The Government of Canada announced in the 2012 Budget that it would shift responsibility for 900,000 hectares of community pasture to the prairie provinces over six years, starting in 2013.
There are 24 community pastures in Manitoba, 61 in Saskatchewan and 2 in Alberta. These grass and rangelands were transferred to federal government management in the 1930s as part of a soil conservation program.
Consultants hired to measure the costs and benefits of the community pastures determined in 2006 the program generated private and public benefits amounting to $58.3 million annually. Producers pay almost all of the program costs through fees paid to graze about 220,000 cattle on the pastures.
The Canadian Cattlemen's Association (CCA) is calling on Ottawa to delay its plan to transfer management of 900,000 hectares of community pasture to the prairie provinces.
"The environmental benefits that we get off of the community pastures is very beneficial not just for agriculture but for all of society. It has been positive for our industry and we would hate to see it disappear," says CCA President Martin Unrau.
Manitoba community pastures are on provincial public lands. The pastures are often home to listed species or provide important habitat for a range of flora and fauna.
View May 24, 2012 Huffington Post coverage
View May 17, 2012 Saskatoon Star Phoenix coverage
View May 9, 2012 CBC News coverage
View May 5, 2012 Winnipeg Free Press coverage
View May 7, 2011 Manitoba Wildlands Reality Check: Community Pastures - Can We Protect These Lands?
Huffington Post, Winnipeg Free Press