Alberta Agriculture Deputy Minister, John Knapp, spoke to producers about how Alberta Agriculture is putting a strategy in place to reconnect with rural Alberta and help to enable success for members of the livestock value chain.
Two examples that he gave were:
- Creating an irrigation department that focuses on improving the efficiency of water application and improving crop production in Alberta. With the use of irrigation Albertans are able to produce high value crops.
- Attaching a specialist to every Ag service board in the province. This will increase the two way communication so that initiatives can move forward and allow for change to happen at a faster rate.
John Knapp focused most of his discussion on the Alberta Livestock Meat Strategy (ALMS) which is an integral part of bringing livestock producers back to profitability which will lead to sustainability in the sector.
ALMS is the big umbrella strategy which includes Alberta Livestock Meat Agency (ALMA) and certain programs of the Alberta Financial Services Corporation (AFSC). ALMA will be the catalyst and funder to make sure the industry moves forward. John Knapp said that Alberta has to move forward by improving the cattle genome and improving barley yields by investing in feed grain research. There are also cost issues between Canada and the US. Our American friends have a $64 a head cost advantage over Canadian producers. Much of that cost is due to the slow drug registration system in Canada. Knapp said that we need to reform the time it takes to get new advantageous drugs approved in Canada in comparison to the US.
The one characteristic about John Knapp that I really like is that he is very approachable and willing to at least have the discussion about what needs to change to improve agriculture in Alberta. In the couple times that I have met John Knapp, he is willing to talk to producers and not just fly in and fly out like some other politicians tend to do. The one thing that I completely agree with the Alberta Government on is that all beef industry groups and all members of the value chain need to finally work together and stop pointing fingers and work together to make sure we have a successful industry going forward.