Community pastures still open for now

To ensure long-term prosperity for farmers and the entire agricultural value chain, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) is refocusing on the changing priorities of the agriculture industry. Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz today reassured patrons of the Community Pasture Program that all pastures will remain open for the 2012 season.

“No pastures will be affected this grazing season and we will work in collaboration with our provincial partners and with all stakeholders to make sure the transition away from federally operated pastures is as smooth as possible for producers,” said Ritz. “Pastures are now well established in the Prairies. This change will create a great opportunity for provinces, stakeholders or those who use the land to take over pasture management.”

The Community Pasture Program is a land-management service provided on 85 pastures in the Prairie provinces. It was created in the 1930s to reclaim land that was badly eroded during the Prairie drought. Today, the program has achieved that goal, having returned more than 145,000 hectares of poor-quality cultivated lands to grass cover, significantly improving the ecological value of these lands and helping to increase the productivity of the area.

Now that AAFC has informed all unions, management and staff, additional information is available:

  •  This transition will not affect pastures in the upcoming season;
  •  Pastures will be transitioned out of federal management gradually over six years, allowing time for provinces, municipalities, users and other stakeholders to help manage the transition;
  •  AAFC will divest 10 pastures in 2013, followed by additional pastures each year until full divestiture is achieved in 2018;
  •  Grazing and breeding services on remaining pastures will be maintained throughout this period; and
  •  Pasture patrons will receive as much notice as possible.

AAFC has begun discussions with the governments of Manitoba and Saskatchewan (who own 90 per cent of the pasture land) to ensure that the divestiture of the land and the phasing out of the pasture program is undertaken in a manner that optimizes future economic and employment opportunities for the rural communities affected.

AAFC will also work with the provinces, municipalities and the livestock industry to transition the pastures to those with the capacity and expertise to manage them efficiently.

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