Northern Saskatchewan wild rice harvesters met in Prince Albert this past weekend for their 30th annual conference.

The harvesters were represented from all the different regions in the north and while not every harvester was there for the conference there were more than 30 in attendance.

Former chairman of the Wild Rice Council, Lynn Riese, says the harvesters like to meet once a year to talk with all the growers in the province and discuss ideas about their operations.

He says the hurdles that have burdened the harvesters over the years are actually beginning to shrink.

“The market used to be down price-wise in the past and we had a weak marketer for a few years, but now the price is going way up and there is nobody with inventory that they are dumping,” said Riese.

Riese does say one challenge facing harvesters is an aging air boat fleet that will be hard to repair.  He says there is no plan in place at the moment to address the issue, but he hopes one will be developed in the future.

Riese has served as Chair for the Wild Rice Council for ten years and this past weekend he resigned the spot.  The former Chair says wild rice harvesters in Saskatchewan have come a long way in the past ten years.

“It’s really improved, it went bad for quite a while there, but now everybody harvesting wild rice is making money,” said Riese.

Other discussion from the weekend included insurance coverage for wild rice, land use and getting more youth interested in wild rice harvesting.