Funding for agriculture is keeping steady in the 2015 Saskatchewan budget.
“The ag budget is $ 352.4 million and that’s down very slightly from what it has been last year and only 2.5 per cent (lower) and that’s mainly due to lower costs in crop insurance and things of that nature. There are no significant cuts of any kind,” said Lyle Stewart, minister of agriculture.
The 2013 crop production was a record harvest with yields averaging 40 bushels per acre. In 2014, crop production dipped down to just above the 2005 to 2014 average at 30 bushels per acre.
The 2015 Crop Insurance Program this year has decreased insurance premiums while increasing coverage levels on average from $162 an acre to $183 an acre.
“The crop insurance program is improved higher coverage and at less cost…Lower costs and higher crop insurance coverage are always a benefit to producers,” said Stewart.
Agriculture critic Cathy Sproule sees the budget as flat.
“What we’re not seeing from this government is more emphasis on the grain transportation system which is still in chaos. We would really like to see more leadership there and set out some standards for. Well, federally, I mean obviously it’s a big federal issue but we need this government and this province to push the feds for better grain transportation policy,” said Sproule.
Last year the Western Livestock Price Insurance Program was introduced. This year’s budget has seen nothing taken away and nothing added, making producers happy.
“Well, I think it’s very good they’ve balanced it. I’ve got money for infrastructure and no tax increases. How can a guy complain about that,” said Doug Gillespie, president for the Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association.
“We weren’t expecting anything new and I didn’t really see anything new for agriculture. But on the beef cattle side, prices are good and we’re having good years,” said Ryan Beierbach, vice-chair for the Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association.
“(The Budget’s) exactly what we were hoping for. We knew it was going to be a tough budget so we were hoping for no new tax increases, which we got, and no significant spending cuts, which we got,” said Norm Hall, president of the Agriculture Producers Association of Saskatchewan.
Overall, both government and producers are happy with this year’s budget.
“For ag I think it’s a pretty good-news budget,” said Stewart.