Yesterday, Rick Cassson, MP Lethbridge hosted Federal Agricultural Minister, Gerry Ritz in Lethbridge. On top of serving at the Farm Credit Canada Breakfast at Ag Expo and meeting with a farmer round table, Ritz also announced 15.5 million in funding for the Canadian Triticale Biorefiniery Initiative.
I participated in the farmer round table where all twenty of the producer participants had a couple minutes to voice their opinion on any given subject. This is the first time I have met the Honorable Mr. Ritz but I have to say that he appears to be a very fast on his feet, intelligent and has a very firm grasp of the subjects at hand. Based on his opinion of the Canadian Wheat Board alone I think that we are in good hands. I cannot say that I agree with him on all subjects but you should never expect that.
The issues brought up at the round table were country of origin labeling, the creation of the certified seed tax incentive, farmers wanting a choice on how and where to market their grain, the inability of the Canadian Wheat Board to manage its finances, the inadequate rail system in Canada, consolidation of the beef industry, how to create a long term sustainable sugar beet industry, the need for public plant breeding, the need for own use allowances on certain animal drugs and crop protection products, pollination research needs, wildlife control as it pertains to sheep production, transgenic wheat and many questions about the need for government stability programs to be bankable going forward.
Afterwards I reflected to a good friend that it was great to meet Gerry Ritz and get some of his candid feelings on the issues as he really encouraged to be challenged and given ideas on how things can be improved. Thank you Mr. Ritz for taking the time to come to Lethbridge and listen to our Southern Alberta concerns.