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Sask. NDP has new ag critic

Saskatchewan’s newest NDP MLA and agriculture critic is a Regina lawyer with a strong farm connection.

Yens Pedersen, who won the Regina Northeast byelection in September, was sworn in Oct. 17 ahead of the Oct. 24 throne speech to start the new legislative session.

If Pedersen is a familiar name to some, it will be from the Cut Knife, Sask., family’s long involvement in the National Farmers Union. He was national youth vice-president in the early 1990s.

Pedersen Apiaries became solely a beekeeping operation in the mid-1980s, and Pedersen keeps bees as a hobby in the city, even teaching beekeeping classes.

“Beekeeping isn’t perhaps what most people think of when it comes to farming, but you’re just like any other farmer,” he said.

“You’re dependent on the weather, you’re dependent on prices beyond your control. You basically put in long days and everybody else gets a cut of the action long before you do.”

He said his family’s decision to get out of grain, rent out their land and focus on bees was the correct one.

Interest rates were high, the land wasn’t great and things were tough, he recalled.

Pedersen said he has maintained a strong connection to farming through his legal career and counts many farmers as clients. He is a member of the Canadian Association of Farm Advisors.

He has met with a few producers already and said he plans to build relationships with farmers and rural business owners as part of his critic duties.

“First and foremost that means listening to the concerns they have, being present,” he said.

“My plan is to get out and spend a lot of time in rural Saskatchewan meeting with people.”

In the assembly, Pedersen will face a new agriculture minister. David Marit took over from Lyle Stewart during the summer.

Pedersen is also the NDP’s environment critic.

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