MLA for Lesser Slave Lake
Have you thanked a farmer today? If you ate breakfast, lunch or dinner, then you probably should.
Alberta’s farmers and ranchers have been the backbone of this province’s economy and culture for well over a century, and it’s no wonder. Alberta is home to some of the most productive farmland in the world. It’s a job our producers take seriously, and I for one appreciate all they do.
A lot of folks beyond Alberta are thankful too, as they enjoy the fruits of our farmers’ labours. Agriculture exports are up in Alberta – wheat by 17 per cent, canola seed by 10 per cent, and canola oil by a whopping 59.1 per cent. And even though we already have more than 40 per cent of the national beef herd, beef exports are now up to $1.7 billion as well.
Our products are in high demand and our farmers and ranchers continue to answer the call and meet the growing demand. In fact, agriculture is now the fastest growing export market in Alberta, and we are increasingly feeding major economies like the U.S., China, Japan, and Mexico.
I’m proud of our local producers like Dwayne and Chris Pollack, Big Lakes County residents who were honoured last week with a BMO Farm Family award. Their roots go back nearly 90 years, when Dwayne’s parents started farming cattle and grain east of High Prairie in 1930. And stories like theirs, of families working the land across generations, can be found in every corner of this province.
Their operation has evolved over the years, much like every other operation has to evolve to thrive in changing times. And our government is happy to offer support.
One of the ways we support producers is through ag societies. Across the province, there are 283 ag societies that get $11.5 million in funding to do their important work of community building. I attend as many local events as I can, and it’s amazing to see how many of these events are hosted by none other than our local ag societies.
These volunteer-driven not-for-profit organizations have a mandate to improve agriculture and enhance the quality of life in their communities. And from what I see in Lesser Slave Lake, they’re exceeding expectations. What would life be like in Lesser Slave Lake without the ag fairs like the one in Kinuso, for example? We have the Central Slave Lake Agricultural Society and its incredible volunteers to thank for that one.
Ag societies are also integral to promoting farm culture and safety to the next generation. Last month, the High Prairie Agricultural Society hosted a Grade 5 class and taught them all about rural safety. I know farmers and ranchers in Lesser Slave Lake are committed to safety, and it’s never too early for our kids to learn it in school too.
Our government created the Alberta farm safety grant to help producers restock or retrofit equipment, with eligible farmers able to claim 50 per cent of their safety expenses to a maximum of $10,000. The nonprofit organization AgSafe Alberta also offers farm-safety management planning, risk assessment, and on-farm safety consultation.
Funding for ag societies, and grant programs to support farm safety, are some of the things I’m standing with Rachel Notley to fight for. These things make a real difference in the lives of rural Albertans, and would certainly be put at risk under a conservative government that would make deep and painful cuts to pay for tax giveaways for only the wealthiest among us.
I’ll keep standing up for Alberta’s farm families, who help to provide us the quality of life we all enjoy, in Lesser Slave Lake and across the province.