The Canadian Federation of Agriculture wants the federal government to delay by a year its plan to get rid of or close its tree farm at Indian Head, Sask., this year.
A resolution approved at the CFA’s late February annual meeting called on Ottawa to continue funding the tree farm until 2014 “to allow sufficient time for the development of an alternative business plan for the prairie shelter belt program or a similar type of program.”
Doug Chorney of Keystone Agricultural Producers and Norm Hall of the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan argued for the delay.
“Losing this farm is a real loss,” said Chorney. “The resolution says give us some time.”
Hall also challenged the government decision to get out of the tree nursery business by Sept. 1 when agriculture minister Gerry Ritz appeared at the CFA convention Feb. 27.
He said prairie farm groups are interested in forming a co-operative to take over the tree farm, but they need an additional year to get their business proposal together.
He said the government has made little information available that farmers can use to create a business plan, including what the government will put up for sale at Indian Head.
Ritz said he is interested in talking to anyone interested in the tree farm operation but made no commitment to extend the deadline.
In a later interview, Hall said it is frustrating.
“Since last year’s budget, he (Ritz) has said there are other groups interested, but nothing has come forward and we have no information about it,” he said.
“We know we can get together a prairie-wide group to make a proposal, but we need more time and information.”
He said rural municipalities are pressing the provincial government to organize a steering committee on the issue.