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Alberta cuts ag spending

Alberta cuts ag spending

Agriculture and Forestry will reduce its expenses by almost 10 per cent compared to 2018-19

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

Alberta’s ministry of agriculture had some of its funding cut in UCP Finance Minister Travis Toews’s first budget.

Agriculture and Forestry will be allotted $879 million in 2019-20, the budget document states. That figure is a reduction of about 9.1 per cent, or $88 million, compared to the 2018-19 budget under Rachel Notley’s NDP government.

During that fiscal year, the ag ministry spent $967 million.

Premier Kenney’s government will reduce spending in the ag ministry annually with a target allocation of $822 million in 2022-23.

The spending restraint isn’t surprising, said Tom Steve, general manager of the Alberta Wheat and Barley Commissions.

“The government sent a pretty strong signal, even during the election campaign, that we were going into a reduction period,” he told Farms.com. “We knew that agriculture would not be immune to that but, for the most part, the core programs (like crop insurance) are left intact.”

Specifics of the ag ministry’s budget outlook include:

  • Removing all spending for climate change initiatives. Those projects will receive $3 million this year and no funding afterwards.
  • Reducing expenses at the Agriculture Financial Services Corp. by $6.9 million by 2020-21.
  • Saving $34.1 million over four years by transitioning to a framework of producer and industry-led research.

The government will continue to fund the research, but not deliver it, Steve said.

“You could see some research delivered by universities, a third party or even crop commissions,” he said. “It’s early days so we don’t really have a strong sense of where the government is leaning, but what we look for is results-based research.”

Industry reps are planning to meet with Agriculture and Forestry Minister Devin Dreeshen in the coming weeks to discuss the research model, Steve said.

Other highlights from the provincial budget include investing $100 million in mental health programs, and $40 million to combat opioid addictions. The government would spend those amounts over a four-year period.

Farms.com has reached out to Dreeshen for comment on the budget.

Finance Minister Travis Toews



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