The organization will shut down, its chair said
By Diego Flammini
An Alberta ag industry group will have to cease operations because of a lack of government funding.
The Plant Protein Alliance of Alberta (PPAA) formed three years ago to help processors, suppliers, researchers and other stakeholders connect with one another.
“We formed because we saw a need and having a connecting organization would fill that need,” Allison Ammeter, chair of the PPAA, told Farms.com.
In addition to charging membership fees over the past two years, PPAA received about $250,000 of funding from Alberta Agriculture and Forestry each year to help run the organization.
PPAA was in the process of securing funding for 2021 when the organization received word from the ag ministry that the funding wasn’t coming this year.
“At the beginning of March, they said they were going to give us the core funding,” Ammeter said. “They gave us an amount that was less than what we wanted but enough for us to continue. We started the back and forth emails to word our funding proposals properly. Then on March 31, the last day of the fiscal year for the government, they told us there was no funding. Without it, we have to wind down.”
The ag ministry didn’t come through with the funding because money had run out.
The ministry received several applications which used up available funding, said Justin Laurence, press secretary to Agriculture and Forestry Minister Devin Dreeshen.
“There were a high number of grant applications this year, totaling more funding than what was available,” he told Farms.com in an emailed statement. “The focus was to actively attract value-added investments and projects across Alberta to create jobs.
“Over the last 3 years Alberta’s government provided the PPAA with nearly $800,000 in grants to cover expenses and webinars. During that time, they did great work and we thank them for their efforts.”
It’s because of the work they did that makes the closure even more painful.
The PPAA worked to bring global industry stakeholders to Western Canada, Ammeter said.
“We were instrumental in bringing Bridge2Food to the Prairies in 2019,” she said. “It was the fist time this international protein conference had been held outside of Lille, France. “We held webinars and did lots of things behind the scenes that we’re extremely proud of.”
Ammeter is concerned the closure of the PPAA could have further negative effects on Alberta.
If groups see the provincial government isn’t willing to invest in ag groups, others may be hesitant to invest in the province, she said.
“We’re concerned the message being sent is one that says Alberta is not working to attract more business,” she said. “We know Manitoba and Saskatchewan are, and we need the government to send the same message as the other Prairie provinces.”
Supporting the plant protein sector is important for the government, Laurence said.
“Building the plant protein industry in Alberta will continue to be a priority for our government,” he said. We are currently working on six plant-protein investment projects which are valued at over $500 million and have the potential to create over 325 jobs.”