Tuesday, August 6, 2013

New website for pasture patrons (and a video with some inspiring images)

pasture patron meeting, January 23, 2013 (from CPPAS website)
The Community Pastures Patrons Association of Saskatchewan (CPPAS), which has the support of committees from the majority of the federal community pastures being transferred to Saskatchewan, has put together a website. It has photos, their mission statement, membership information, links and news, including coverage of their recent media release, where they asked for another year to work out the details of the transition.

The patrons whose cattle have been grazing these 62 pastures in the province--some of them for generations--have the greatest personal stake in what ends up happening to them. The strange thing about the position the patrons are in is that we all know that they have that personal connection to the pastures and so we are all keen to say we support them or listen to what they are saying. Both conservationists who favour public ownership as well as the larger cattle interests who want to see the province privatize or lease the pastures will often refer to the pasture patrons and say they believe the patrons should be listened to. But is anyone really listening to what they have to say? This website is a chance to hear them without any interference from the other interests out there. Making and maintaining websites takes work for anyone but for a group of mixed farmers and ranchers who are busy haying and getting ready for the fall, doing something like this in their spare time is a sign that they would like to be heard.

The patrons I have met have varying views on ownership versus leasing, but I think it is fair to say that a majority prefer the pasture system continuing in a model similar to what has existed under the PFRA (Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration) system. Anyone who claims they are listening to the patrons must begin by listening to the members of CPPAS who have made it clear that the Province and the Federal Government have not been giving them the information they need to make any decisions or plans.

Here is a news release quote from Joanne Brochu, a patron from Colonsay whose organizing efforts got CPPAS underway originally: "The community pasture system has been in place for three generations.It is not reasonable for governments to expect patrons to pull together business plans during the four busiest months of the growing season especially in light of the list of outstanding issues yet to be resolved by governments."

Meanwhile, here is a four minute video montage from the BirdLife International Tour of the PFRA pastures that PPPI (Public Pastures-Public Interest) organized in June. The footage includes shots from the Val Marie Community Pasture, the largest pasture in the system at more than 90,000 acres. The bison shots come from nearby Grassland National Park. No voices other than the wordless testimony of the grass and the birds. The video was put together by Red Hat Studios of Regina.

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