SWIFT CURRENT, Sask. — The Saskatchewan government just raised the bar for livestock producers and that’s a good thing.
The province is now targeting livestock cash receipts of $2.5 billion by 2025 in its updated growth plan.
Shelley Jones, manager of the agriculture ministry’s Ag Knowledge Centre, said previous targets had been met and it was time for a refresh.
The previous plan for 2020 aimed for $2 billion in livestock cash receipts. That has been realized every year since 2014, Jones told the Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association annual meeting.
Other goals for crop production and export receipts have also been surpassed.
“The ministry has raised the bar on our growth plan targets and we believe we can realize $2.5 billion in livestock cash receipts by 2025,” Jones said.
That figure was already surpassed in 2014 and 2015 when receipts were $2.7 billion each year, but Jones said the idea is to see a sustained level of receipts.
“The livestock and forage strategy guides the ministry’s plan of action to get there,” she said.
The government’s role is to lead in legislation, research and development, trade efficacy, and knowledge and technology transfer, she said.
It will partner with industry and producers to earn public trust.
Modernization of the regional extension model, implemented in 2009, also factors into the strategy.
Jones said client surveys and focus groups suggested changes to extension that will see the old model of a livestock, forage, crops and farm business management specialist in each office.
“In the new model, our livestock specialists have become livestock and feed specialists,” she said.
The forage specialists have been split to become either range management or agri-environmental specialists. Crop specialists remain, but the farm business management unit was disbanded and the staff are now specialists in agriculture programs.
Jones said livestock- and feed-related inquiries were usually related. Clients asked for more research and technology transfer this year, she said.
Murray Feist, who had been the ruminant specialist at the Ag Knowledge Centre, has relocated to Saskatoon to become the provincial feed specialist.
Range management extension supports stewardship of public and private range land, Jones said. Pasture transition to patron leases has added pressure, and more technology transfer is needed in this area.
Six of the forage specialists are now focusing on native and tame range management.
In terms of agricultural programs, Jones said they were surprised to learn that clients didn’t understand or weren’t aware of a lot of the ministry programs. Seven farm business management specialists now concentrate on programs, and a single farm business management specialist works at the Ag Knowledge Centre.