NDP ag minister plans to keep focus on protein processing in Manitoba

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Manitoba’s NDP agriculture minister says he wants to maintain a focus on value-added protein production and processing in the province, continuing with one of the flagship initiatives of the previous Progressive Conservative government.

After a seven-year hiatus while the PCs were in power, Ron Kostyshyn returned to the role of Manitoba’s agriculture minister following the New Democrats’ election win in October.

Kostyshyn sat down with RealAgriculture at Ag Days in Brandon this week, where he discussed funding announcements for the Manitoba Farmer Wellness Program and Assiniboine Community College, as well as changes to crop insurance for 2024, and his government’s priorities for the agriculture sector.

The Manitoba Protein Advantage strategy was launched by the rival PCs during Ag Days in 2020, and Kostyshyn says he wants to see the emphasis on protein — both plant and animal — continue.

“Definitely. When we originally met with Protein Manitoba not that long ago, the wishlist is extremely high, moving forward on that component. We’ve used some dollars through SCAP (Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership), and we’ll continue to do that. It’s a new venue and definitely it’s a strong venue of opportunities that we see,” the minister says. “Manitoba is in a perfect position to address that issue and creates more jobs and businesses as well.”

He says adding more value to agricultural commodities in the province is also a priority for Premier Wab Kinew, who toured the farm show with Kostyshyn on Tuesday.

“I’ve been seconded by the premier to basically, get serious about doing some added-value and the opportunity of building more businesses,” he says. “We tend to market our commodities in truck loads or train loads out of the province. Let’s maybe keep some of that back. And let’s put some of that product into added-value and packaging, and selling it locally, throughout the world, or throughout the province, or in Canada.”

While in Brandon, Kostyshyn participated in announcements of federal/provincial funding of $450 thousand over three years for the Manitoba Farmer Wellness program and $1.3 million over five years to Assiniboine Community College (ACC) — both through programs under the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership.

He also announced updates for AgriInsurance in 2024, including a pilot program for small-scale vegetable producers. Manitoba crop producers can expect to pay an average premium of $16.21 per acre in 2024 compared to $19.21 per acre in 2023, reflecting lower commodity prices.

Listen to Ron Kostyshyn discuss the NDP government’s plans for the agriculture sector, including crop insurance changes for ’24, the future of extension offices, and more, at Manitoba Ag Days in Brandon:

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