ALUS Project makes sense for Canora producer

LeeAnn Weinbender, along with her husband Carey and children Sarah, Laura and Dale, operate Sliding Hills Charolais, a 125 head purebred Charolais cattle operation south of Canora.

In the spring of 2018 LeeAnn was made aware of the Alternative Land Use Services (ALUS) project being offered to all 24 RM members of the Assiniboine Watershed Stewardship Association (AWSA.) The AWSA has been implementing ALUS projects since the spring of 2016 and is one of 24 grassroots organizations delivering ALUS programming across Canada, according to an ALUS release. 

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Community-developed and farmer-delivered, ALUS sustains agriculture, wildlife and natural spaces for all Canadians, one acre at a time. ALUS Canada’s mission is to enable Canadians to provide direct support to a national network of farmers and ranchers delivering ecosystem services in their communities, including clean air, clean water, carbon sequestration, erosion control, flood mitigation, pollinator support and wildlife habitat, said the release.

For LeeAnn and her family, ALUS fit perfectly into their mixed farming operation. Their ALUS Conservation Agreement involved converting approximately 50 acres of previously-cultivated marginal cropland along the Whitesand River into permanent perennial forage that can be utilized for hay for the cattle.

“Our ALUS projects are specifically targeted towards those marginal, saline, or flood and erosion-prone areas next to wetlands or waterways that producers may have on their farms,” said Jesse Nielsen, AWSA manager and ALUS coordinator. “Through the ALUS program we provide $50/acre for the establishment of the forage in addition to annual incentive payments for up to 5 years for the cropland they convert to forage, as well as for the existing wetland or upland habitat adjacent to the forage. Annual payments range from $20 to $50 per acre.” 

The project at Sliding Hills Charolais was made possible thanks to a successful funding proposal by the AWSA to WWF’s Loblaw Water Fund. For more information on the ALUS program contact the AWSA at 306-783-1696.