Two very important town hall meetings are being held in the drought areas west of Saskatoon today and tomorrow. (Monday and Tuesday)
They have been organized by the Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association (SCA), but it is a co-operative effort with the Saskatchewan Stockgrowers Association, Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan (APAS) and Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM).
The first meeting will run from 1:30 to 4:30 this afternoon (Monday) at the Perdue Rec Complex.
There will be another meeting tomorrow afternoon (Tuesday) in Kindersley from 1:30 to 4:30 at the Canalta Inn.
Organizers want to hear firsthand from both livestock and grain producers in these regions.
Grant McLellan, the Executive Director of the Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association, says the meetings will focus on what support programs are available and answer any questions producers may have about accessing those programs, as well as hear what producers need in terms of government support and other programs and how SCA can facilitate that.
“We made a number of requests to the provincial government, we think that we’re seeing progress on those requests — a number of them have been acted on, including the introduction of the yield threshold…and of course a request from the provincial government to seek AgriRecovery funding, as well as the early designation of the livestock tax deferral program,” McLellan said.
“We also know that there are other more creative solutions from our producers and partnerships they have with their neighbours, and we really want to give people an opportunity to come express their frustration, to bring forward suggestions and solutions, and to really give us an opportunity to hear what they are experiencing on the ground,” he added of the upcoming meetings.
In addition to livestock and grain producers — several others will be on hand to listen including staff from the SCA, Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation (SCIC), and the Ministry of Agriculture, as well as elected officials.
“Our diverse agriculture sector here in Saskatchewan is interdependent and we rely on one another, and to get through these challenging times, we’re going to have to have these tough conversations but we’re also going to have to try work together on this,” McLellan added.
He says the big concern is the continued decline of the Saskatchewan cattle herd during yet another drought in west-central and southwestern areas of the province.
“We’ve seen numbers drop from between 5 and 10 percent since 2021 and this is quite likely going to lead to not only a continuation of that trend but an acceleration of that trend,” he noted.
McLellan says a growing number of producers are talking about exiting the cattle business. He stresses measures are needed to help these producers.
“We do need to grow this industry because we know that demand for the quality product that we produce in Saskatchewan is not going down, and the world is only getting bigger in population, and Saskatchewan and Canada really have the answers to provide that much needed protein to the world. We do need to support that industry and not see it shrink because we have a responsibility to the rest of the world to make sure that they got an adequate food supply and a quality food supply,” he said.
All livestock and grain producers in those regions are encouraged to attend.
(With files from CJWW)