MLA Mark Smith

MLA Mark Smith

MLA Mark Smith: Alberta’s economic recovery plan

Alberta’s economy is heating up, even as the temperatures grow cold.

Despite the chilly season, our caucus has been hard at work. We continue to prioritize Alberta’s Recovery Plan, which is our action-focused plan to get Albertans back to work and usher in a new era of prosperity. Last year, we added hundreds of thousands of new jobs to our economy, and the numbers indicate high levels of growth across all sectors. Things are looking up for everyone, including our dynamic agriculture sector.

Albertans rely on the hard work of our farmers and livestock producers. Unfortunately, last year, Alberta experienced severe drought conditions across the province. Our government worked with Alberta’s agriculture producers to ensure their needs were being met through these challenging circumstances. Now, we’re seeing the positive results of these efforts.

On November 24, Statistics Canada released its third quarter (January to September 2021) farm cash receipts and finalized 2020 farm income estimates. I’m proud to report that for the first three quarters of 2021, farm cash receipts increased on a year-over-year basis to a new record and ranked first among all Canadian provinces.

To be specific, Alberta’s total third quarter farm cash receipts increased 15.8 per cent from the same period in 2020, to a record $13.3 billion. But not only did we rank first in total farm cash receipts – we also ranked first in livestock market receipts, cattle and calf receipts and program payments.

Alberta’s Recovery Plan is focused on growing our agriculture sector and supporting Alberta’s farmers and farm families. Our United Conservative government greatly values the role of farmers and agriculture producers across our province, and we will always be there to support them.

Our government recently announced a major investment of $117 million to improve irrigation infrastructure across 10 Alberta irrigation districts. I am also pleased to announce that agriculture producers now have another opportunity to apply for financial aid. Our next phase of support for Alberta livestock producers has now opened. Now, livestock producers and beekeepers can apply for phase two of the 2021 Canada-Alberta Livestock Feed Assistance AgriRecovery initiative. Through this program, we have been rapidly deploying assistance to thousands of producers to cover the costs incurred by last year’s drought conditions. We have committed up to $340 million in compensation to help members of this vital industry get back on their feet. You can find more information about eligibility at www.alberta.ca or at https://afsc.ca/news/phase-two-agrirecovery-applications-now-open/.

I want to offer my sincere thanks to all Albertans who are a part of the agriculture industry. This past year has been difficult, but your hard work has helped keep our province afloat. We want to see your businesses not only recover, but also prosper in the coming year.

— Mark Smith, MLA for Drayton Valley – Devon