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Alta. reorganizes agriculture programming

Alberta’s provincial agriculture department has “strategically restructured” its program and service delivery, putting more emphasis on support services for agribusinesses and livestock producers.

“When I announced the Alberta Livestock and Meat Strategy (ALMS) earlier this summer, I also asked for an internal department review to help the livestock industry with its transformation and revitalization,” Agriculture Minister George Groeneveld said in a release Monday. “This reorganization is necessary to support a successful transition of the livestock industry.”

Programming lines up under three assistant deputy ministers within Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development. Those deputies oversee the policy and environment arm, the industry development and food safety arm, and the rural development, corporate and regulatory services arm respectively.

ALMS was announced in June as the province’s plan revitalize the livestock sector, enhance the value chain and make the changes needed to build a competitive livestock industry.

The launch of ALMS came with a pledge of $150 million in immediate aid payments, with another $150 million where that came from for livestock producers who help create a provincial brand for their meat by setting up age verification and premises ID systems through ALMS. A new Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency was set up to run ALMS and was allocated $56 million to establish itself.

Under Groeneveld’s restructuring as outlined Monday, 13 hub offices in Fairview, Grande Prairie, Barrhead, Stony Plain, Leduc, Camrose, Vermilion, Stettler, Red Deer, Olds, Airdrie, Brooks and Lethbridge, are to deliver “enhanced services with a focus on the business of agriculture.”

Work with the Agriculture Service Boards and respective municipalities will be enhanced through “key contact staff members,” the province said Monday. Also, the Irrigation and Farm Water Division will double the current number of farm water specialists.

Furthermore, 30 more age verification staff would be made available to assist producers in age-verifying their 2008 calf crop, the province said.

Farm safety programs will be enhanced, the province added, and department specialists will continue to be available to speak and deliver information to community groups.

“Alberta’s agriculture industry needs to be able to access the depth of specialist knowledge, research and business development expertise that resides within the department,” Groeneveld said.

“Providing supports to our agriculture partners across all components of the agriculture and food industry allows us to sustain the natural resource base of the industry and encourage the development of rural communities.”

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