Alberta Beef Producers’ Chair Dr. Melanie Wowk and staff Mark Lyseng were invited to join the House of Commons of Canada’s Standing Committee on Industry and Technology this month, to discuss ranchers’ roles in the greening of the prairie economy.
“It was an absolute honour to be invited to speak on behalf of Alberta’s beef producers,” says ABP Chair, Dr. Melanie Wowk.
The proceedings focused on Bill C-235, Building a Green Prairie Economy Act.
The Bill requires “the Ministry of Industry, in collaboration with the Minister of the Environment, the Minister of Transport, the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Natural Resources and any minister responsible for economic development in the Prairie provinces, to develop a framework for local cooperation and engagement in the implementation of federal programs across various sectors to build a green economy in the Prairie provinces.”
“Our goal was to emphasize the role of the grasslands and encourage Committee members to include beef producers at the table,” says Wowk. “We are focused on continually improving the sustainability of our industry, and that is why we were very happy to be a part of this discussion.”
“The discussion with very well received, with several MPs stating that they haven’t heard the environmental benefits beef is providing to society,” says Government Relations and Policy, Lead, Mark Lyseng. “It essential as an industry that we get out there and talk to policy makers to help them better understand the good that beef does before they make decisions based on a lack of understanding.”
Wowk’s speech focused on the positive environmental impacts of ranching and collaborating with the agriculture industry, but she was able to share insight in other areas as well.
“There were a few other pieces we touched on in the questions,” says Wowk. “First, the labour shortages in transportation and processing. Second, the discussion around smaller, local processing facilities. And third, the struggles in recruitment and retention of employees in rural areas.”
The proposed framework includes measures to “promote economic sustainability and growth and employment in the Prairie Provinces.”
“For me, it’s getting the people here and setting up an environment where people can be competitive in what they’re doing,” Wowk told the Committee, adding that citizens need to know that resources like medicine and veterinary care are available to them.
“We’ve had the discussion with these communities, but the problem is, they want all these other things as well. And so the question becomes, where does the money come from to develop all of these things that people are asking for when they come to rural Alberta.”
According to the Bill, the framework must include measures like addressing transportation options, fostering job creation, integrating clean energy, and establishing programs and projects that stimulate a green economy and facilitate adaptation to climate change.
Canadian Cattle Association also had the opportunity to witness.
Bill C-235 has passed two readings in the House of Commons and rests with the Committee for deliberation.