Current patrons of the Saskatchewan Pastures Program (SPP) will have the option to lease pastures as the program phases out over the next three years.
“After considering the input received through the public engagement process, we have determined that 15-year leases will be offered to interested patron entities,” Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart said. “This approach will ensure continued grazing opportunities and environmental stewardship of the land.”
The farm pasture program was created in 1922 to provide supplementary grazing to Saskatchewan’s livestock producers. In the most recent budget, it was announced the pasture program would no longer be operated by the provincial government.
The long-standing program includes 50 pastures across the province that provide ranchers with access to Crown land. In 2015, it supported roughly five per cent of the provincial beef cattle herd. Thirteen pastures in northwestern Saskatchewan will transition from the SPP for the 2018 grazing season. Another 19 pastures will transition for the 2019 season, and the remaining 18 pastures by 2020.
The Ministry of Agriculture said more than 70 per cent of the 2,000 people who completed a survey during the consultation process were in favour of the leasing option. It also said the leases will allow continued access for hunting, including the exercise of rights and traditional uses by First Nations and Metis communities.
While Saskatchewan Stock Growers have come out in favour of the province's plan, The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) feels it can offer ranchers a better deal. According to a media release, the FSIN fears ranchers will not be able to make ends meet. An impending carbon tax, coupled higher pasture lease fees might make it difficult to turn a profit. Because of First Nation people's Inherent and Treaty rights, The FSIN believed the 33 Treaty Land Entitlement (TLE) First Nations should manage the lands. The TLE First Nations would maintain the pastures' ecological value and continue to subsidize local farmers.
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