Minister Carlier will receive a report from the Local Food Council later in the year
By Diego Flammini
Alberta’s agriculture and forestry minister outlined a food report, international trade and reducing greenhouse gas emissions as priorities for 2019.
A report from a local food group is one of the items on Minister Oneil Carlier’s agenda this year.
In October, Carlier assembled 15 members of the ag community to form the Local Food Council.
The group is putting together a report for the ag minister outlining how to help grow and sustain the province’s local food sector, which is worth about $1 billion.
“I’m looking forward to the Local Food Council’s interim report and I’ll be interested to know where their work is and what more we can do as government or perhaps as industry to continue making sure our local food sector remains robust,” he told Call of the Land.
More work is necessary before the group can submit anything to Minister Carlier, said Susan Schafers, an egg farmer and co-chair of the Local Food Council.
“We’ve identified a number of topics we want to work on throughout the year,” Schafers told Farms.com. “Some of those topics are market access, food safety and consumer awareness. We’re just in the process of going through those topics and outlining recommendations.
“Our goal is to bolster Alberta’s food sector, and how we (can) do that is still a work in progress. Anything is on the table right now but we have work things down to see what’s efficient, workable, financially feasible and acceptable for the public.”
Minister Carlier will also keep an eye on Canada’s involvement in international trade.
Canada became one of the first six countries to ratify the CPTPP in October, which will give Canadian farmers early access to important markets like Japan.
During the Economic and Fall Strategic Dialogue in Beijing in November, Canada and China pledged to double ag trade by 2025. Canada currently exports about $7 billion in ag products to China annually.
“I think there’s opportunities (within Europe and Asia) and I think we should pursue them,” Carlier said. “I know there’s a lot of producers and processors within Alberta that are looking forward to doing business all around the world.”
In addition, Carlier is interested in how the industry will work to reduce greenhouse emissions.
Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan sets several targets including reducing methane emissions by 45 per cent by 2025.
Farmers will play a large part in the plan’s success, Carlier said.
“Farmers want to know what they can do to lower their own greenhouse gas emissions, but there are a lot of cases with some real economic advantages as well,” he said.
“If you can put in low pressure pivots in your irrigation system or solar panels on your dairy operation, you’re going to be able to find those greenhouse gas emission efficiencies as well, but you’ll find some economic efficiencies and make your operation profitable while doing your part to lower pollution.”