Attracting investment to rural Alberta a key goal for agriculture minister

Alberta Ag Minister Nate Horner with federal Ag Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau and B.C. Ag Minister Lana Popham at the 2022 Ag in Motion farm show.

Nate Horner, Alberta’s Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation, received his mandate letter from the new premier, Danielle Smith, this week. In it, Premier Smith outlines what she expects Horner to accomplish in the short and medium term.

Horner is up to the task, he says, as a lot of what’s included in the letter was already on his radar or task list.

The first directive is to work with the Treasury Board to develop and implement a competitive value-added processing program to make Alberta more competitive with competing jurisdictions.

“We’ve done a lot of work over the last year. We’ve done a lot of analysis with other jurisdictions and spoke to dozens if not hundreds of companies,” Horner says, “And I think we’ve determined that there is a gap in the offerings in Alberta.”

Rural healthcare is also a focus for Horner. “The cost of living and health care — those are the two main issues out there [for Albertans]. So we know we know the system is is failing, frankly, and we know we know it needs some change,” he says.

Looking more broadly, Horner is also tasked with “proactively protecting Albertans from continued federal government overreach.” Horner sees this as a continuation of conversations already well-started on the new agriculture policy framework (SCAP). “There lot of good people… that want to come up with a product that can be successful and in every province, including Alberta.

Horner will also work on finalizing a Made in Alberta labeling program to increase the profile of Alberta products in the marketplace, and continue to work at streamlining trade between provinces.