will be protected.”
Ignatiuk said his group has no objection to grazing, a practice that’s compatible with the Nature Saskatchewan’s conservation objectives.
There are 4 days left to fill out the Saskatchewan government’s survey on farmland ownership, which closes on August 10th.
The survey is located at
“Paper copies are available at Ministry of Agriculture Regional Offices and can be requested by calling the Agriculture Knowledge Centre at 1-866-457-2377
. An education document accompanies the survey to give participants information regarding the existing legislation surrounding farmland ownership in the province.”
Leader Post article on Consultation process
CBC cites criticism of survey being open to foreign influence.
From the Western Producer:
The turning point was a meeting about the pastureland issue at last week’s convention that attracted about 60 RMs and a few SARM directors.
It became clear at that meeting that SARM would now be taking the issue seriously and would be lobbying the province to come to some sort of agreement with the affected RMs.
Still at Home on the Range: “It’s a risky way to make a living, but some career cowboys are finding ways to adjust after the Conservative government scrapped the Community Pastures Program in 2012” says Andrea Hill for the Star-Phoenix.