Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Hopeful news: Ottawa is listening!

Progress Community Pasture, which contains one of the last wetlands where
Whooping Cranes nested on the prairie
Tremendous good news today coming out of Ottawa. For the first time in four years, the fate of the PFRA pastures is an issue receiving serious attention in Parliament.

The Federal Standing Committee on Finance, chaired by the Hon. Wayne Easter, has released its recommendations ahead of the budget, which will be announced on March 22nd. The report, available online, contains the following recommendation:
"Recommendation 49 The federal government consider re-establishing the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Program. In this regard, the government should begin by reinstating funding for two initiatives: the publicly owned Community Pasture Program; and the Prairie Shelterbelt Program and Indian Head Tree Nursery." 
There is no indication if that recommendation will bear fruit so we will have to watch the budget next Tuesday to find out. Either way, this is an affirmation of the efforts made by private people and NGOs across Canada in recent months. Groups like Public Pastures--Public Interest, the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan, the National Farmers' Union, Nature Canada, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Nature Saskatchewan, the Alberta Wilderness Association and so many others have been raising the issue at every opportunity.

Since mid-February, hundreds of people have sent letters to the Federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-food Canada, to the Minister of Climate Change and Environment, and to the Prime Minister himself. If you were one of them, thank you for helping. Today's news is proof that your letter struck a chord.

Not quite a moment to celebrate, but perhaps time to say a prayer to the better angels of democracy and good government. Our public grasslands, the rare creatures who depend upon them, and the men and women who manage the grazing, deserve Canada's support. To do otherwise would be to leave some of the nation's most endangered landscapes and ecosystems without any programming to protect them from the vagaries of the marketplace and conserve their rich legacy for generations to come.

Western Meadowlark, by Hamilton Greenwood


  1. This is so important, for the environment, for nature preservation and for jobs!

  2. This will be to late for my pasture. We have already transitioned and spent considerable time and effort to make it possible for the pasture to continue operation in a very similar manner as under the PFRA. It is my opinion that the patrons of this pasture will do as good and possible better a job of managing the grass and all connected to it as our predecessors. We have more at stake. Our livelihood.

    1. Thanks for that comment. That is encouraging to hear and I sincerely hope that whatever happens from here on with the PFRA pastures that it will work in concert with and respect the needs of all pasture patrons--those who have transitioned and those who have not.

  3. Reading the full 2016 Federal Budget there doesn't appear to be anything new for PFRA, Grasslands, or for conservation in Saskatchewan.

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