By Amanda Brodhagen, Farms.com
Alison Redford Premier of Alberta appointed Verlyn Olson for the Agriculture and Rural Development ministerial portfolio. Olson is a lawyer by trade and has some background in agriculture.
“I know that there would be people that would say, ‘Huh, a lawyer as agricultural minister,’ but my roots are in rural Alberta” says Olson.
Although, not a farmer himself Olson is not far removed from agriculture as his father was a Massey Harris dealer and the majority of his relatives are also farmers. But there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to get up to speed. There are over 600 stakeholder groups that have been competing for his attention. Not only will he have to meet with stakeholder groups but he will also have to connect with primary producers. But Olson isn’t going to let his lack of on-the-farm experience stop him from learning the issues that are important to farmers. Fortunately, his background as a primarily rural-based lawyer will give him a step up on the legal side of agricultural policy. Olson is not only interested in the policy side of agriculture, but has a vision to encourage more young people to get involved in farming and the agricultural industry as a whole.
“I think we do need to engage in that conversation. It’s a pervasive problem. The average of a farmer is getting older. We need to spend time to encourage young people to get into the business” says Olson.
There is a lot that needs to be done so there is no time to be slacking off. The agriculture portfolio will be one to watch in the upcoming months.