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Community pastures now managed by non-profit

More than half of the province’s community pastures are now managed by a non-profit organization responsible for their future use and stewardship, Agriculture, Food and Rural Development Minister Ron Kostyshyn announced today.

“Community pastures preserve our natural prairie landscape and offer farmers an important option to raise their livestock,” said Kostyshyn. “The Manitoba government is pleased to support those who are invested in the continued use and protection of these important spaces.”

The Association of Manitoba Community Pastures (AMCP) was formed in 2014 after the federal government began transitioning community pasture management to the province, the minister noted. The AMCP is made up of patrons who pay fees to use these pastures. The pastures provide grazing and breeding space for livestock but also protect natural prairie ecosystems and protect the land from impacts due to drought, development or intensive cropping.  The AMCP is operating 14 pastures to date and will manage nine more over the next year, the minister said.

“Community pastures are an important resource for new and established farmers to have a place for livestock to graze and breed,” said Barry Lowes, chair, Association of Manitoba Community Pastures. “The community pasture program has been an important part of many farm operations for years and we are pleased we will be able to manage and protect this land for the province and for the agricultural producers who continue to rely on it.”

This project was made possible through $1.05 million in funding from the Manitoba government over three years.  Community pastures were established in the 1930s throughout the three prairie provinces to help reclaim badly eroded soils. There are 23 community pastures in Manitoba covering 400,000 acres and 80 per cent are on provincial Crown land.

“The sustainable management of these natural lands provides grazing options to Manitoba beef producers, continued access for traditional use and protection of biodiversity and critical wildlife habitat,” said Conservation and Water Stewardship Minister Tom Nevakshonoff. “Community pastures complement our efforts on the landscape to strengthen resilience to climate change through water quality protection, water retention and groundwater aquifer replenishment.”

Kostyshyn noted the AMCP will ensure community pastures are financially and environmentally sustainable, providing an agriculture resource while protecting prairie ecology. Grazing fees at these pastures are consistent with market rates, he noted, adding the pastures will continue to be available for First Nations, Métis, Indigenous communities and other local users to carry out traditional pursuits.

— PROVINCE OF MANITOBA

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