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Sask. to handle AgriStability at home: Wall

The Saskatchewan government has confirmed in its throne speech that it will take over delivery of the federal/provincial AgriStability program to its farmers.

Premier Brad Wall’s speech, delivered Wednesday in Regina by Lieutenant Governor Gordon Barnhart, pledged that the province’s ministry of agriculture “will move ahead with plans to bring administration of AgriStability (formerly known as CAIS) to Saskatchewan.”

Saskatchewan would then line up with Alberta, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Ontario, which already deliver the program through their own provincial ag financial service agencies. The program is delivered in other provinces and territories by the federal government.

“This will result in a better program — one that is more responsive
to the unique needs and challenges facing Saskatchewan producers,” Wall wrote.

The province, he wrote, “plans to participate fully and immediately in federal programs designed to help farm families.”

Among other plans in the ag file for the coming year, Wall also noted plans to introduce improvements to crop insurance in 2009, based on input received during the recent government-commissioned review of the crop insurance system.

Work is also underway on “long-term strategies for growth” in the cattle and hog sectors, to be developed in co-operation with those industries, Wall wrote.

Wall’s speech also noted the province’s commitment to providing “long-term, secure water supplies in Saskatchewan’s southwest” where farmers have “endured a number of years of drought.” Compensation levels have been increased under the Farm and Ranch Water Infrastructure program, he wrote.

The government will also expand extension services in rural
Saskatchewan, Wall wrote.

Noting that input costs for farmers have increased substantially, Wall wrote that the province would look to control property taxes. “Farm families should look forward to our report on the education tax system, and the reduction of the education portion of property taxes,” he wrote.

The province’s recent boom has been well-reported, with Saskatchewan leading or expected to lead in economic growth, wholesale trade growth and export and retail sales growth. Saskatchewan’s population growth rate is at a 50-year high, with former Saskatchewan residents also returning from Alberta and elsewhere, Wall said.

“Because of this tremendous growth and new economic activity,
government revenues have grown by over $3 billion,” Wall wrote.

“For as long as I can remember, people have called our province
‘next year country.’ Today, i am pleased to report that in our Saskatchewan, next year has arrived.”

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