The Governments of Canada and Saskatchewan have teamed up to bolster its Farm Stewardship Program (FSP).
The program, which falls within the Ministry of Agriculture’s Growing Forward 2 umbrella of initiatives, introduced several new Best Management Practices that took effect on April 1.
The FSP is co-funded by the Canadian and Saskatchewan governments and provides producers in Saskatchewan with financial assistance to implement beneficial management practices (BMPs). These BMPs help maintain the environment and improve the quality of soil, water, air and biodiversity resources.
“It’s a five-year program and it runs from March of 2013 to March of 2018,” said Annette Smith, Agri-Environmental Group Plan (AEGP) technician. She added that producers should check the FSP website for application deadlines, as they vary per project. “But pretty much all (them) have to be wrapped up in the fall of 2017 because of winter.”
To be eligible for a grant, producers must own or control at least 320 acres of farmland in Saskatchewan and earn a minimum of $35,000 of farm income in the province during the year of application. Producers must also have an environmental farm plan that has been endorsed within the last 10 years, or go through the AEGP, which is run by the North Saskatchewan River Basin Council.
“We sit down with the producer and go over some risks on their farm and we issue them a certification of completion,” Smith said. From there, producers can submit their applications for funding.
Of the new BMPs, Smith says that the Plastic Grain Bag Unroller and Used Oil Storage should be most applicable to producers in and around Lloydminster. The government offers a 50 per cent rebate for eligible costs for up to $5,000 for the former, and a 50 per cent rebate for eligible costs for up to $2,000 for the latter.
Smith added that the other BMPs that are most relevant, locally, are the Natural Waterway Erosion Controls, of which the government could fund 75 per cent of eligible costs for up to $30,000, and the Protecting High Risk Erodible and Saline Soils, for which the government offers a 50 per cent rebate for eligible costs for up to $10,000.
The program also allows producers to apply for funding for 90 per cent of eligible costs for well decommissioning, up to a maximum of $10,000 per project.
“There’s abandoned wells on homes that are not being used anymore and lots of them don’t have any covers on them,” Smith said. “Some people don’t even know where they are, lots of people run into them when they’re cultivating because some homes have been bulldozed. People have put dirt and different things down them, but it doesn’t really seal them off and the biggest risk is that it can contaminate the ground water because it’s a direct access to the aquifer.”
More details about the program are available at www.agriculture.gov.sk.ca/GF2-FarmStewardship, which lists the associated costs of each BMP that are and aren’t eligible for coverage by the government. Those with further inquiries are encouraged to contact the North Saskatchewan River Basin Council.