Agriculture Council of Saskatchewan Inc. has a diverse 29 year history in Saskatchewan. From the early years to the recent years, we have always had our main focus on finding and facilitating new opportunities to strengthen the Saskatchewan agriculture and agri-food sector. Our humble beginnings started in 1992 where our mission was to be a catalyst for community co-operation, empowerment and development in Saskatchewan. In the recent years our mission is to provide leadership and programming to advance the agriculture and agri-food sector to contribute to a healthy Saskatchewan community. Throughout the years, our Staff, Board of Directors and Members have remained dedicated to continue evolving into an organization that is representative in enhancing Saskatchewan’s agriculture and agri-food industry by delivering quality programs and services. We invite you to read below to learn about our history.
In 1992, a group of organizations were invited to a meeting because of their known or assumed interest in rural community development. At that meeting there was a clear indication that a coalition of these groups would be important, first to maintain communication linkages around community development efforts, and second, to play an important role in fostering community empowerment and development in the province. Those participating in the discussions encouraged the creation of a new, multi-organizational group, with a clear mandate and resources beyond those available in the past. Saskatchewan Council for Community Development (SCCD) began operations. The original Board of Directors consisted of: Harold Baker, Trevor Shepstone, Jim Conly, Dianne Olchowski, Dave Andres and Linda Pipke. Linda Pipke went on to be the Executive Director serving until 2005.
A premise of the Council’s objectives was that the Saskatchewan community can be served best when the organizational members of the Council maintain and share an awareness of local, regional and provincial needs and priorities. The Council would assemble and distribute information on community empowerment and development in Saskatchewan, and would identify development challenges and opportunities common to our stakeholders.
In 1995, SCCD and the Flax Growers of Western Canada took the lead role in calling together a working group to support the formation of a special autonomous committee within SCCD to develop a proposal for Saskatchewan’s share of the Canadian Adaptation and Rural Development (CARD) Fund. The committee of SCCD was called the Saskatchewan Adaptation and Rural Development Committee (SARDC). In 1996, SCCD submitted an application to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to obtain and implement the CARD fund in Saskatchewan. The CARD application was successful.
In June 1996, Saskatchewan Council for Community Development Inc. (SCCD) was incorporated as a non-profit organization in Saskatchewan.
In 1997 SCCD began serving as the secretariat for the Saskatchewan CARD Program, when it received its first CARD allocation of $8.8 million. The Canadian Adaptation and Rural Development Saskatchewan (CARDS) committee was formed. The Committee determined policy, reviewed, evaluated and approved project proposals. Over 350 Saskatchewan projects were approved under CARDS I.
In January, 1998 another SCCD committee was formed called Saskatchewan Agriculture Community Training Advisory Coalition (SACTAC). This committee worked hard to encourage cooperation and collaboration to identify and promote access to training opportunities for the agriculture sector in the province.
In 1998, the Leadership Saskatchewan program was being developed with three successful pilot projects in different areas of the province from January to March, 1999. Leadership Saskatchewan is a community-based leadership program designed to assist community leaders in developing and enhancing their leadership skills to better help in their community. Also in December 1998, a well-attended successful Conflict to Consensus workshop took place delivered by Bob Chadwick of Chadwick & Associates, USA. This workshop provides people with skills they can apply to resolve conflict in their communities and organizations.
The SCCD membership remained strong at 58 organizations, including many businesses, non-profit organizations, education, economic development, health, Metis, First Nations, and provincial and federal government.
In March, 1999 AAFC announced that the CARD program would continue as CARDS II for an additional five year period of time, with an additional $11.3 million in funding for the Saskatchewan program. The AAFC priority areas for projects were: Industry & Rural Resource Development; Business Development Activities; Strategic Initiatives; Capital Equipment Purchases; Value-Added Development; Environmental Stewardship. From 1999 to 2004, the SCCD Board approved 730 projects totaling $18,079,061.
In July, 2000 the Agriculture Institute of Management in Saskatchewan (AIMS) closed their office in Regina and came under the umbrella of SCCD. A new AIMS Advisory Committee was formed under SCCD. AIMS continued to provide valuable educational experiences for Saskatchewan’s farm business managers. Thousands of agriculture produces participate in the many AIMS programs offered each year, such as the Consultant Workshop program, Agribusiness Management Development program, Specialized Livestock program, Farm Business Management and Speaker/Conference Sponsorship programs.
From 1999 to 2004 the Leadership Saskatchewan Program, designed to develop effective community leaders who play an integral role in the development of their strong, vibrant rural communities, was delivered to adults and youth in hundreds of communities, Metis and First Nations all over Saskatchewan. In 2002, the online leadership program was developed and launched, called Excellence in Leadership-Developing a Community of Leaders Online. Funding was provided by SaskTel and AAFC to develop this online program. The modules from the Leadership Saskatchewan program were developed into an online self-paced program, complete with graphics and quizzes. This was a very popular inexpensive program for those that could not attend the face-to-face Leadership Saskatchewan program. SCCD also continued through the years to deliver the Conflict to Consensus workshops throughout communities in Saskatchewan. SCCD also developed a new Board Basics program, designed to advise on the roles, responsibilities and legal obligations for a Board of Directors. This workshop was delivered to many groups around the province through the years.
Through these years, SCCD also delivered several conferences and workshops to help enhance skills and revitalize rural areas for the people and communities around the province. Some of these were: Rural Revitalization Foundation conference; Community Development Awards; a Youth Pilot project in Northern Saskatchewan; Community Economic Development conferenced; Coaching for Results workshops; Asset-Based Community Development workshop; Strategic Community Planning workshops, etc.
In April, 2004 Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada unveiled a new five-year, $240-million program designed to position Canada’s agriculture and agri-food sector to capture new opportunities called Advancing Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food (ACAAF). This program is the successor to the CARD program. SCCD will deliver Saskatchewan’s share of the program of approximately $3,704,000 per year for the next five years, which includes funding for collaborative projects with other provinces. A new ACAAFS committee was formed under SCCD to determine policy, review, evaluate and approve project proposals.
In 2005, we continued to deliver both the CARDS and the new ACAAFS grant programs with funding through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. One of the programs approved in the first year was a strategic initiative of SCCD called Value Chain Initiative. The Value Chain initiative is for the development and generation of public awareness and educational materials. In October, 2005, Laurie Dmytryshyn took over as the Executive Director of SCCD. The Board of Directors and staff began to take stock of where we have been, what we have accomplished, and where we should take the organization in the future. We continued to deliver the Leadership Saskatchewan program, online leadership program, Board Basics workshops, AIMS programs, Value Chains program; Community Planning workshops, etc. We launched the Centre for Agribusiness Training and Education (CATE), a web-based project to provide people with a central clearinghouse for educational courses, seminars and workshops offered in Saskatchewan. The project was funded by Saskatchewan Department of Learning and CARDS.
In 2006-2007, SCCD underwent a significant restructuring initiative to map out the future of the organization. From the meeting with the Board of Directors and staff we came away with a new vision and mission for the organization to focus on providing leadership and programming to advance the agriculture and agri-food sector in Saskatchewan. With the assistance of legal counsel, SCCD bylaws were revised to develop a new governance structure that is accountable to the membership. An eight-member, industry-based Board of Directors guides the organization.
In July, 2007 we changed our organizations name to Agriculture Council of Saskatchewan Inc. (ACS).
In 2007-2008 marked the end of the AIMS program with no further funding forthcoming. Also the Leadership Saskatchewan program, Online leadership program, Conflict workshops, Board Basis workshops were discontinued. CATE continued with the online resource that connects those seeking training to those offering learning. Growth in AAFC programming occurred this year with the announcement of the new Biofuels Opportunities for Producers Initiative (BOPI) funding program. We were pleased to be administering this new initiative with applications being reviewed by the new Biofuels Advisory group of ACS.
Through to 2009, ACS continued to deliver the ACAAFS, CARDS and BOPI programs. ACS initiatives such as the Value Chain Initiative and the Student Assisted Business & Marketing Plan program were very successful. The Value Chain initiative under Manager, Bryan Kosteroski, expanded on its series of successful workshops by developing workshops in the area of organic livestock, vegetables and fruit and food service. ACS Board and staff continued in efforts to maintain and increase the membership base. The Value Chain program was broadened in 2008-2009 by working with other provincial councils on a Canadian Value Chain Network and developing a number of supporting materials and workshops for Going to Market. The ACAAFS program officially wound down with AAFC on March 31, 2009. With the residual ACAAFS funds, ACS continued to offer opportunities for projects.
In 2010, ACS transitioned into the five-year AAFC funding program Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program (CAAP). The first-year allocation for Saskatchewan was $3.42 million and many applications were received, reviewed and approved by the Board of Directors with many projects underway.
In February, 2010 ACS successfully took over operation of the Levy Central program from Saskatchewan Canola Development Commission. ACS welcomed the three existing Levy Central staff, along with the existing eight clients who we collect levies on behalf of. A new Levy Central Advisory group was established under ACS to assist in a growth strategy to pursue more clients. The Levy Central program has continued to grow and develop over the past seven years. We invite you to visit our website at www.levycentral.ca to see all the dedicated work that the levy staff continues to do.
In 2010-2011 we saw the last year of funding the CATE program and it was discontinued. In March, 2012 Laurie Dmytryshyn resigned as the Executive Director, and Blair Goldade (CAAP senior project officer) was appointed to the position.
The Board of Directors through the CAAP funding program approved a new ACS initiative called the Saskatchewan Grocery Retail and Foodservice Value Chain Initiative.
It was announced by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada that 2014 would mark the end of the existing CAAP program and a successor program would not be developed. Staff continued to provide support to the many organizations funded by CAAP until it ended on March 31, 2014. Since CAAP program inception, we funded 214 projects for a total commitment of $14.28 million. With the residual ACAAFS dollars, we were able to fund further projects until March, 2016. Since ACAAFS program inception, we funded 325 projects for a total funding commitment of $17.5 million.
In October, 2014 Blair Goldade resigned as the Executive Director and the Board of Directors appointed Bryan Kosteroski to take on the position, along with his position as the Value Chains Specialist.
In 2015, we started a new program for ACS called the Agriculture Management Program to provide third party management and project coordination assistance to agriculture non-profit organizations and for-profit companies.
In 2016, we entered into a contract with Sask. Ministry of Agriculture to administer and deliver the OFFS program- Canada Gap. The Saskatchewan On Farm Food Safety (OFFS) Implementation Program provides funding to provincial commodity groups to implement OFFS systems. Funding may be provided for training and promotional activities and producer level implementation.
Value Chain Specialist, Bryan Kosteroski, continues to attend meetings across the province, promoting the program and developing a base of contracts within the grocery retail and foodservice industry. A series of Guides were developed for both the grocery retail and foodservice value chains. The program brings immediate benefits and assistance to burgeoning and established value chains within Saskatchewan, allowing them to gain a foothold in foodservice, grocery and retail outlets. We invite you to view the Value Chains program under our program section on this website.