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Agriculture’s place in Alberta’s budget

Agriculture’s place in Alberta’s budget

The budget provides $37 million annually to Results Driven Agriculture Research

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

Alberta Finance Minister Travis Toews tabled Budget 2022 on Thursday forecasting a $500-million surplus in 2022-23.

“We’ve worked hard across ministries to make responsible fiscal decisions and have relentlessly positioned the province for exceptional economic growth and expanded fiscal capacity, and it gives me great pleasure today to present Budget 2022, a balanced budget,” he said in his speech.

 Here’s where agriculture and rural communities fit into Alberta’s budget plans:

  • The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Economic Development’s operating expense is $860 million, about the same as in Budget 2021.
  • $1.4 billion in agribusiness investments to create 2,000 jobs by 2023-24.
  • $750 million in agriculture and natural resource projects, including $116 million over three years to expand Alberta’s irrigation infrastructure.
  • $171 million for targeted enrolment expansion in technology, ag, financial services and aviation.
  • $59 million to expand the University of Calgary’s veterinary school to address the vet shortage in rural Alberta.
  • Results Driven Ag Research (RDAR) will receive $37 million annually.

The Alberta government created RDAR, a non-profit, arm’s length agricultural research organization, in April 2020. It’s tasked with identifying research opportunities that will drive research dollars into worthy projects.

In addition, the government commits to spending $15 million over three years on a rural stream to help attract investment and create jobs.

The budget drew criticism from the opposition.

The budget scaled back capital grants in the ministry of agriculture from $83 million in Budget 2021 to $50 million in Budget 2022-23.

Rural communities need those funds, said Heather Sweet, the NDP’s agriculture critic.

“There was a complete reduction in our support for the ag societies,” she said in a Twitter post. “The very people that are providing our swimming pools and our hockey rinks. The very people that are people keeping Alberta vibrant and encouraging people to move to their local communities, lost grant funding. “

Ag groups are generally satisfied with the budget.

“We’re pretty pleased with the overall budget, but there’s a few storm clouds there if we don’t have a crop or cattle producers can’t feed their cows again in 2022,” Tom Steve, general manager of the Alberta Wheat and Barley Commission, told the Calgary Herald.

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