By Neil Billinger
Published: FCC Express, April 5, 2013

photo credit: FarmStart

The Saskatchewan government is getting positive feedback about two new measures to help with leasing community pastures.

Sixty community pastures are being transferred from federal to provincial control. The provincial government states that if a patron group decides to lease rather than purchase the land, the province will offer a 15-year lease term.

Patrons will also be able to use fixed assets at no cost as long as regular maintenance is provided. The fixed assets include fences, dugouts and cattle handling facilities.

Prior to the announcement, pasture patrons had been told they would be required to purchase the fixed assets. The federal government has indicated those assets will be transferred to the provincial government at no cost.

Patrons also have the option to purchase these improvements at zero per cent over the term of their lease, if they want to gain equity, the province states.

“This gives the groups flexibility to make decisions that fit their own individual situations,” says Larry Grant, a Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association director and a patron at the Val Marie pasture.

Ian McCreary, president of the Community Pasture Patrons Association of Saskatchewan, says making these assets available at no charge is an important step towards making these pastures viable for patrons. He credits to Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart for working with patrons, but adds there are still concerns.

“(Saskatchewan) patrons are still being asked to pay more for the land than community pasture patrons in either Manitoba or Alberta,” McCreary says. “We need to review the numbers further.”

CPPAS, which represents 36 member pastures, says the transfer process should not be rushed so issues such as pasture management can be addressed. The provincial government says local patrons will be responsible for those expenses.

It was previously announced that patron groups can access up to $120,000 to assist with the cost of establishing legal entities and developing business plans.

The first 10 pastures will move to provincial control next year.

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