Thursday, January 24, 2013

Pasture Patrons have their first meeting

Yesterday in Saskatoon, more than two hundred patrons of the federal community pastures got together for a meeting to look at their options in the light of the Province's plans to dispose of the 62 former PFRA pastures. [Note--by "pasture patrons", we mean the folks who have been paying fees to graze their livestock on the publicly owned community pastures. They and the pasture staff have the greatest personal stake in the future of this land being put up for sale and lease.]

I was not able to attend, but reports have been trickling in from those who were there. Right now it is difficult to ascertain exactly what transpired, but I am sure we will find out in the days ahead. Mr. Lyle Stewart, our provincial Agriculture minister, was there to present the official position of his government, and to answer questions from the patrons. There were presentations from a cattle producer in Manitoba where they have already formed an association of patrons and worked with the province to devise the outline of a plan to retain the pastures under the Crown and manage them retaining existing pasture management staff. Apparently, the Manitoba patrons have formed a non-profit corporation to manage the program. They have a business plan and have retained accounting, business and wildlife management staff.

That certainly sounds like an approach that our newly formed Saskatchewan patrons association might want to take a close look at. Of course, they would need the co-operation of the Province. I hope that Mr. Stewart will sit down with representatives from the new patrons association and recognize them as a legitimate group that represents the interests of patrons. Mr. Stewart has apparently talked about negotiating with the individual pasture patron committees one by one and pasture by pasture, but the patrons' position as a whole will be much stronger if they stick together and insist on negotiating a plan that will work for all of the pastures and their patrons. United they stand . . . .etc.

This coming Monday, at 12:35 on CBC Radio One's Blue Sky, the phone-in show will be all about the community pastures issue. Laura Stewart, with Public Pastures-Public Interest, will be in the studio with Garth Materie, answering questions and comments. Should be interesting.

Meanwhile, the Saskatchewan media is doing a good job of covering the story. Here are some of yesterday's reports:

Best article summarizing the patrons meeting:
Saskatoon Homepage - Jan 23, 2013 18:04
Written by Neil Billinger    
Other coverage yesterday
NewsTalk 650 CKM Saskatoon – Jan 23, 2013 - First Posted: Jan 23, 2013 3:07pm
Demise of grazing land program presents challenges, opportunities
Reported by Bryn Levy

MetroNews – Jan 23, 2013 – updated 5:56 pm

And, finally, the best piece of journalism on the pastures issues this week was an opinion piece by Pat Atkinson published in the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix:

[here are some more stories gleaned on Saturday morning, Jan 26]:

Star Phoenix, with some good lines from Ian McCreary, the new president of the pasture patrons' association.

western meadowlark nest

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