Sask. irrigation moves under ag ministry arm

ICDC joins Agri-ARM | The designation will enable it to receive funding to conduct programs and expand irrigated acres

MOOSE JAW, Sask. — Saskatchewan’s Irrigation Crop Diversification Corp. gained more independence this year even as it became part of a provincial network.

ICDC became a provincial Agri-ARM (applied research management) site last spring, joining seven other producer-led organizations in Redvers, Canora, Melfort, Prince Albert, Indian Head, Scott and Swift Current. The producer groups set their own research and demonstration priorities, and several sites carry out the same projects to study the results in different conditions.

Gerry Gross, a senior irrigation agrologist with Saskatchewan Agriculture who works closely with ICDC in Outlook, said the change came at the provincial government’s request and ICDC’s acceptance.

“It’s getting more independence and more control over their programs,” he said at the ICDC annual meeting Dec. 5.

ICDC was formed in 1996 under the provincial Irrigation Act. Gross said the government wanted research and extension activities specifically for irrigators to develop more irrigated acreage.

The government appointed two members to the ICDC board, which also included representatives from irrigation districts, and participated in its research.

ICDC became an Agri-ARM under the agriculture ministry’s research branch under a memorandum of understanding April 1.

“That designation as an Agri-ARM site enables ICDC to receive annual funding of $50,000 to conduct their programs,” Gross said.

“The condition of getting that designation and the $50,000 is that the ICDC board has to incur some of the expenses and conduct some of the activities that were previously provided by the provincial government.”

For example, ICDC funds its own per diems and accounting services. Gross said that is appropriate because the organization also contracts staff to carry out most of its programs.

“It’s making it more of a business relationship between the ministry of agriculture and ICDC,” he said.

ICDC will have to raise money to carry out more work. It charges a levy of 35 cents per irrigated acre for income of $35,000 per year. It will also be able to access funds from private companies and institutions that want it to carry out research for them.

The organization is projecting a $42,800 deficit this year but will cover it from a reserve fund.

Gross said increasing communication with other research organizations will benefit everyone.

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