Thursday, 29 September 2011 15:35

Agriculture on the minds of the Alta. Conservative candidates

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By Jamie Woodford

With the Progressive Conservative leadership race now whittled to three nominees, candidates are buckling down to come out on top.

Gary Mar, Alison Redford and Doug Horner all agree that Alberta agriculture is vital to the province's economy, but just what is their take on the future of the industry?

The Prairie Post asked each contender what his or her approach would be towards agriculture should he or she be named the next Premier.

The questions posed: What is your policy towards agriculture? How do you feel the industry could be improved?  Should you become leader, do you plan on implementing any policies?

How they answered:

Gary Mar

“For more than 100 years, farmers have been growing families, communities and a future for themselves and Alberta across this province. Agriculture is Alberta’s second largest industry and an important part to Alberta’s economy.  Alberta’s agriculture and food industry is a world leader, known for its safe, high quality food products and the research and innovation that go into our food production.

“As the next Premier of Alberta, I will make sure that Alberta agriculture has the market opportunities, trade agreements and support for innovation that our producers and communities need to achieve their potential in a world that needs food.

“In addition to building strong relationships in the U.S. at both the federal and state levels,  I will focus on expanding market access to emerging markets like China and India, countries with a growing demand for Alberta-grown and produced food.

“My vision for agriculture and rural development stems from what I’ve heard over the last six months during the campaign and I have appreciated the advice of MLAs such as Arno Doerksen and former MLA Clint Dunford. 

“I plan to listen to producers, processors, communities, local governments and development organizations to make sure the right regulations, policies, programs and supports are in place. My agriculture policy is online at With your support, I will continue to champion Alberta’s agricultural future, leading a government that recognizes agriculture and its potential for our province.”

Alison Redford

“I want to position Alberta as a preferred supplier of agricultural commodities to mainstream and niche markets worldwide. This involves making the province a leader in agricultural research, food safety, animal health and energy-efficient production.

“One way (the industry could be improved) is to focus on the environment. There’s plenty of room for improvements to energy and water usage, which will benefit farmers’ pocketbooks and Albertans in general.

“We also need creative solutions for storage and transportation, since flaws in the system and delays caused by distance or weather cause spoilage and loss of revenue.

“As Premier I will:

Provide predictable long-term funding for agricultural research;

Work closely with the federal government and international organizations to obtain approval for homegrown advances;

Offer economic incentives to farmers to protect the environment and use resources more efficiently;

Support organizations like AVAC that invest in agricultural start-ups;

Ally with Ottawa to open new markets for Alberta exports;

Ensure that government regulation is flexible, allowing for production and sale of non-commodity goods.”

Doug Horner

From website:

“Doug Horner’s platform on agriculture, forestry and bio-economy involves the following ideas:

Streamline business regulatory environment to encourage value chain growth. 

Bring together leaders from industry, capital markets, and major distributors to create investment priorities to accelerate the value-added agenda.

Work with our educational systems to further develop the knowledge, expertise and human capital needed for value chain development.

Continue to create relationships in domestic, existing international markets and emerging markets for our industry to utilize to open doors and opportunities.

Develop policies and financial mechanisms that will allow for intergenerational transfer or transfer down to new entrants and to make entry into agriculture easier for young people.

Work to make existing business risk management programming simple, bankable and predictable.

Invest in innovation, research, development and applied research activities and work collaboratively with partners to increase yields, acreage and livestock production, alternative crop opportunities and use capabilities.

Create a research and commercialization endowment for Alberta Innovates Bio Solutions . . . (to) ensure Alberta takes advantage of the growing bio-industrial, bio-materials, bio-waste, bio-fuel, and bio-fibre economy.

Enhance the framework and funding for Agriculture Societies . . . for programs and services that promote agriculture activities and rural development; and

Review the funding to ensure Agriculture Service Boards and municipalities can continue to perform the necessary and important work of weed and pest control in our rural areas.”

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