Follow-ups: Ag Minister Marit on AgriRecovery, Ag Water Stewardship Policy, Trade Trip to Mexico

Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister David Marit is still awaiting word from Ottawa regarding their contribution to AgriRecovery.

In late-August, the province announced $70-million towards the program to help producers who were impacted by drought conditions.

Marit says the last conversation he had with his federal counterpart Lawrence MacAulay, he’d hoped to have an answer by the end of September.

“We encourage the federal government to look at this. Our producers are anxiously waiting for this; we got a lot of producers that had to go and buy a lot of feed, truck it, or haul their herd somewhere,” Marit said. “I’m very hopeful that I hear something before the end of the week that the federal government is in on the program.”

We want to get this right: Ag Minister

Marit also commented on the province’s Agriculture Water Stewardship Policy, which is still in the consultation phase until the end of this year.

One of the policy’s goals is to strike a balance of being resilient against flooding and drought, while supporting water quality for human use, agricultural production, industry and aquatic populations.

The Saskatchewan Alliance for Water Sustainability delivered over 22-hundred letters to the Legislature last week, which call for a wetland conservation policy and better enforcement of illegal drainage projects to be included in the Stewardship policy.

When asked about it, Marit replied wetlands and better drainage are two things that are being talked about in consultations.

“We have to have that discussion and we have to work together to say, ‘Okay, what is acceptable and what isn’t?’” he said. “We want to make sure we get this right because there’s two sides, and we just want to mitigate that and come through on a policy that works for everybody.”

The expectation is to have the stewardship policy in place by next spring.

Trade mission to Mexico

The next topic was his recent trade trip to Mexico City, where Marit led a delegation to expand trade opportunities and promote the province’s agriculture and mining sectors.

He had conversations with Trimex, a Mexican grain milling company, Bimbo, a food company and former owner of Canada Bread, the Mexican Division of CPKC, and stakeholders within the livestock industry.

“What I heard from the companies there was they really liked doing business with companies here in Canada, especially in Western Canada and Saskatchewan, so those are the relationships we really want to build on,” Marit said. “I think the one thing we’re doing is telling a great story of what the farmers and ranchers are doing in Saskatchewan on the whole high quality foods, sustainable food, and we’ll continue to grow more.   

“I think there’s some great opportunity to grow that and I think that’s why it’s important for us, as a province, to continue those relationships with countries like Mexico.” 

Marit says one issue brought up in conversation was logistics – especially getting product from Canada to Mexico in a timely manner.

“That’s why it was important to have a discussion with CPKC is to see if there’s some opportunity for growth there, and obviously they’re excited about it especially in Mexico,” Marit said. “We’re given an example of a company here in Western Canada that did it – a train to a company in Mexico – and the logistic time travel was 14 days.

“If we can see that kind of turn around and that kind of movement of the goods from Western Canada to Mexico, then maybe there’s a greater opportunity.” 

In 2022, Saskatchewan exports to Mexico exceeded $1-billion. The majority of exports (97 percent) are agri-food products, including canola oil, canola seed, and non-durum wheat.

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