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Ten Sask. community pastures transferred in late 2013

Cattle producers now using 10 federally operated community pastures in Saskatchewan will need to be ready to run them in 2014, while a community pasture in southern Alberta will leave ranching to join the army.

The federal government on Oct. 19 listed the first 10 Saskatchewan community pastures to be transferred to the provincial government at the end of the 2013 grazing season in November next year, then to “patron-controlled” operation in 2014.

Listed for transfer are the Excel, Keywest and Estevan-Cambria pastures in the Weyburn district; the Wolverine and McCraney pastures in the Watrous district; the Fairview and Newcombe pastures in the Rosetown district; the Park pasture (North Battleford district); Lone Tree pasture (Swift Current); and Ituna Bon Accord pasture (Foam Lake district).

The initial list of 10 stems from the federal government’s plans, in its April 2012 budget, to divest all 87 of its community pasture sites (61 in Saskatchewan, 24 in Manitoba, two in Alberta) by 2018.

The government also announced the community pasture on Canadian Forces Base Suffield, about 45 km northwest of Medicine Hat, Alta., will be closed in 2014.

The Suffield pasture’s land then reverts back to the control of the Department of National Defence, “which will determine its future usage,” the government said.

The pastures’ patrons will have the opportunity to own or lease the pastures, the province said in a separate release Friday. The province added it will work with Farm Credit Canada “to develop workable financing options for patron groups interested in purchasing their pasture.”

“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,” provincial Ag Minister Lyle Stewart said.

The province’s recommended principles for transfer call for each pasture to be maintained as a complete block. Any sales would be based on market value and any sale of native prairie land would be subject to no-break and no-drain conservation easements.

“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,” the province noted.

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