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NEWS ROUNDUP – for Feb. 8, 2010

POLICY

B.C. TASK FORCE LACKS FINANCIAL MUSCLE

The B.C. provincial task force report on ranching released at the end of last year is long on words but short on cash to help out beleagured ranchers.

The report made 45 recommendations to B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell to lighten the regulatory burden on cattle producers.

“It was a challenge all the way through,” says B.C. Cattlemen’s Association (BCCA) president and task force co-chair, Roland Baumann. When the task force was announced last May producers expected to see some financial support for the industry. But government members at the very first meeting made it clear they only wanted to talk about ideas, not money.

“Without money, there will be no meaningful outcome. It is unreasonable to create a task force but not provide the money necessary to implement their recommendations,” says Baumann.

B.C. has lost a third of its cow herd since its peaked in 2004/05.

The task force’s job became one of laying out the problems, determining what could be done, prioritizing the list, and outlining initiatives for when the government is prepared to invest in the beef industry.

While disappointed that there was nothing in the report to help the bottom line immediately, Baumann admits removing unnecessary regulations will make a difference over time.

The 45 recommendations touch on four main areas: access to water, access to sufficient range land and forage, lower-cost animal waste disposal systems, and the Agricultural Land Reserve.

One deals with establishing a process to resolve conficts over water use between fish and agricultural interests in southern B. during periods of drought.

Increasing the term of Crown range grazing leases from 10 years to 20 is recommended to protect producer infrastructure investments on Crown land.

Amendments were put forward for forest management legislation to allow agroforestry initiatives on Crown land, and ensure that the forest offset protocols and the province’s silviculture strategy respect range leases.

Another calls for regional waste-disposal facilities to lighten the costs of disposing of specified risk materials for the province’s 34 abattoirs that have already invested in signifi-cant upgrades to meet current BSE standards.

The BCCA made recommendations to the provincial government last May regarding improvements to the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR). This mandatory agricultural land use zone was implemented in 1973 to secure local food production. It encompasses about five per cent of B.C.’s land mass, taking in private and Crown land suitable for agriculture in various parts of the province.

The BCCA wants the ALR boundaries reviewed to ensure reserved land is in fact suitable for agriculture. The cattlemen are also looking for home site severance of ranch lands within the ALR to ease intergenerational transfers of active ranch operations. Greater flexibility in allowing nonfarm uses is another recommendation to encourage the development of processing industries within the ALR and take advantage of alternative revenue streams such as on-farm energy projects.

BCCA has already initiated discussions about regulatory changes with the Agricultural Land Commission which administers the ALR and is pressing the province to re-establish compensation programs to offset the economic loss caused by current restrictions which cattlemen view as a deterrent to farming ALR lands.

Baumann says the BCCA supports the ALR in principle as long as ranching is allowed by remain viable on

protected lands. Locking land into agricultural zones won’t secure food production without access to water and the people to produce those agricultural goods.

A copy of the report is available on the net at

GRAZING

PASTURE DAYS INSURANCE LAUNCHED IN MANITOBA

Manitoba agriculture minister Stan Struthers announced some revisions to the province’s forage AgriInsurance program last month.

Dollar coverage levels for the province’s 2010 tame hay insurance program are increasing by six per cent while average premiums are declining by five per cent.

Struthers also announced the launch of a Pasture Days Insurance Pilot Program developed in conjunction with the Manitoba Cattle Producers Association, Manitoba Forage Council and Keystone Agricultural Producers. The pilot will investigate the feasibility of protecting livestock producers against having to remove animals from pasture prior to a guaranteed number of days due to drought or excess moisture conditions.

For the past 10 years, Manitoba producers have received basic premium-free Excess Moisture Insurance (EMI) coverage of $50 per acre. That cost the province almost $112

POLICY

B.C. TASK FORCE LACKS FINANCIAL MUSCLE

The B.C. provincial task force report on ranching released at the end of last year is long on words but short on cash to help out beleagured ranchers.

The report made 45 recommendations to B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell to lighten the regulatory burden on cattle producers.

“It was a challenge all the way through,” says B.C. Cattlemen’s Association (BCCA) president and task force co-chair, Roland Baumann. When the task force was announced last May producers expected to see some financial support for the industry. But government members at the very first meeting made it clear they only wanted to talk about ideas, not money.

“Without money, there will be no meaningful outcome. It is unreasonable to create a task force but not provide the money necessary to implement their recommendations,” says Baumann.

B.C. has lost a third of its cow herd since its peaked in 2004/05.

The task force’s job became one of laying out the problems, determining what could be done, prioritizing the list, and outlining initiatives for when the government is prepared to invest in the beef industry.

While disappointed that there was nothing in the report to help the bottom line immediately, Baumann admits removing unnecessary regulations will make a difference over time.

The 45 recommendations touch on four main areas: access to water, access to sufficient range land and forage, lower-cost animal waste disposal systems, and the Agricultural Land Reserve.

One deals with establishing a process to resolve conficts over water use between fish and agricultural interests in southern B. during periods of drought.

Increasing the term of Crown range grazing leases from 10 years to 20 is recommended to protect producer infrastructure investments on Crown land.

Amendments were put forward for forest management legislation to allow agroforestry initiatives on Crown land, and ensure that the forest offset protocols and the province’s silviculture strategy respect range leases.

Another calls for regional waste-disposal facilities to lighten the costs of disposing of specified risk materials for the province’s 34 abattoirs that have already invested in signifi-cant upgrades to meet current BSE standards.

The BCCA made recommendations to the provincial government last May regarding improvements to the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR). This mandatory agricultural land use zone was implemented in 1973 to secure local food production. It encompasses about five per cent of B.C.’s land mass, taking in private and Crown land suitable for agriculture in various parts of the province.

The BCCA wants the ALR boundaries reviewed to ensure reserved land is in fact suitable for agriculture. The cattlemen are also looking for home site severance of ranch lands within the ALR to ease intergenerational transfers of active ranch operations. Greater flexibility in allowing nonfarm uses is another recommendation to encourage the development of processing industries within the ALR and take advantage of alternative revenue streams such as on-farm energy projects.

BCCA has already initiated discussions about regulatory changes with the Agricultural Land Commission which administers the ALR and is pressing the province to re-establish compensation programs to offset the economic loss caused by current restrictions which cattlemen view as a deterrent to farming ALR lands.

Baumann says the BCCA supports the ALR in principle as long as ranching is allowed by remain viable on

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