|pasture patron Clint Christianson speaking to the Atwood tour on Val Marie PFRA pasture this June (image courtesy of Branimir Gjetvaj (see branimirphoto.ca)|
This week the Community Pastures Patrons Association of Saskatchewan (CPPAS) put out a news release that outlines the frustration of their members as well as some clear points for how things should be handled. Though the Province claims to be listening to patrons and says that they want the patrons to take over management of the pastures, they need to give the patrons terms that will allow them to retain and employ the kind of skilled managers that have been critical to the ecological sustainability of the PFRA lands. If the leasing structure and rates are set too high, the patrons will not be able to afford to pay for co-mingled management and the pastures will become like co-op pastures, which unfortunately are often poorly managed and overstocked. The feared "Tragedy of the Commons" will result, degrading lands that have been among the continent's richest grassland remnants.
Here is a version of the news release printed in the Southwest Booster of Swift Current area but the following points from the release show some of what CPPAS and its members are asking for. Most of the Province's conservation groups would support these terms, and yet the Province is still resisting. If the cattle producers who use the pastures and the conservation NGOs in the province as well as many other public interest groups would support these terms, why can't the Province find a way to make it work? Is there some other agenda here that we are not being told about?
1. Maximize the number of existing pasture patrons who are able to continue receiving summer grazing on the Community Pastures.2. Ensure that the community pastures remain financially sustainable in the long run, in order to provide supplemental grazing on an equitable basis to Saskatchewan livestock producers.3. Ensure that our community pasture's productive capacity is maintained by effectively managing stocking rates and grazing plans, using professional pasture managers.4. Retain the public benefit of our community pasture by maintaining the environmental integrity and bio-diversity of our community pasture, as well as maximizing the carbon sequestration potential through effective grazing management.5. Allow continued access for non-agricultural activities on our community pasture such as hunting and grassland research, in a matter compatible with the grazing management plan for the community pasture.