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Optimism greets new Federal ag minister

Posted by Eric Anderson Nov 05, 2015

  • 5 Nov 2015
  • The StarPhoenix
  • ALEX MACPHERSON

Optimism greets new ag minister

Policies fit province’s goals

Despite his unfamiliarity with the Saskatchewan agriculture industry, incoming federal agriculture minister Lawrence MacAulay could bring good news for the province’s farmers, according to the president of the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan.
“A lot of their ag policies align very closely with a lot of the policies that we were putting out, and their answers were very close to what we wanted to hear,” Norm Hall said, referring to the Liberal party’s agriculture platform. “We’re very encouraged by what the Liberal government was putting out.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed 69-yearold potato farmer and veteran Prince Edward Island MP Lawrence MacAulay as agriculture minister on Wednesday. He replaces Gerry Ritz, the Conservative MP for Battlefords-Lloydminster, who has held the post since 2007.
While the agriculture minister has little impact on day-to-day farm and manufacturing operations, his influence on policy is enormous, Hall said.
“It’s huge. We’re all under some federal act, and there’s all kinds of updates that need to happen to Canadian laws and acts. In some cases they’re slow coming, and we need to convince government there’s a better way to do it.”
Grain transportation and international trade are particularly important for the new government to address because Saskatchewan producers rely on the country’s rail network and trade laws to get their grain into foreign markets, and both are in a state of flux, Hall said.
Canada’s Transportation Act is undergoing a major review, while a pair of major free trade agreements — the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership — are being negotiated. Hall expects MacAulay will throw his support behind both issues.

“We’re very hopeful about the future for ag under this government,” he said.
Saskatchewan’s agriculture minister takes a similarly optimistic view. Although he lacks the in-depth knowledge of Saskatchewan agriculture his predecessor possessed, MacAulay is a farmer and a veteran MP, meaning he should have little trouble acclimating to the role, Lyle Stewart said.
“He has quite a record, and a very positive one,” he said. “I’m quite looking forward to meeting him.”
Stewart said he hopes MacAulay will support the Trans-Pacific Partnership and pursue the outgoing Conservative government’s challenge of country of origin labelling at the World Trade Organization.
The Canadian Transportation Act review is also vital to Saskatchewan’s agriculture industry and broader economy, he added.
“We export virtually everything we produce, and the vast majority of it goes west, so rail transportation is critical to our economy. Certainly, having the right rules that motivate the railways to act in a responsible, efficient and highly-motivated fashion is important to us.”
Meanwhile, the Agriculture Council of Saskatchewan (ACS), which distributes federal dollars to industry-led projects, hopes the new government boosts its contributions to Western Canada.
“Funding programs and support for the agriculture sector helps growth, assists with growth, provides opportunities for growth,” ACS executive director Bryan Kosteroski said. “And also provides more opportunities for smaller agriculture companies to grow in Western Canada and in Saskatchewan.”
 
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Posted in Farm related news | Tagged with agriculutre policy Federal minister | More articles by Eric Anderson



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