Budget 2019 supports rural Alberta

Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Devin Dreeshen, highlights budget 2019’s supports for rural Alberta.
L-R: Alan Hall, executive director, Agricultural Research and Extension Council of Alberta; Minister Dreeshen; Tim Carson, chief executive officer, Alberta Association of Agricultural Societies

As well, the province is making sure agricultural research is led by farmers, not government.

Rural communities generate billions of dollars in economic activity each year, led by key sectors like agriculture and forestry, which combine to employ nearly 100,000 Albertans.

Government is being open and transparent about funding and priorities. This predictable, long-term funding is critical to help rural organizations plan for the future.

“The Alberta government is committed to funding important rural initiatives. Rural utilities, agricultural societies, irrigation districts, research and farm safety nets will be funded. With a difficult harvest, farmers can at least bank on a government that supports them.”

Devin Dreeshen, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry

Agricultural societies

  • Core funding for agricultural societies is being maintained at $11.5 million per year.
  • Agricultural societies operate more than 700 facilities across the province, including hockey rinks, curling rinks, community halls and facilities that serve rodeos and fairs, farmers markets, 4-H activities, agriculture and farm safety education.

“Alberta's agricultural societies and the facilities, programs and events they operate are essential to a high quality of life for Albertans. Government's commitment for support provides leadership and confidence that societies can continue to do important work in their communities.”

Tim Carson, CEO, Alberta Association of Agricultural Societies

Farmer-led research

  • Government is fulfilling its commitment to make sure agricultural research is led by farmers, not government.
  • Over the winter, engagements will take place with farmers to determine their research priorities, and then programs will be built to support them.
  • In the meantime, government is reducing red tape and streamlining how government-led research is delivered.
  • Members of the Agricultural Research and Extension Council of Alberta will now have more access to government funding for agricultural research projects by applying for Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) grants. There are more programs available under CAP for projects, and we are setting aside $2 million specifically for research.

“We work directly with producers to improve agricultural practices for long-term economic and environmental sustainability through access to cutting-edge information, field research and new technology. We value the opportunity to have direct input on how government research dollars should be spent, and will continue to conduct applied research and provide excellent information and knowledge that is central to the success of Alberta’s agriculture industry.”

Alan Hall, executive director, Agricultural Research and Extension Council of Alberta

Irrigation districts

  • Government will invest $48 million over four years, with $14 million in 2019-20 for irrigation infrastructure rehabilitation projects.
  • Next year, government will provide $10 million in funding, increasing to $12 million in annual funding after that.
  • Providing predictable, long-term funding is critical to help irrigation districts plan.

“Our association works to increase the level of understanding of irrigation’s value to the province and to promote progressive water-management practices. Water is vital to life, the environment and the social and economic well-being of communities. This government funding commitment ensures that irrigation in Alberta remains vibrant, sustainable and valued.”

Richard Phillips, chair, Alberta Irrigation Districts Association

Rural utilities

  • Funding for rural utilities grants has been maintained.
  • The capital grant for rural utilities for 2019-20 will be $3.4 million (this includes rural electric and rural gas).
  • The Rural Gas Grant will increase by $2.45 million starting in 2021-22.

“We continually work to help create the conditions for Alberta’s rural electrification associations to be successful and sustainable. We guide our members in implementing good governance and best practices to meet our rural communities’ electricity needs. This funding announcement supports our innovative and dynamic rural electrification associations to continue their work as part of a vibrant rural Alberta.”

Dan Astner, president, Alberta Federation of Rural Electrification Associations

“For more than 50 years, our utilities have been helping to grow communities by providing natural gas as a source of heat and fuel. This government funding commitment helps us to be proactive, and continue to support rural economies and rural utility planning for Alberta’s future.”

Bert Paulssen, chair, Federation of Alberta Gas Co-ops

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