Alberta Party focuses on research, value-added

Farmers can expect an elected Alberta Party government to tweak farm safety legislation, as well as kickstart a fund to bolster research.

The party’s agriculture platform, released April 8, says the party aims to grow Alberta’s agriculture industry by $1 billion through new programs and policies.

The Alberta Party said it would create an agriculture innovation program, which will provide $100 million annually starting in 2019 for research and industry-led projects, potentially upgrading plant-based proteins, biofuels, and sustainability initiatives.

“The agriculture sector has huge growth potential for our province and we want to create more value out of our products,” said party leader Stephen Mandel. “We must support farmers with smart government support.”

The Alberta Party, which is polling a distant third in the election campaign, would update the province’s farm safety legislation, providing special rules and exemptions for small farms with employees.

Mandel said small farms need to be treated differently because their businesses are unique.

He would give farmers the option of Workers’ Compensation Board coverage or private insurance.

As well, the party would exempt farmers, as well as all households, from fully paying the carbon tax.

Its climate plan would instead see a price on heavy emitters, with funds going to programs that help people reduce energy consumption.

“It’s unfair to punish Albertans for driving their cars when we are geographically spread out,” he said.

“Our system stops punishing moms and dads for living their lives and raising their families, and instead rewards industries that make concrete efforts to actually reduce carbon emissions.”

Mandel would also allow farmers to participate in renewable energy auctions, provide $2 million for an agri-tourism fund, offer $2 million for certification support and create a bee protection task force, which would provide recommendations on how to support healthy bee populations in the province.

If elected, it would review the Agriculture Financial Services Corp., ensuring it provides better service to farmers.

The party would develop succession planning programs and potentially expand service offerings for non-traditional crops and livestock.

Contact jeremy.simes@producer.com

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