Since May 2015, when Alberta elected Rachel Notley and the NDP as its government, the province’s farmers and ranchers have had some adjusting to do. Legislative changes, such as Bill 6, have not been without controversy, but we perhaps haven’t seen the sweeping changes many feared.
Still, farmers are dealing with depressed commodity markets and tight margins. Agriculture trade is a significant driver of Alberta’s prosperity and there are calls for diversifying not just Alberta’s economy, but also the agriculture economy as well.
Oneil Carlier, the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, joined Shaun Haney in the RealAgriculture lounge at FarmTech, to talk trade, diversification, and the all-important crop input, water.
In terms of the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), Carlier feels that the agreement offers real optimism for Alberta farmers and ranchers. “CPTPP has me really excited, perhaps I was a little concerned on whether the agreement would happen since Japan didn’t seem eager to do a bilateral with Canada and was putting all its eggs in one basket with CPTPP,” he says.
NAFTA also has the Minister’s attention given the reliance Albertan producers have on north/south trade. Carlier has made several trips to the U.S. for NAFTA, and many Americans he has talked to are not happy with the U.S. president’s position on the trade agreement.
Carlier states, “They understand and know how integrated agriculture is between the three countries, don’t break something that is not broken.”
One of Carlier’s proudest moments since 2015 has been tweaking at Agriculture Financial Services Corporation (AFSC), and the big changes made to farm safety legislation. “In my conversations with famers, they want to learn more and find out how they can make their farms safer,” Carlier says.
Check out Shaun’s interview with Oneil Carlier, the Minster of Agriculture and Forestry, below to hear him discuss some of his accomplishments, challenges, and a look ahead to what is on the horizon for the department of agriculture in Alberta.