Prince Albert Grand Council operates an agriculture development program in the district. There is one agriculturist on staff to help plan and implement agricultural projects. This agriculture program has been servicing the needs of First Nations for over 25 years.
The Prince Albert Grand Council Agriculture Program has a contribution program to assist farmers from participating First Nation Bands. The following Bands contributed over $90,000 towards agricultural development this year: Wahpeton, La Ronge, Sturgeon Lake, Shoal Lake and Cumberland House. Over 55 projects were funded for our clients.
The livestock industry is doing very well these days. We are continually increasing our livestock operations in the district by expanding the number of livestock on farms and the number of farmers. We have a youth livestock program that is sponsored by PAGC and SIEF. Winter feed is put up and it appears that most farmers had a reasonable hay crop. We assisted several farmers with their haying production this summer along with some pasture expansion. There is a post pounder that is owned by us and loaned to farmers to do fencing.
Another program that Prince Albert Grand Council provides is the Herd Health Program. It is an ongoing service that helps operators with their fall roundups, medication, vaccinations, marketing, etc. We also have purchased a gopher exterminator that is available to farmers with gopher problems.
American hunters are looking for opportunities to hunt deer, bear and moose in Northern Saskatchewan and this results in economic development opportunities for some of the Prince Albert Grand Council bands and members. Prince Albert Grand Council staff assists with sourcing proper hunting licences, information, baiting and blinds, and booking hunters.
The First Nation owned wild rice processing plant in La Ronge processed 950,000 pounds of green rice in 2014. This is low compared to other years. The plant is running well this year, but the total crop is not in yet. It looks like the yield may be lower due to the cooler weather and highwater levels. The price is ranging from $.90 to $1.10 per pound. Saskatchewan Environment is starting to cancel wild rice leases if the annual fees are not paid.
Gardening is a very popular activity for our members. There are a number of community gardens and lots of individual gardens. La Ronge and Little Red had a large community garden (over 10 acres) in 2014. We also held several gardening workshops throughout the north. The Saskatchewan Indian Equity Foundation works closely with us to assist our clients with funding. We develop loan applications, training, and project implementation.
The Bands utilize our services for the land lease meetings with Indian Affairs and the farmers. We also assist our clients to access funding and services available from other federal and provincial government programs.