A conference is underway in Regina to explore the topic of how land owners can be compensated for Ecological Goods and Services. The conference is co-sponsored by APAS, the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan. Farmers and ranchers provide many services for the public good. In addition to carbon sequestration, proper stewardship of the land base provides watershed protection, erosion control and wildlife habitat. There have been pilot projects on ecological goods and services in a number of locations across the country. In Manitoba, producers in the Rural Municipality of Blanchard participated in a multi-year project and were compensated for retaining potholes for waterfowl and for protecting riparian areas and sensitive land. A driving force in this whole concept has been Ian Wishart, the president of Manitoba’s Keystone Agricultural Producers. Wishart is presenting at the conference underway in Regina and he points out that now is an opportune time to press the federal government on this issue. In the last budget, the feds announced $500 million over five years would be allocated to something called Agri-Flex. They’ve indicated this money won’t be spent on the existing farm income safety net programs and that it must be trade neutral. It would make a lot of sense to use these funds to initiate a program to compensate farmers and ranchers for ecological goods and services. I’m Kevin Hursh.

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Kevin Hursh, PAg, CAC