Verlyn’s Views


    The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Verlyn Olson, lives in the rural community of Camrose, Alberta so he sees (and hears) first-hand,  the challenges and successes of rural Albertans.  “As someone who lives in rural Alberta, I can tell you that I am very passionate about rural development and our agriculture sector.”
    He has developed a great deal of respect for the people in rural Alberta and is quick to share his praise. “I admire the men and women in rural Alberta. The people who are the leaders in the agriculture industry and their communities. Their hard work, determination and strong sense of community are part of the foundation of this province. They help make Alberta a great place to call home.”
    “It’s hard to believe that I have been Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development for almost a year now. We have had many important successes to celebrate including strong commodity prices, the development of a new Growing Forward agreement, and expanded access for our beef in lucrative export markets such as Japan.” He also acknowledged the industry had to overcome some challenges; record hail damage last summer, the temporary shutdown of the Brooks beef-processing plant and the rat infestation in Medicine Hat.
Agriculture produces staggering numbers in support of economy
    “We are continuing to invest in rural development with more than $43 million in funding for agricultural societies, agriculture service boards, exhibitions and other initiatives. In 2012, the Conference Board of Canada released a detailed analysis that concluded the total economic footprint of Alberta’s rural economy is approximately $79 billion, each year. With that kind of contribution it is obvious why maintaining strong rural communities is so essential. As our province’s largest renewable industry, agriculture generated more than $9 billion in exports last year. It employed more than 73,000 people.” 
    Alberta farmers are a happy group. Led by strong crop and livestock prices, it is expected 2013 will be a record-setting year for total farm income. According to the latest forecast, Alberta’s total farm cash receipts for 2012 will be a record $11.7 billion. Those numbers are clearly indicative of a strong agriculture industry.
Future of agriculture driven by innovation
    “Growing Forward 2, our new five-year agreement with the Federal Government will be an important step toward making this happen. (grow and diversify through innovation) There is a much stronger focus on strategic programs that will support greater innovation in our industry. More than $400 million will be invested over the next five years in initiatives such as research, international market development, investment attraction, environment stewardship and water management. That’s a 50 per cent increase from the previous Growing Forward agreement.”
    Minister Olson challenges Albertans. “Now, more than ever, we have to focus on ways we can increase our success to further diversify our economy and strengthen our rural communities. It’s about doing things smarter and better. It’s about opening new opportunities for our producers and our entrepreneurs. If Alberta is to compete on the world stage and expand trade with important markets such as Asia and Europe ... we must continue to be industry leaders. And we must also continue to look for value-added opportunities here at home.”
    Growing enterprises are helping diversify the agriculture industry while also spurring rural development by creating jobs and spinoff economic activity. “Our future success will stem from our commitment to be innovative and to continue to work in partnership with the community leaders, businesses, industry associations and farmers of rural Alberta. Rural Alberta continues to be the foundation that keeps this province standing strong. By working together to continue to build our industries and communities, we can make sure that strength continues into the future.” 
    Minister Olson sums up his comments by stating, “While there is a tendency for people to think that a vibrant rural Alberta is part of our past, we know that it is a big part of Alberta’s future.”

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