Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart announced the first 10 federal community pastures to be transferred to the province and to patron-controlled operation for the 2014 grazing season. Patrons will have the opportunity to own or lease these pastures.
“Patrons have had cattle grazing these pastures for years; they know this land better than anyone else; they are our best environmental stewards; and they will continue to have access to these lands which are important to their businesses,” Stewart said. “We will continue to work closely with patrons to ensure a smooth transition as they take the steps necessary to operate these pastures.”
The following federal community pastures will transfer to patron operation for the 2014 grazing season: Estevan-Cambria; Excel; Fairview; Ituna-Bon Accord Keywest; Lone Tree; McCraney; Newcombe; Park; and Wolverine.
These pastures were selected primarily based on interest from patrons, proposals received and consultations and discussions with patron advisory committee chairs. Other factors such as land titles and oil and gas activity were also considered. The 10 pastures selected are best suited for a successful transition to the patrons by 2014.
The Governments of Canada and Saskatchewan are working on a memorandum of understanding that will ensure federal staff continue to manage all 10 pastures through the 2013 grazing season. This will give patrons more time to plan and prepare for this transition and to assume operating these 10 pastures in 2014. Ministry of Agriculture staff will
meet and work with patrons throughout the transition process.
“For many producers in this area, pastures are important to their operations,” Chair of the patron advisory committee for the Ituna-Bon Accord Community Pasture Aaron Ivey adds.
“I believe producers will welcome the opportunity to take more control of their pastures at a local level. This transition can ensure they have access to the grazing into the future.”
In May, an industry advisory committee was formed to provide advice and recommendations on this transition. The following recommended principles will guide the transition of these pastures to patron groups:
• Pasture patron groups will have the opportunity to own/lease each pasture;
• Each pasture will be maintained as a complete block;
• Any sales will be based on market value; and;
• Any sale of native prairie land will be subject to no-break and no-drain conservation easements.
Conservation easements are permanent and stipulate that the land is not broken or drained. These easements will ensure this land continues to be used for grazing, as it has been for many years previously. Saskatchewan already has thousands of acres protected by conservation easements and producers continue to demonstrate their respect for the land. In addition, the federal Species At Risk Act is enforced on both privately- and publicly-owned land and will continue to be in effect on these pastures.
There are 60 federal community pastures in Saskatchewan, which will be transferred to the province and to patron controlled operation by 2018. The Saskatchewan Government continues to work with Farm Credit Canada to develop workable financing options for patron groups interested in purchasing their pasture.