April 19th, 2024

MLA Schow talks prospects for ag


By Nikki Jamieson on March 24, 2021.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDssnews@sunnysouthnews.com

The provincial government has been investing heavily in the agriculture industry over the past year with funding and infrastructure announcements.
“It’s about long-term sustainability, making sure that agriculture is being supported in this province, and I fully believe that it is,” said Joseph Schow, MLA for Cardston-Siksika.
When the pandemic started a year ago in the province, it had presented some “unique challenges” for the agriculture sector. Schow says he believes the sector has adapted well in implementing safety protocols within their operations and ensuring employees are being kept safe while sustaining supply chains.
“Agriculture is, essential is an understatement,” said Schow. “I recognize this pandemic would be significantly worse if our supply chains in our agriculture sectors had been affected by this. So as a government, we’ve done everything we can to support our ag sector and I think we’ve done even more to expand it and make it even more viable going forward.”
One of the biggest issues has been COVID-19 outbreaks at meat-processing plants across the province. Since the pandemic began, there have been several outbreaks at these plants leading to temporary closures and workers dying after contracting COVID-19. Schow says everyone has responded as well as they could “under the circumstances”.
“There’s a number of concerns, but we’re trying to address them as they come up, and I think we’ve done so as well as possible.”
The provincial government’s 2021 budget was released last month, and it included more funding for irrigation. The province is contributing $245 million towards irrigation infrastructure projects in a partnership with with Canada Infrastructure Bank and eight irrigation districts, for a total of $815 million to expand irrigated acres within existing irrigation districts. On March 10, the province also introduced Bill 54, the Irrigation Districts Amendment Act, which would allow for irrigation districts to borrow funds for large-scale expansions, help increase confidence for financial lenders and help create more consistent and secure funding access funding for irrigation districts.
“We’re looking at almost $1 billion of investment for irrigation in southern Alberta, something I am so proud of because you’re looking at, and I think the most recent statistic I heard was a 3-1 return on investment. It increases the productivity of the land, it increases the value of the land, the availability of water, increases more investment opportunity for things like value-added. This is a huge investment, and it’s a clear indication that our government is committed to supporting agriculture.”

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phlushie

this is all good but the prospect of destroying our water supply by coal mining will make all this spending null and void as our products, contaminated with toxic effluent from open mining discharge, will have no market.

Fescue

I’m curious about Bill 54. I looks like more underhanded maneuvers by this goverment.

Does anyone have some insight as to why irrigation districts haven’t been allowed to borrow in the past? And how is this different from the Government of Alberta borrowing the money directly from the federal infrastructure bank? Fishy?

knowlton

I thought Schow and his UCP goons wanted to balance the budget ASAP. Funny what one year can do..