Blaine Pedersen will take over for Ralph Eichler
By Diego Flammini
Manitoba’s ag industry will have a new representative in the provincial legislature.
Blaine Pedersen, the MLA for Midland, is the new agriculture and resource development minister. He takes over for Ralph Eichler, who served as minister of agriculture under Premier Pallister since May 2016.
Pallister named Eichler the economic development and training minister. This department will oversee post-secondary education.
The premier swore in his new cabinet in Oct. 23. The 14-member cabinet includes some new and expanded ministries. Some cabinet ministers changed portfolios, too.
In his expanded role as minister of agriculture and resource development, Pedersen will be responsible for the agriculture portfolio, as well as forestry, mining, fish and wildlife management.
A grain and cattle farmer for more than 30 years, Pedersen knows firsthand the challenges Manitoba farmers face.
“I'm very familiar with the situation of the harvest all across Manitoba,” he said, Portage Online reported. “Everyone's hoping for better weather so we can pull it off. There're feed shortages in the north for beef producers and quality issues for the grain that coming off across the ag region.
“The (ministry of agriculture) is well in touch with the community and so we'll get regular updates. It's sort of a day-by-day and week-by-week progress here.”
Producers have ideas for what Pedersen should look at early on in his tenure as ag minister.
Ensuring farm fuels are exempt from the carbon tax would be beneficial for producers, said Richard Dureault, a grain farmer from Fannystelle, Man.
“Getting propane for drying purposes exempted from the carbon tax would be important,” he told Farms.com. “I’d like to see all drying fuels exempt to be honest. Right now, our diesel is exempt, but fuels like propane and natural gas that we use to dry grain aren’t.”
Pork producers also have suggestions for Pedersen.
“I think, considering how much African swine fever is out in the world, we have to be prepared for what the consequences would be if it arrived in this country,” George Matheson, chair of Manitoba Pork, told Farms.com. “We have to have some mechanism in place so that we’re not scrambling on day one.”
Premier Pallister swears in Minister Pedersen around the 8:00 mark of the video.