APAS calls for a committee dedicated to preparing for and resisting drought.

The Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan (APAS) is calling for the creation of a Drought Preparedness Committee.

With many regions of Saskatchewan still facing challenges from drought, APAS is asking for the creation of a Provincial Drought Preparedness Committee. In a letter to Minister of Agriculture David Marit, APAS President Ian Boxall emphasizes the need for measures to lessen the impact drought has brought on farmers, ranchers, and rural communities.

“The impact of drought on our province’s agriculture sector can be devastating, affecting farmers and ranchers, our rural communities and the overall economy,” Boxall says in a press release. “The recent increase in frequency and severity of drought events underscores the pressing need for immediate action to better prepare for these challenges.”

The committee APAS requests could serve several important functions, including early warning and mitigation, resource allocation, collaboration with other organizations, and long-term planning for
potential droughts in the future.

“We welcome the recent enhancements to crop insurance forage and rainfall programs. Features like multiyear yield cushioning and greenfeed conversion provide crucial tools to safeguard production amid multiyear droughts,” says Boxall. “The proposed Committee could monitor program participation, distribute information, and explore further changes to better equip farmers in managing weather challenges
and making informed decisions.”

Even as recent snowfall has provided relief to some, Prince Albert having received 8.7 cm of snow on Sunday, other areas across Saskatchewan still continue to deal with the lasting effects of the multiyear drought. The need for precipitation to replenish moisture in the soil remains important, underlining the severity of the situation.

“Business risk management programs play a vital role in safeguarding farm viability against weather-related production risks.” Boxall adds.”Recurring droughts can significantly impact access to these programs through increased premium costs and reduced coverage, particularly for farm operations already operating on narrow profit margins.”

Boxall ends the letter by urging Minister Marit to prioritize being resilient and prepared for drought ahead of the 2024 growing season. APAS says in a press release that the making of a Drought Preparedness Committee, partnered with multiyear yield cushioning, are seen as a strategic approach to defend Saskatchewan agriculture against the rising threat of a future drought.

When contacted by the Daily Herald about APAS’ concerns, the Ministry of Agriculture sent a statement saying they will develop a Provincial Drought Plan that will be included in the Provincial Emergency Management Plan once complete. The ministry says this will aid in creating a cross-agency operational task team to respond to drought.