Proper environmental assessment skipped on pasture transfer: Agriculture Canada

February 23, 2016

Kelsey Johnson, 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.

Grassland Tour Aims to Raise Awareness

June 24, 2013

Iryn Tushabe, Leader-Post

“Atwood and Graeme Gibson, another of Canada’s foremost writers, were in Regina on Monday as part of a four-day tour of Saskatchewan grasslands – home to the black-tailed prairie dog, among other wildlife – including Grasslands National Park and former PFRA pastures, which have been returned to provincial control.

The purpose of the tour, which is hosted by Public Pastures-Public Interest (PPPI) and Nature Canada, is to raise awareness of the grasslands and the need for conservation, especially in the wake of the changes in the management of the publicly held lands…”

Community Pasture Benefits Misunderstood

June 7, 2013

Katherine Arbuthnott and Josef Schmutz, Western Producer

“Today, when the profitability of beef production is questioned and the ecological value of grazing is misunderstood, the pastures’ benefits stand firm.

For every $1 spent, the pastures don’t only grow beef. They also generate $2.50 in research, carbon sequestration, watershed protection, specific habitat for species at risk and 12 other documented public benefits….”

Carving the Prairie Commons:

Ranchers divided on federal divestment from community pasturelands

May 23, 2013

Sheldon Birnie, The Dominion

“With such a dramatic change to how the 1.78 million acres of affected land in the province are managed, reaction from ranchers in Saskatchewan has been mixed. Fears of mismanagement have been voiced, as well as the possibility that the land might fall prey to mineral development. Others believe that outright ownership of the land is the only way for ranchers to escape from the current “peasant rancher” relationship with the government….”


For Immediate Release – April 24, 2013


From June 24 to June 27, Margaret Atwood and Graeme Gibson will tour Saskatchewan’s southern grasslands in the company of other international conservation advocates. The group, all prominent figures in BirdLife International, a worldwide partnership of conservation organizations, is hoping to draw attention to the global significance of conservation programming and bird habitat at risk on federal community pastures now being transferred to Saskatchewan.

The event is called “Prairie Passages.” Ms. Atwood, who will be communicating with the media and her 392,000 Twitter followers during and after the tour, has a great love for Canada’s birds and wild places, a bond she developed early in life on long canoe expeditions with her entomologist father, Dr. Carl Atwood.

“The ecological value of these large tracts of unbroken prairie is internationally recognized,” Ms. Atwood said. “We have heard that 16 at-risk bird species on Saskatchewan’s most critical grasslands may be losing their legislative protection and conservation management. That concerns us, as it should concern all Canadians.”

Ms. Atwood added that Saskatchewan’s prairie landscapes and rich bird life is a secret too well kept. “This is a chance to help celebrate Saskatchewan’s grasslands as a destination, so we will be using social and conventional media to highlight the beauty of Canada’s publicly owned and managed grasslands.”

Ms. Atwood and Mr. Gibson decided recently to make time in their summer schedule to come and see for themselves and find out what might be done to bring attention to the plight of these birds and their habitat now hanging in the balance.

A film crew will be filming the tour and interviewing participants as they visit the community pastures to see the birds, while speaking with grazing patrons, pasture managers, conservationists and biologists.

Ms. Atwood and Mr. Gibson have extended invitations to Premier Brad Wall, Saskatchewan Environment Minister, Ken Cheveldayoff and Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart to discuss protecting the species at risk on these public grasslands.

After their three days in the field on a privately led tour, Ms. Atwood and Mr. Gibson will speak at a banquet to be held in their honour at the Hotel Saskatchewan in Regina. ($100 a plate dinner, cocktails 6:30 p.m. Thursday, June 27; dinner served at 7:30 p.m.)

The tour is hosted and co-sponsored by Public Pastures—Public Interest and Nature Canada. For more information and tickets to the dinner, go to the Prairie Passages Tour page.


Margaret Atwood is a novelist, poet, literary critic and one of the world’s best known – and best-selling – authors. A Companion of the Order of Canada, and Fellow of the Canadian Geographic Society, she has written more than 40 books, including The Handmaid’s Tale, Alias Grace, Cat’s Eye and the Booker-Prize winning novel The Blind Assassin. Her most recent novels are Oryx and Crake (2003) and The Year of the Flood (2009).  Ms. Atwood is the recipient of multiple awards, medals and prizes for her writing. Among others, Oryx and Crake was short listed in 2003 for seven awards including the Man Booker Prize, the Giller Prize, and the Orange Prize, while Alias Grace: A Novel won the Giller Prize.

Graeme Gibson is one of Canada’s foremost contemporary writers and editors and is the acclaimed author of Five Legs, Perpetual Motion and Gentleman Death. His most recent work is The Bedside Book of Birds: an Avian Miscellany (2005), “a wonderful collection of poetry and prose, folk tales and myths, which pay tribute to our feathered friends. . . .” (Mail on Sunday (UK)). It was hailed by Globe and Mail as “the most spectacular bird book of the year”.

Gibson is a past president of PEN Canada and the recipient of both the Harbourfront Festival Prize and the Toronto Arts Award, and is a member of the Order of Canada. He has been a council member of World Wildlife Fund Canada, and is chairman of the Pelee Island Bird Observatory in Ontario, Canada.

Nature Canada is a member-based non-profit conservation organization. Its network includes 40,000 supporters and more than 350 naturalist organizations across Canada. Their mission is to protect and conserve wildlife and habitats in Canada by engaging people and advocating on behalf of nature.

Public Pastures—Public Interest draws together rural and urban Canadians who share an interest in conserving the great public grasslands of Saskatchewan. The province’s community pastures are ecological and cultural treasures that belong to all of us. They protect endangered species as well as soil and water quality, and provide cultural, economic and ecological goods and services that reach far beyond the pasture land itself.

The future of natural prairie pastures

April 2013

By Candace Savage, Canadian Geographic

“Last April, the federal government announced its decision to dismantle the pasture program over a five-year period, on the grounds that it has achieved its original goal, “having returned more than 145,000 hectares of poor-quality cultivated lands to grass cover, significantly improving the ecological value of these lands and helping to increase the productivity of the area.”

But according to Branimir Gjetvaj, a director with Nature Saskatchewan, the timing couldn’t be worse. ‘Prairie habitats continue to be degraded and lost,’ he says. ‘That’s why there are more species at risk on the grasslands than in any other part of Canada. We should be doing more to protect prairie, not walking away from it.’…

Province to offer patrons option to lease or purchase

March 30, 2013
“If a patron group chooses to lease, the provincial government will offer a 15-year lease term, the Ministry of Agriculture said in a news release.In addition, the province will provide the use of fixed assets to patrons at no cost, provided patrons perform regular maintenance. These assets include fences, dugouts and cattle-handling facilities.”

More oppose land sale

March 28, 2013

Bruce Johnstone, Leader-Post

“A growing number of organizations are lining up to oppose the provincial government’s plan to sell off all or part of the 1.6 million acres of community pastures that were transferred back to the province by the federal government in last year’s budget.

And the group organizing that opposition, Public Pastures-Public Interest (PPPI), has come up with six principles to guide the management of the 62 federally managed pastures, including continued public ownership, livestock grazing under professional management, and preservation of what has been called ‘the largest blocks of native grassland’ in the country.”

Groups want former federal community pastures in Saskatchewan kept public

March 27, 2013

Canadian Press

“Almost 20 environmental and conservation groups in Saskatchewan want community pastures that used to be overseen by the federal government to remain under public control.”

Adopt Man. Model

March 15, 2013

By Blair McCann, Star-Phoenix

“If the Drainage Protection Act is any indication of the government’s willingness to protect wetlands, we should be concerned. Few, if any, landowners have been disciplined under the act. Governments of any stripe are reluctant to go after a land owner on environment-related issues.

To ensure that these sensitive grasslands are preserved, let’s adopt Manitoba’s model for managing its PFRA lands.”

Public community pastures matter to urban Sask

March 8, 2013

By Katherine Arbuthnott and Brian Sterenberg, Star-Phoenix

“If our economic future is to be based on more than non-renewable resource extraction, preservation of the agricultural and recreational opportunities provided by community pastures is important for all Saskatchewan citizens.”

Public grasslands could soon be private

March 7, 2013

By Lisa Johnson, Planet S

“The ship is sailing and there’s no direction,” said Ian McCreary of the Community Pasture Patron’s Association at a recent public forum in Saskatoon, which was organized by Public Pastures – Public Interest, a non-profit group that wants to conserve public grasslands.

Pasture patron says provincial package is just too costly

March 4, 2013
By Scott Larson, Star-Phoenix

The package being offered by the provincial government to pasture patrons to take over Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration (PFRA) community pastures is just too costly, says Ian McCreary.

McCreary, a farmer and pasture patron, is president of the newly formed Community Pasture Patrons Association of Saskatchewan, spoke recently in Saskatoon at a forum about the fate of PFRA lands.

“Right now patrons pay 76 cents per cow/calf pair (for the 2014 grazing season) in total for the entire service,” he said. […]

“The cattlemen that are at the table figure if we can’t stay under a dollar per head per day, we can’t sustain it.”

It’s expensive to save that pasture money

February 26, 2013

By Paul Hanley, Star-Phoenix

While saving money seems the whole point of cutting what everyone agrees is an excellent program, the irony is that by eliminating it, we ultimately stand to lose at least a portion of the $33 million in net benefits currently generated by the program….

Pasture patrons fail to sway at SCA

February 8, 2013

By Karen Briere, Western Producer

Some federal pasture patrons came away frustrated from the recent Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association annual meeting.

Only one of three resolutions they put on the floor during the meeting was passed, and the chair of the new Community Pasture Patron’s Association of Saskatchewan says the challenge ahead is to bring attention to all the issues surrounding the pastures….

Sask. pasture users want transfer delay

February 1, 2013

By Karen Briere, Western Producer

Cattle producers using federal community pastures in Saskatchewan want to delay the transfer of the first 10 from government to users…The federal government had agreed to a delay until 2014 and would have to approve an extension to 2015….

Grazing patrons form new association

January 25, 2013

By Scott Larson, Star-Phoenix

Delaying the transfer of the first 10 community pastures is one of the first items on the agenda of the newly formed Community Pasture Patron’s Association of Saskatchewan.

The grazing patrons formed the new association at a meeting in Saskatoon this week in response to the federal government’s decision to transfer 62 community pastures (1.6 million acres of land) to the provincial government….

Saskatchewan pasture patrons seek to negotiate solutions for PFRA lands

January 23, 2013

By Jane Caulfield, Metro News

They say they are fighting for a blade of grass.

But for the farmers and ranchers, who met in Saskatoon Wednesday to discuss future management of once crown-owned community pasture land, that blade of grass means the world.

“(We) are here to collect information and discuss the possibility of working together as pasture patrons to negotiate the best possible solution for pasture patrons,” said Ian McCreary, a member of the steering committee for the all patrons meeting….

Pasture patrons form association.

January 23, 2013

By Neil Billinger,

The new organization, known as the Community Pasture Patron’s Association of Saskatchewan, was formed during a meeting of 250 cattle producers on Wednesday in Saskatoon….

Demise of grazing land program presents challenges, opportunities

January 23, 2013

By Bryn Levy, CKOM

At a meeting held in Saskatoon, around 250 ranchers expressed their concerns about the end of a 75-year-old federal program….

Changing Canada

January 22, 2013

By Russell Lahti, Star-Phoenix

Ottawa’s decision to gradually drop the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration’s community pastures program at first seemed to be an innocuous move, especially to a person such as me for whom life on the farm is only a distant memory….

Crown ownership of pastures works

January 23, 2013

By Pat Atkinson, Star-Phoenix

…At the moment, the “patrons” of the community pastures are organizing because they are concerned about the sale of these Crown lands. For many farmers and ranchers, the use of community pastures to graze their livestock is imperative to the viability of their cattle or mixed farm operations….In an effort to inform the public, organizers are reaching out to hunters, community veterinarians, cattle auctioneers, employees of the community pastures and citizens interested in endangered species and the environment. While the Wall government seems to think that only land users should be involved in the discussions about the “transition process” regarding their pastures, it seems farmers feel otherwise….

Group demands
 government keep crown pastures

January 18, 2013

By Karen Briere, Western Producer

A group that recently formed to urge the Saskatchewan government to keep former federal community pastures is not opposed to grazing, a spokesperson said last week.

Trevor Herriot, well-known conservationist and author, said Public Pastures-Public Interest just wants to make sure the grasslands continue to serve broader interests as well…

Community pasture transfer still cause for debate

January 15, 2013

By CTV Saskatoon

With more than 1.5 million acres of federal community pasture to be turned over to the Province of Saskatchewan by 2018, some producers, farm groups, and conservation organizations are sounding the alarm…

Protection of Species at Risk Eroded

January 11, 2013

By Andrea Olive, Star-Phoenix

While the sale of pasturelands is a very complex issue that goes far beyond matters of property ownership, I am confused by Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart’s claim that species at risk would be protected by “two pieces of provincial legislation and one federal law in place to protect wildlife.”

To which laws is he specifically referring? Certainly it cannot be the Saskatchewan Wildlife Act or the federal Species at Risk Act.

The wildlife act is intended to regulate hunting. It was amended in 1998 to create an almost entirely discretionary process for protecting species at risk. Only 23 per cent of Saskatchewan’s endangered species are listed on the wildlife act and even then the habitat the species require for survival is not protected…

PPPI wants P3 for pastures

January 8, 2013

By Bruce Johnstone, Leader-Post

A new group concerned about the future of the 1.6 million acres of community pastures Ottawa returned to the province is joining the fight to have these lands retained by the Crown and managed for the benefit of livestock producers and grassland conservation.

The province’s minister of agriculture, meanwhile, says he’s baffled by the group’s arguments, saying measures to protect the land are already in place.

From Dustbowl to Riches

November 29, 2012

By Kristen McEwen, The Carillon

Best-selling author, Candace Savage, spoke at the University of Regina last week, not to promote her books, but to raise awareness about the fate of the grasslands, where so many of her stories are set….

Sale of community pastures opens door to abuse

November 27, 2012
By Paul Hanley, Special to The StarPhoenix

Opposition is growing to the Saskatchewan government’s plan to sell 1.6 million acres of Crown land that has long been part of the federal PFRA community pasture program. … Despite provincial assurances that the land will remain in the hands of the current patron ranchers, and that ecological values will be protected, the alarm is sounding that future owners could mismanage the land once PFRA involvement disappears….

November 26, 2012
By Joe Couture, The StarPhoenix
REGINA — Provincial Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart says he’s confident that patron groups will embrace the government’s plans for former PFRA community pastures, despite the apparent opposition from some industry organizations….
November 24, 2012
By David Fraser, Leader-Post

The future of 1.6 million acres of public pastures set to be sold by the provincial government was the topic of discussion on Friday… Many of the stakeholders were concerned the province didn’t consult them….

(Manitoba) Community Pasture Takeover Plan Revealed

November 15, 2012
By Daniel Winters,
A steering committee for the Association of Manitoba Community Pastures, a new not-for-profit group, has developed a business plan for taking over the operation of a million acres of formerly federally managed grazing rangelands in the province.

2 Responses to “News”


  1. Busy weekend for pasture news | Pasture Posts - April 1, 2013

    […] News […]

  2. Atwood and Gibson Visiting Community Pastures | Pasture Posts - April 24, 2013

    […] News […]

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