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Canada: Flooding squeezes wild rice growers in Saskatchewan

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  • Canada: Flooding squeezes wild rice growers in Saskatchewan


    Flooding squeezes wild rice growers
    Author of the article:
    Nick Pearce • Local Journalism Initiative
    Publishing date:
    Jul 13, 2020 • Last Updated 13 minutes ago • 2 minute read

    High water levels swamped wild rice crops across Saskatchewan’s north this month.

    That’s left growers concerned that lost crops will send demand for a mostly-Indigenous workforce plummeting this harvest, especially as businesses are squeezed between higher land lease fees and lower yields.

    “People in the wild rice business will suffer this year because of the adverse weather conditions and the flooding,” noted Rusty Cameron, president of the Saskatchewan Wild Rice Council.

    Saskatchewan has more than 300 wild rices producers, Cameron said. He estimated about 2,500 people would typically be employed in the industry, including people working in rice plants, transportation and general labour.

    Wild rice operators hire largely Indigenous and Metis workers to assist with harvests each fall. Lower yields mean many will struggle to find work, he said.

    “All over Saskatchewan they depend on that harvest for an income.”
    Article content continued

    Without a good stock of rice, he is further worried about exporting to Asian, European, and U.S. markets, which together account for more than 80 per cent of the province’s wild rice output, he said...