Innisfail-Sylvan Lake MLA Devin Dreeshen says it is humbling to have be named the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry.
He says he feels confident in the new role, as far as agriculture goes.
“I know the agriculture side of things inside and out, the forestry side will take some getting used to and some learning,” Dreeshen said.
While forestry may not be his expertise, Dreeshen says he understands its importance and connection to agriculture, adding the two go “hand in hand.”
Dreeshen called being named to the cabinet “pretty neat.”
“I had hoped to be named [Minister of Agriculture and Forestry], I had a lot of experience behind me, but you can never be too sure,” Dreeshen said. “Ultimately it came down to the Premier and what he felt was right.”
Dreeshen, a fifth-generation farmer, has worked as a farmer on his own land near Pine Lake. Before being elected as Innisfail-Sylvan Lake’s MLA during the 2018 by-election, Dreeshen also worked behind the scenes federally, advocating for Canada’s producers.
For eight years, Dreeshen worked with Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz as a policy advisor.
He says he plans to bring his federal experience to Alberta to work for the local producers.
“Right now I think our largest issues is with trade, especially with China no longer allowing Canadian canola, and most recently denying pork exports, which has hurt a plant in Red Deer.”
Dreeshen says doors are starting to close for Canadian farmers, and hopes to use his tenure as Minister of Agriculture and Forestry to find ways to diversify options for Alberta producers.
“We can’t rely on exporting our product, roughly 40 per cent, to just one country, which right now is China,” he said.
He says diversifying the market will take time, and will require face-to-face meetings in order to create good and lasting relationships with other countries.
When it comes to working as both a minister and a MLA, Dreeshen says it is a balancing act.
“I’m going to do the best I can to balance both of my roles,” he said, adding “I will be stretched a bit more with my new role, but I think that is something all ministers have to work with.”
He says he is humbled by the overwhelming support Alberta’s have given him and the United Conservative Party, and says it is now time for those elected to get to work to follow through on the promises made during the campaign.