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Former Premier Brad Wall says biggest challenge in Canadian Agriculture is Justin Trudeau

Brad Wall has enjoyed his move from politics to ranching in the Cypress Hills.

He served as the MLA for Swift Current from 1999 to 2018, was acclaimed as leader of the Saskatchewan Party in 2004, and was first elected as premier in 2007.

"It's been a blessing. I mean, I got to do my dream job for 10 years. If someone would have told me at the end of that, when I knew it was time for renewal for the government, and for even for me. That I would enjoy whatever came next as much or even more than that job, I would have thought now that's probably not right, but sure enough, that's what's  happened."

After leaving politics, he set up a consulting business and moved to the Cypress Hills, where he set up a partnership with his son Colter in a yearling operation. He's enjoying life riding through the hills, spending time in the saddle and working cattle with his neighbors and area ranchers. 

"For a want to be cowboy, I've made sure to try to get invited to as many cow moves, brandings, weaning activities, and just really, really enjoying it. Enjoying the people, making so many new friends, and being sort of more on the front line of agriculture than I was in my old job, certainly."

After five years of drought in his area, he's thankful to finally see some moisture, noting that along with that, we've seen strong cattle prices, which has resulted in a lot more optimism in the agriculture sector.

"I think we should feel confident about Saskatchewan agriculture and Western Canadian agriculture right now. We still are growing what the world wants.  We're still going to be subject to cycles, but you know we have potential to see the continued increase in exports that we've seen in so many crops, especially in the newer markets like Asia. We've seen new markets open up and get stronger, and stronger for pulses or oilseeds and that's very positive. And including for cattle in some markets that were previously closed to beef."

He notes that despite the optimism in the agriculture industry, issues like the carbon tax and the changes in the capital gains inclusion rate are a key concern.

"It's a concern for me. These are two issues I think the other thing that modern agriculture, that Western Canadian agriculture has is to be wary of these non government agencies that aren't maybe in favor of modern agriculture. Don't like what and how we go about things, especially for these NGO's. They targeted Canadian oil very successfully up to 15 years ago. We need to remember that Canada's oil and gas industry, which was successfully branded as dirty oil by these folks, amazingly so given how sustainably we approach that industry. But they were successful in that branding and we need to remember that the oil and gas is a cautionary tale for modern agriculture. We need to be vigilant, we need to be proactive in our communications and push back. And of course, when it comes to politics, we need to make it very clear the carbon tax and these capital gains tax changes are also not helpful at all for agriculture."

He says producers, if they use their voices, can get the federal government's attention. Ultimately, the best way, to ensure that federal government policies are not anti-ethical to agricultural in this country is to vote for a government whose policies are, in fact, positive for agriculture.

"Western Canadians, by and large, are ready to vote for a change, but maybe not so much in central Canada just yet. So I think as much as we need producers and ranchers to communicate to their politicians, we also need them to communicate and their associations to communicate with other Canadians and tell them the impact on the farm and on the ranch of these policies."

He points out that in the prairies, we are fortunate to have provincial governments that are supportive of agriculture and open up new markets for our commodities, but when it comes to federal government, he doesn't see the same support.

"I think the biggest challenge is Justin Trudeau. That's what I would say. I think that federal government poses the biggest risk to Western Canadian industries, gas and oil are on the list, but certainly agriculture is on the list."

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