Farm Freedom & Safety
The Vermilion-Lloydminster-Wainwright Constituency hosted the Alberta Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, the Honourable Devin Dreeshen, at the Vermilion Agricultural Society on August 9. MLA Garth Rowswell was thrilled to host area producers and Minister Dreeshen as part of his tour around the province seeking input to the new Farm Freedom & Safety Act. “The turnout was perfect! I liked the seriousness and quality of individuals that were here. Overall we saw really good representation from throughout the constituency including participants from Lloydminster, Kitscoty, Streamstown, Vermilion, Irma, and Wainwright. We are also thankful to Minister Dreeshen for making a special effort to attend. One of the big issues is occupational health and safety, and going forward people want an educational component so that they know what things they will have to do to comply. Farmers want to be safe, but they want the regulations to be something they can comply with and match other jurisdictions,” said MLA Garth Rowswell. Local producer, Brent Fischer runs a mixed grain and cattle operation near Irma. He was eager to attend partly to hear the United Conservative Party’s plans for dealing with the previous government’s Bill 6 and partly to voice his opinion. “Farmers are very proud people and they run their businesses as safe as any industry because they have the most invested into it. Besides the products, the agriculture industry produces some of the best people. I don’t want us to be overregulated in our industry. We need to start from scratch for the new bill,” said Fischer. Minister Dreeshen noted that in 2015, the previous government did not consult farmers and said, “We wanted to consult first and legislate second. People are very supportive of the process and it is being well received by farmers because ultimately, they will be the ones affected. Whatever happens at the end of the day, we want a policy that it is proactive and can help prevent workplace incidents instead of looking back and getting people in trouble for not following regulations.” He went on to say that two reoccurring themes heard around the province include producers having a choice in insurance, as well as the bill having an education focus. The Government of Alberta plans to have their Farm Freedom & Safety consultations complete by the end of August, and will issue a consensus of what they heard to all of the farmers who participated. They intend on introducing the new legislation before the end of the year.