Finance co-op set up in Sask.

A producer-led replacement for Saskatchewan’s livestock loan guarantee program should be in place within weeks.

The SK Livestock Finance Co-operative is finalizing details with its financial partner and is expected to be operational before the provincial feeder and breeder program ends July 31.

Sandra Moen, who raises cattle with her family near Elrose, chairs the board and said the new co-operative will be a competitive lender.

The lender and interest rate should be announced sometime this month.

“We’re going to be very, very competitive in the marketplace, as good if not better to what the LLG program was,” she said.

Moen said it was important to continue a program that helped young producers in particular.

“The loss of it was not a good thing,” she said.

The province announced last August it would discontinue the program that guaranteed loans to participants, citing a drop in participation and that lending wasn’t a core government function. It planned to end it on Dec. 31 but extended that to July after all involved said they needed more time to transition.

Members of the 45 associations around the province, which include one bison association, met at Canadian Western Agribition last fall and formed a steering committee to establish the new finance co-op.

There are more than 900 producers involved in the current program. Moen said not all members are active but all will be grandfathered into the new single entity. New members will be welcome and not all current members are required to transfer.

There will be five regional secretaries around the province to handle those types of issues and the financing programs.

The SKLF intends to offer one-year cattle feeder loans, five-year cattle breeder loans, 18-month bison feeder loans and six-year bison breeder loans.

Down payments of five percent will be required for the feeder loans and 10 percent for the breeder loans.

Moen said the co-op’s programs essentially parallel what the government offered over the past 30 years.

“It is a system that works,” she said. “It is just without the (government) guarantee.”

Moen noted that over the life of the LLG only a couple of associations ran into trouble, so the loss of the government guarantee shouldn’t be a problem.

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