The Leader-Post covers the issue here.
The plan, announced in the provincial budget, is to phase the provincial pasture program out over three years, with 2017 being the last year it fully operates. The program includes 51 pastures operating on 780,000 acres of land.
PPPI Co-Chair Trevor Herriot was interviewed by the CBC on the potential impacts on prairie conservation.
When you privatize public conservation land, you’re severely weakening your ability to create and enforce laws, policies, regulations, if you want to meet prairie for sustainable grassland management. There’s a lot of public interest in these lands
There will be consultations made for the future management of the land with the public, stakeholders, First Nations and Metis communities. An online survey will be available online at www.saskatchewan.ca/pastures from March 27 to May 8.
Katherine Arbuthnott and Joe Schmutz have a nuanced look at the economics of the community pastures, here. Excerpts:
“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.”
“The community pastures are especially attractive for mixed and young farmers. A grain farming family’s small herd went to the federal pasture after calving and before the grain-related workload peaked. In fall ,the cows came home to clean up grain fields, eat non-marketable grain and graze hilly or flooded land.
This integrated approach to ecology, land, time and economics contributed significantly to farm diversification and income. However, it was apparently poorly understood in Ottawa. Does it also need explanation in Regina?”
“What is the solution? If wisdom and democracy are lost in Ottawa, then let’s have a Saskatchewan PFRA community pasture program.”
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?