April 14th, 2024

Lethbridge punching above its weight as agriculture shipping hub, says MLA

By Dale Woodard on May 6, 2021.

Lethbridge and southern Alberta’s agricultural roots and shipping capabilities and volume needs to be bragged up.
Lethbridge-East MLA Nathan Neudorf touched upon these subjects last week as the guest speaker at the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce’s Constituency Connections Zoom session.
At the one-hour online session, Neudorf spoke of government investments in Lethbridge and the surrounding area, including Exhibition Park, Highway 3 twinning, the expansion of irrigation canals, airport investment and almost $4 million of research funding for the college and university to help with the agriculture sector.
“So it’s really strategic tying that whole thing together,” he said. “I’m continuing to work toward a couple of new initiatives, making Lethbridge the western Canadian gateway for free trade into the United States. What I’m hoping for is a new commercial pre-inspection hub in Lethbridge for commercial traffic and commercial containers so we can have an express lane at the border into Montana to increase our efficiency and increase our trade routes. That came out of some work with Economic Development Lethbridge and City Hall.
In addressing the provincial transportation system, Neudorf pointed to southern Alberta’s agriculture roots.
“Farmers don’t tend to brag about themselves very much. They just go about their business and do what they can. They’re pretty humble in their whole presentation. They’re not out there in fancy clothes. They’re out there in jeans and gloves and mucking it up, whatever they’re doing on their own. They just get around to doing business.”
Neudorf stressed getting the word out about the amount of shipment coming out of Lethbridge by both rail and truck.
“We don’t even have to touch the pipelines coming out of northern Alberta, but that’s a massive amount of natural gas and oil and different things as well.”
In southern Alberta, it’s the amounts of grain and sugar, said Neudorf, pointing to Rogers Sugar in Taber.
“How many french fry and potato chip plants do we have in Lethbridge or just around the area? It’s three or four major producers and the private investment on top of the public investment is massive.”
Neudorf said one of Cavendish’s requests before coming here was to make sure they had access to water and transportation. 
“We’ve adjusted that and they said they needed to see more if they were going to double their plant and we did more for that. So I fully anticipate for them to follow through with their plans in 2023 to double their capacity. So that’s a lot of trucks of french fries.”
Neudorf noted the story of Let’s Pasta having won a massive northwestern United States contract for pasta all made from local products.
“It’s an incredible family story,” he said. “We need to celebrate that. I think we need to get those facts and figures out about how much we do so that people can say this is really important. To be able to ship it by rail and to be able to ship it by air and to be able to ship it regularly and efficiently by land are really key in getting that product out to different markets around the world.”
Neudorf said Lethbridge, at just over 100,000 population, is competing against Winnipeg and Vancouver as two other ports of entry.
“Not to mention Toronto. We’re punching way, way above our weight class and I think people need to know that’s an incredible feat.”
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