326 B High Street West Moose Jaw, SK

Moose Jaw Express May 9, 2018

Starting the Season Safely

Saskatchewan farmers and ranchers are the backbone of our economy, contributing about 10 per cent of the province’s GDP. Agriculture continues to drive growth and keep Saskatchewan’s economy strong with total exports more than doubling over the past decade to 14.4 billion dollars.

The 2018-19 Saskatchewan Budget supports a strong agriculture sector with record investment in ag research and continued strong support for business risk management programs, such as Crop Insurance. The budget also includes increased funding for Animal Protection Services of Saskatchewan.

Bill 125, The Saskatchewan Value-Added Agriculture Incentive, has also been introduced in the Legislature. The new incentive is designed to improve investment attraction and retention outcomes in the province’s value-added ag sector by offering a 15 per cent non-refundable tax credit for value-added agriculture facilities that make a significant capital investment to expand production capacity.

Supporting the sustainability and growth of the agriculture industry will help producers increase crop production, value-added processing and agri-food exports. This will ensure that Saskatchewan continues to be a leader in providing healthy, affordable food for our province and the world.

Before the snow had completely disappeared from the fields, the spring agriculture season was already in progress. Traveling to and from Regina for the spring session of the legislature, I am noticing more and more equipment is out working the fields. I think about the safety of the operators of those machines and all of the work that is occurring on farms and ranches at this busy time of year.

Grain production especially has the peak seasons of seeding and harvest when the weather and other factors can impact operations. During this time of substantial activity, finishing the job quickly can become a priority and making a deliberate effort to focus on safety is crucial at these times.

Agriculture is one of Saskatchewan’s largest and most hazardous industries. While less than one-quarter of Saskatchewan’s working population lives on a farm, farm fatalities account for one-third of all worker fatalities in the province. There are resources available through the Government of Saskatchewan to help prevent farm accidents. These resources are useful to both owner operators, and to those employed on farms and ranches. Saskatchewan.ca/farmsafety is an excellent place to start.

The Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety’s Farm Safety Program provides advice about training, clarifies employer and worker roles and responsibilities, and identifies common workplace hazards on the farm.

The Farm Safety Program is about management practices that will help ensure the health and safety of everyone on the farm. It provides a 10-step plan to help you protect your employees, your family, and yourself from injuries and illness on your farm; information on how the occupational health and safety legislation applies to farms and ranches; and references to publications and websites that can help you develop your farm safety plan.

I admire the courage it takes to be an agricultural producer, when your livelihood depends on a number of uncontrollable variables; like the weather. The Farm Stress Line is a valuable resource. It is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to provide confidential crisis telephone counselling, support and referral information to individuals, youth and families in rural areas. The Farm Stress Line is available at 1-800-667-4442.

Thank you to our agricultural workers who help feed the world. I wish you all a safe and successful growing season.