In wake of the dry pasture conditions only getting dryer with each passing day, the Ministry of Environment has decided to significantly help out Saskatchewan’s cattle producers.
In conjunction with the Ministry of Agriculture, the province’s Ministry of Environment announced on Tuesday that it will make available approximately 90,000 acres of Fish and Wildlife Development Fund (FWDF) land.
“We think that the conditions this year are certainly of a dire enough level that we had to make some decision as to providing some extra grazing, over-and-above what producers have in their pasture allotment,” said Scott Moe, current minister of advanced education and former minister of environment.
The land, which was purchased through the FWDF, was last made publicly available in 2009. But withour a massive rainfall since the beginning of farming season, or in sight, Moe says the ministry was forced to look at its conservation areas.
“This decision was made in conjunction with the minister of agriculture, Minister Lyle Stewart. He, of course, has his finger on that pulse probably more than we do because he’s the ag. minister. He realized that the situation was to a point where we needed to do something to help out these producers.”
The announcement comes as a huge boost to farmers, whose cattle have suffered from poor pasture conditions.
“We recognize the challenges that dry conditions have created for some cattle producers and are pleased to make this land available for grazing,” Environment Minister Herb Cox said in a statement. “It will offer significant acres for cattle producers, and revenue generated as a result of this initiative will help fund future conservation initiatives.”
The Saskatchewan government will now begin awarding land on a first-come, first-serve basis, with applications being posted online immediately. The province’s environmental offices are also prepared to help farmers with the application process.
A significant portion of the FWDF land comes with water sources and is fenced, though much of it will require temporary fencing or water.
Producers will be responsible for the cost of any construction or necessary improvements to the FWDF land, but will at least have healthy land with which to work.
“We appreciate the Ministry of Environment making these lands available,” said Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart. “The extremely dry conditions of this spring and summer have left many cattle producers searching for additional pasture. This grassland will help producers who are facing a shortage of feed for their cattle.”
In a news release, the Ministry of Environment said that the same grazing lease fees that apply to agricultural Crown land will apply to FWDF land.