Ag spending for 2023 is $548.2 million
By Diego Flammini
Saskatchewan’s provincial government is committed to increasing ag spending in 2023.
“The 2023-24 budget includes $548.2 million for the Ministry of Agriculture, a 19 per cent increase from the previous year’s budget to fund programs, services and agricultural research as well as providing business risk management programs,” Finance Minister Donna Harpauer said in her March 22 budget address.
Of the total amount, $408 million will be directed for federal-provincial risk management programs like crop insurance and AgriStability.
And $89.8 million is for strategic initiatives under the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership. That amount includes $38 million for ag research and innovation.
Other ag investments include $1 million to help control invasive weeds on Crown pastures, and increasing the AgriStability compensation rate from 70 to 80 per cent for 2023.
This budget puts Saskatchewan’s ag sector in a position to thrive and be an economic driver for the province, said David Marit, Saskatchewan’s ag minister.
"This budget will help Saskatchewan's farmers, ranchers and agri-business remain competitive and operate sustainably while continuing to deliver safe, high-quality food,” he said in a statement.
Industry groups are pleased with the budget’s contents.
The provincial government did a good job of investing in programs and helping keep farmers profitable, said Grant McLellan, CEO of the Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association.
“When you look at the increases to programs like (Farm Ranch Water Infrastructure Program) already announced, and no new taxes, this budget does a good job of providing reliable support for our livestock sector,” McLellan said in a press release.
The Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) also welcomes the budget.
The Province is investing $55.5 million in healthcare to help recruit 250 full-time positions in rural and remote communities.
Another $7 million will help establish the Saskatchewan Marshals Service to increase policing capacity in rural and remote areas.
And Crown corporations are investing $2.1 billion to help bring fibre internet to rural customers.
These investments “will go a long way to support the continued economic growth and livelihood in rural Saskatchewan; and the entire province,” Ray Orb, president of SARM, said in a statement.
The Saskatchewan NDP oppose Minister Harpauer’s budget.
The provincial government’s plans don’t meet the needs of struggling families, said Trent Wotherspoon, the NDP’s finance and agriculture critic.
“This budget offers no new cost of living relief for families struggling to pay their bills at the end of every month, not a stitch of relief,” he said, the Regina Leader-Post reported.