The event will bring together stakeholders to identify solutions to issues facing the livestock sector
By Diego Flammini
The Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan (APAS) is hosting a livestock summit next month to identify how to support the sector.
The event, scheduled for April 5 at the Saskatoon Inn, will bring together farmers and other stakeholders to discuss the issues and possible solutions for cattle, bison and sheep producers.
“Our membership has identified that there’s issues in the livestock industry in this province and felt it necessary to organize this summit to understand these issues,” Bill Prybylski, vice-president of APAs and a grain and livestock producer from Yorkton, told Farms.com.
The livestock population is among the challenges in the sector.
Saskatchewan farms had 1.037 million head of cattle on Jan. 1, 2023, Stats Canada data shows.
But that number is down from 1.056 million head in January 2022 and down further from 1.091 million head in January 2021.
“There’s been a significant decline,” Prybylski said. “Some of that is due to the drought that has been very persistent. But there’s also a financial aspect too. When a producer can recognize the value of crops on a given piece of ground, knowing they’re not making a whole lot of money raising cattle, it’s tempting to convert that land into annual crop production.”
Another challenge for producers is the cost of production.
Prybylski says he’s been lucky to have a good hay crop, but the rising costs of other inputs cuts into his bottom line.
“We haven’t had to buy any feed, but when you look at the cost of fuel, machinery and repairs, our returns at the end of the day have certainly been declining,” he said. “We can justify having cattle, even if we’re only breaking even, because we have ground that isn’t suitable to anything other than cattle.”
The summit on April 5 will feature multiple guest speakers.
The lineup includes representatives from Farm Credit Canada, the University of Alberta and a farmer panel.
The variety of speakers shows that supporting the livestock sector will take collaboration, Prybylski said.
“There’s no one silver bullet that’s going to fix the problems in the cattle industry,” he said. “It’s going to take effort from all the parts in the industry, from producers, to processors to research. We have to find solutions that are workable and long lasting.”
People interested in attending the summit must register.
Attending will cost $125 for the day and lunch is included.