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Ag spending reduced in Sask. budget

Ag spending reduced in Sask. budget

The ministry will have $22 million less to spend in 2020-21

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister David Marit will have less money in his ministry’s portfolio in 2020-21.

The ministry of agriculture will have $368.9 million to spend in the next fiscal year, Finance Minister Donna Harpauer’s budget document said Wednesday. That figure is down from $391.3 million in 2019-20 and represents about a six per cent reduction in spending.

A large portion of the spending reductions came from shifts in business risk management (BRM) programming.

Saskatchewan will spend $244.3 million on BRM programs in 2020-21, down from $271.8 million the year prior.

That decline reflects lower program enrollment, said Todd Lewis, president of the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan.

“There’s money the province isn’t putting into BRM programming but that’s not necessarily a decision of theirs – it’s just the math,” he told Farms.com. “Low commodity prices mean lower AgriStability payments, so naturally there’s going to be less money paid out.”

One ag-related item in the budget that received a spending boost is irrigation.

Saskatchewan allocated $5 million to identify potential irrigation expansion.

“The money is going to be used to study where the best places are that would be adaptable to irrigation,” Bill Huber, president of the Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association, told Farms.com. “The good news about that is the (government) realizes the necessity for irrigation in certain parts of the province to commit to its 2030 growth plan to produce more beef and cereal crops for exports.”

Most of the overall provincial budget spending is going towards health care.

The ministry of health will receive $5.77 billion and the Saskatchewan Health Authority will receive a $3.74-billion grant this year. Those figures represent $211-million and $140.6-million increases, respectively.

The funding will be used to help the province’s health care workers manage the spread of the coronavirus.

“We’ve never gone through anything like this,” Huber said. “I have to appreciate the government’s position because (the outbreak) has really changed the whole landscape of planning for income and expenses. But we’ve got a government that’s dealing with these challenges the best way it can.”

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