Forage advocates gather in Saskatchewan

Forage: News Roundup from the September 2016 issue of Canadian Cattlemen

Dave Kerr, a beef producer from Lashburn, is the new president of the Saskatchewan Forage Council, with past-president Kelly Williamson of Pambrun and Sarah Sommerfeld of Outlook as finance chair. The vice-president position was yet to be filled coming out of the annual general meeting following the field day with the Saskatchewan Forage Seed Development Council at the University of Saskatchewan’s Kernen Crop Research Farm near Saskatoon.

A resolution was carried to add two new producer positions on the board, bringing the number to eight, along with six representatives from forage-related organizations (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture, University of Saskatchewan, Ducks Unlimited Canada and a seed company).

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Nathan Siklenka, a beef and forage seed producer from Glaslyn, fills one of two new producer positions with the second yet to be filled.

Garret Hill of Duval replaces Ryan Sommerfeld of Meadstead representing the Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association, and Mike Schellenberg of Swift Current replaces Alan Iwassa representing AAFC. SMA representative Sarah Sommerfeld of Outlook, and Aaron Ivey of Ituna were returned to the board, joining Steve Pylot of Meadow Lake, Tamara Carter of Lacadena, Bruce Coulman and Greg Penner from the U. of S., Allan VanCaeseele (BrettYoung) of Indian Head, Trevor Plews (Ducks Unlimited) of Yorkton, and SMA ex officio Terry Kowalchuck.

Despite a meagre $51,000 operating budget, the SFC leveraged $300,000 in additional funding and project work. Highlights of the past year included sponsoring two demonstration projects, hosting three reclamation workshops and the annual summer pasture tour, as well as co-hosting the Canadian Forage and Grassland Conference at Saskatoon.

SFC executive director Leanna Rousell says activities for the upcoming year will centre around creating more awareness among producers of the SFC’s activities and resources, updating the website to a more user- and mobile-friendly version, and continuing to work with the Saskatchewan Forage Network toward establishing a chair position for forage utilization at the U. of S. to complement the strategic research chair position held by Bill Biligetu.

Saskatchewan Forage Network (SFN) co-ordinator, Janice Bruynooghe of Outlook, was on hand to provided an update on the network’s activities. It was formalized in January 2013, with funding support from the Saskatchewan Beef Industry Development Fund and Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Council to facilitate a collaborative approach to research, technology transfer and industry development for all forage and livestock industry stakeholders. Toward that end, an important role has been helping diverse groups understand one another’s differing needs and supporting the networking capacity of many groups that otherwise don’t have the resources to commit to communications.

The SFN has been instrumental in leveraging additional forage research funding and in elevating the dire concern about the lack of forage research capacity to a level that is being heard and acted upon. It has also had a role in discussions for the new U. of S. Livestock and Forage Centre of Excellence, which has advanced to the stage of tendering for the feedlot part of the project. The SFN is nearing the end of its three-year funding cycle and is seeking industry support to continue.

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