(15 March 2012)
There were a couple of big announcements at the annual SARM convention in Regina. We announced that we are partnering with the federal government to provide $1.8 million to help producers and rural municipalities (RMs) control beavers, rats, wild boars and gophers. These animals can be a significant economic liability for our farmers and ranchers and this funding will help them mitigate the damage they cause.
Imagine a line of grain bags stretching from Moose Jaw to Regina. That’s the equivalent of what Saskatchewan farmers recycled in the first year of the Grain Bag Recycling Pilot Project. We announced at the SARM Convention that we are partnering with the federal government to provide another $210,000 to extend this pilot project for another two years.
And, last but definitely not least, Canada’s currently longest-serving provincial Minister of Agriculture announced at SARM that he is stepping down from his position. Bob Bjornerud told delegates that he asked the Premier to leave Cabinet in the next shuffle, expected this summer. Bob Bjornerud was first elected in 1995 and has served the province as Agriculture Minister since the 2007 election. He has been a strong voice for Saskatchewan producers and will be missed.
There was some really great news this week for Saskatchewan’s farm and ranch families. For the first time ever, Saskatchewan’s agri-food exports topped $10 billion. That beats out Ontario as the top agri-food exporting province in Canada. In 2011, the top exports were canola, canola oil and non-durum wheat. We have worked to expand market opportunities throughout the world, including places like India and China. The top five markets for Saskatchewan agriculture products are the U.S., China, Japan, Mexico and India. This accomplishment is thanks to the work of our farmers and ranchers, who are vital to the Saskatchewan Advantage we all enjoy. Our government was proud this week to announce a service that will benefit youth who have nowhere else to turn.
We took part in the official opening of Saskatchewan’s first emergency shelter for youth. The co-ed facility called Downtown Browne’s Emergency Youth Shelter is located in Regina. It will provide a temporary home for 15 youth between the ages of 16 and 18. Shelter is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of services the shelter will offer. The kids will also be able to access programs that will help them either get a job or go back to school. Saskatchewan is enjoying a period of unprecedented economic growth which allows us to use that prosperity to invest in services for society’s most vulnerable citizens.
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