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Saskatchewan's agriculture sector is pleased with this week's budget

This week's provincial budget included a 4.1 per cent increase or $22.4 million for the agriculture budget.

The $1.5 billion agriculture budget includes $431.7 million to fund federal-provincial risk management programs and $89.4 million for strategic initiatives under the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership.

Agriculture Minister David Marit says he's pleased with the agriculture budget with the enhancements they made to the crop insurance file as well as adding another 38 weather stations.

He says he's pleased with the overall budget and what it means not only for producers and his constituents but the province as a whole.

"You know, you look at what we're trying to do and in all aspects of it. Obviously, we do need more schools, we need more healthcare facilities and capacities around that. If you're building those, then you gotta have the people to staff them and work in them. "

He notes one thing he's pleased to see is the increase in the revenue sharing - where a portion of the Provincial Sales Tax goes to communities.

The 2024-25 budget includes a record increase of $42.4 million in revenue sharing.

The Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities was pleased to see that increased funding. 

President Ray Orb says out of the total package of revenue sharing that was collected - RM's will get about 95 million of that funding. 

"So that's a huge benefit I think to RM's that you know could always use the extra money. You know, keeping infrastructure in place, roads and bridges and things like that. "

Among other budget highlights, he was pleased with the budget increase for agriculture,  funding for the Lake Diefenbaker expansion, the increase in weather stations for crop insurance and the freeze in crown land rates.

Orb notes the province is being very strategic in where they targeted their spending.

The President of the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan Ian Boxall agrees.

He says seeing the increase in the agriculture budget shows the importance of agriculture to the province.

APAS applauds the increased funding for risk management programs, and additional measures such as freezing Crown land grazing rates and providing lease discounts which offer some stability to producers facing various risks, especially during challenging times.

Boxall says the expansion of 38 weather stations is a positive step, but there are still areas not covered.

He noted they are disappointed that the budget did not signal progress in working with farm groups and producers to develop a yield cushioning program for those facing multi-year drought and crop yield 

"SCIC currently applies the cap after two consecutive years of below 70 per cent average production. Alberta supports yield cushioning for any year yields fall below 70 per cent. There are many farmers 
experiencing multi-year production losses far below their normal yields and are now faced with increasing premiums and reduced coverage - a challenging situation for farmers."

The Saskatchewan Cattlemen's Association is pleased to see the changes to the Forage Rainfall Insurance program, as well as the increase in the number of weather stations.

They note the expanded options to insure additional forage crops, including greenfeed, mixed forage and silage,  as well as an additional 38 weather stations, should enable producers to select coverage that better reflects the situation on their operations.

SCA Chair Keith Day says changes to Forage Rainfall Insurance clearly indicate that the government listened to producers’ concerns and acted to improve the program.

"It is important that the programs available respond to the situation producers may face.  We thank the government for listening and acting."

CEO Grant McLellan also noted they were pleased with the funding announced for irrigation and the Lake Diefenbaker expansion.

"We took every opportunity available to remind the province of the project’s necessity and importance, and we are pleased to see it moving forward."

The Chair of the Wheat Growers Association, Darryl Fransoo also commented on this week's provincial budget.

He says they are pleased to see the increased funding for agriculture including risk management programs like Crop Insurance and Agri-Stability.

"It is a great assurance to Saskatchewan grain farmers as we plan our 2024 growing season, knowing that these programs will backstop us."

Fransoo points out that grain farming is a key part of the provincial economy, exporting over $20 billion in agri-food products and harvesting over 31 million acres across the province.

"The Saskatchewan Government understands the value that agriculture brings to our economy and hears the needs of grain farmers. "

He adds the Province's stance on the carbon tax is a great step and one that the Wheat Growers support.

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