The Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities have been holding their June Division Meetings.

On Tuesday, SARM representatives met in Moose Jaw and Swift Current, in Kipling on Wednesday, and Thursday in Kelvington and North Battleford.

President Ray Orb says one common theme at all the meetings this year has been the wildlife damage.

"It wasn't uncommon for a ratepayer to wake up in the morning to find 100 head of whitetail deer in the yard,  or mule deer.  That's a big problem because they do a lot of damage. Unfortunately, there is no place for these animals to go,  because they couldn't get through the snow or the ice. So, the next best thing would be the farmer's hay stacks. So it was actually quite bad and I think Saskatchewan Environment would admit that they've never seen it that bad."

He notes the Ministry of Environment is also at the meetings to hear concerns and has been talking about some potential options including increasing hunting tags.

One issue that comes up occasionally for SARM is illegal water drainage and the issue for farmers and others living downstream.

The topic is back as farmers in the southeast have been dealing with a lot more water this year.

Orb says that the organization has brought up the problem on a few occasions.

"SARM has gone on record quite a few times saying that we want the province to bring in legislation to be able to stop illegal drainage, which I know they've done since 2015, I believe. They've had a little bit more of a proactive plan where they have asked producers that are living out in the rural area to make sure they get permits before they do drain and especially need to talk to their neighbors in all cases to make sure that their neighbors are OK with it as well, as far as taking extra water."

He notes they've also been working to some extent with water security to develop a drainage mitigation policy so that farmers could still drain legally, as long as they follow the criteria.

"I think the province is still developing some of the mitigation as far as wetlands retention and things like that."

Orb says that he understands that excess moisture can cause frustration for farmers, but asks that they go through the proper channels.

Another key concern for rural residents, farmers, and ranchers is rural crime and policing.

"One of the concerns is detachments being short-staffed. We're hoping that the RCMP can fill all of those vacancies. We've heard also from some of the local councilors, about officers possibly being transferred into northern communities in the northern detachments because of the shortage of officers."

He says he's pleased to see that Saskatchewan RCMP now has someone in place to follow up on agriculture and livestock-related crimes that has a rural background and understands the value of the animals.

Orb added that the SARM board unanimously voted in favor of/and has sent a letter to the Federal Minister of Public Safety  Mr Mendicino in support of the RCMP Depot and the need to keep it open in Regina.