Cattleman named Manitoba ag minister in shuffle

A northwestern Manitoba cow-calf producer and former municipal reeve will be the province’s new minister for agriculture, food and rural initiatives.

Ron Kostyshyn, who replaced retiring ex-deputy premier Rosann Wowchuk last fall as the NDP MLA for the Swan River riding, was named to the portfolio Friday in a partial cabinet shuffle by Premier Greg Selinger.

The new ag minister farms on over 2,500 acres near Ethelbert, about 65 km northwest of Dauphin, where he maintains a 200-head cow-calf operation.

Kostyshyn entered provincial politics in last October’s election; he previously sat as the reeve for the Rural Municipality of Mossey River, north of Dauphin Lake.

He has also previously served on boards such as the Intermountain Conservation District, Ethelbert District Veterinary Board, Manitoba Conservation Commission, Farm Stewardship Association of Manitoba and Association of Manitoba Municipalities.

Manitoba Beef Producers said Friday it "welcomes the expertise and experience Minister Kostyshyn will bring on key issues affecting producers across the province."

Keystone Agricultural Producers, the province’s general farm organization, also hailed Kostyshyn’s ag experience and his previous work with the Manitoba Conservation District Association.

"This is a critical time for government and farmers to work together and we look forward to meeting with the new minister," KAP president Doug Chorney said in a release. "KAP has worked with Mr. Kostyshyn in other roles in the past and has fostered a good working relationship with him."

Conservation and water

As ag minister, Kostyshyn replaces Dauphin MLA Stan Struthers, who in October had been renamed to the ag post he’d held since 2009.

Selinger in October also named Struthers as acting finance minister, replacing Wowchuk. In this shuffle, Struthers will remain in the finance portfolio.

In another ag-related move Friday, Selinger shuffled longtime NDP cabinet minister Gord Mackintosh to a newly-merged conservation and water stewardship ministry.

Mackintosh, the MLA for the north Winnipeg riding of St. John’s since 1993, replaces both Christine Melnick, who moves from water stewardship to the immigration and multiculturalism file, and Energy and Mines Minister Dave Chomiak, who had filled in as conservation minister since October.

Selinger on Friday also created a new ministry of children and youth opportunities, naming another north Winnipeg MLA, Kevin Chief, to that file.

Related stories:

First female ag minister won’t seek re-election, July 4, 2011

Man. ag minister re-elected in fourth NDP majority, Oct. 5, 2011

Man. ag minister reappointed, named finance minister, Oct. 20, 2011

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