The Canadian government is divesting from 2.3 million acres of native grasslands in Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba. These community pastures were created in 1935 under the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act to restore the land following the Dust Bowl of the Great Depression.
Marianne Hladun, Regional Executive Vice-President for the PSAC Prairie Region, joined host Karen Mackintosh on CKUW 95.3 FM’s Mud and Water Radio on Monday, January 28, 2013 to discuss the issue and promote the Protect the Prairie campaign.
“I think the one thing this government has forgotten is that this is not just a program about grazing cattle, it’s about sustainable environmental protection for the land,” Hladun explained.
More than 3,300 patrons (farmers) across Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta bring their cattle to graze on the lands because they don’t have the resources to own their own pasture land.
“The government is saying [the patrons] aren’t paying enough. Instead of looking at possibly increasing costs to reasonable levels, they’re divesting a program that cost the taxpayers nothing, yet its part of their austerity budget to save money. It’s difficult to see their rationale for this.”
In addition to maintaining livestock, the pasture managers and pasture riders care for the health of the land, a crucial task to ensure the long-term viability of the land and the program.
“We need to make sure that the land is maintained and there’s no opportunity for someone to buy it and use it for other purposes, primarily resource extraction.”
Hladun is working with several environmental groups to stop the sell-off of the great national grassland, including the Saskatchewan Environmental Society (SES), Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS), and partners at the University of Saskatchewan.
For more information and to sign the online petition, visit Protect the Prairie.
The Mud and Water Radio interview was inspired by the article “Selling Off Our Prairie Commons” compiled by Donna Danyluk, published in Nature Manitoba News, Vol. 5, Issue 1 – Jan. / Feb. 2013, Page 7. Listen to the full interview on CKUW.