March 6, 2024 (Regina, SK) - With many regions of Saskatchewan's agricultural sector facing mounting challenges from drought, the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan (APAS) is calling for the establishment of a Provincial Drought Preparedness Committee. In a letter addressed to Minister Marit, APAS president Ian Boxall underscored the critical need for proactive measures to mitigate the devastating impact of drought 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,” said Ian Boxall, APAS president. “The recent increase in frequency and severity of drought events underscores the pressing need for immediate action to better prepare for these challenges."

The proposed Drought Preparedness Committee could serve several critical functions:

1. Early Warning and Mitigation: The Committee would monitor meteorological and climate data to identify early warnings of potential drought conditions. By reviewing and providing input on the province’s drought response plan, policies, and proactive measures, the Committee aims to mitigate the impact of drought on farms and rural communities.
2. Resource Allocation: During drought emergencies, the Committee would facilitate resource allocation to support affected farmers and communities. This includes water development and conservation strategies, extension resources, business risk management program supports, and livestock management.
3. Stakeholder Engagement: The Committee would foster collaboration among government agencies, agricultural organizations, research institutions, and community representatives. By facilitating partnerships and sharing expertise, innovative solutions can be developed to build resilience against drought challenges.
4. Long-Term Planning: The Committee would facilitate long-term planning and investment in infrastructure, technology, and research to enhance adaptive capacity and sustainability in the face of drought.

Furthermore, APAS emphasizes the importance of program flexibility and enhancements to assist farmers in managing drought risks effectively. Features such as multiyear yield cushioning and greenfeed conversion provide additional tools to protect production guarantees against the impact of multiyear droughts on coverage and premium levels.

“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,” emphasized 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.”

While recent snowfall has provided some relief, numerous areas across Saskatchewan continue to grapple with the enduring effects of the multiyear drought. The need for substantial precipitation to replenish soil moisture reserves remains critical, underscoring the severity of the situation.

Boxall added, “Business risk management programs play a vital role in safeguarding farm viability against weather-related production risks. 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.” He emphasizes the imperative to ensure these programs evolve, incorporating tools such as yield cushioning and greenfeed insurance coverage, to assist producers in adapting and managing drought risks effectively.

Boxall concluded the letter by urging the Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister to prioritize drought resilience and preparedness ahead of the 2024 growing season. The establishment of a Drought Preparedness Committee, coupled with measures such as multiyear yield cushioning, are seen as a proactive and strategic approach to safeguard Saskatchewan agriculture against the growing threat of drought.


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