Sask. gov’t to invest in agriculture
The Saskatchewan government will introduce an incentive program to encourage more investment in agriculture. Today’s throne speech to open the six-week fall sitting, delivered by Lieutenant-Governor Vaughn Solomon Schofield, highlighted the sector’s contribution to the economy. It pointed out the $14.4 billion worth of agricultural products exported in 2016, which accounts for more than half of provincial exports, and pledged to expand international markets.
The government noted its support for farmers and ranchers and that that support extends to food processing. “There are now more than 300 food companies operating in the province generating more than $4 billion in revenues and employing 5,000 people,” it said. “To build on this momentum, my government will launch an Agriculture Value Added New Growth Incentive intended to attract more investment into the sector.”
Details have not yet been released, but that move would fit with the promotion of agriculture’s economic potential by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s economic advisory council and the fact that two agricultural super clusters are among the final nine for federal innovation funding. The Saskatchewan Party government also said it would continue to invest in agricultural research and oppose a federal carbon tax while seeking ways to reduce greenhouse gases.
Other speech highlights include improving internet and cellular coverage in rural Saskatchewan through a $300 million network expansion and enhancement. SaskPower will also spend $1.1 billion on capital projects. Small business taxes will return to 12 percent and the income threshold for small business will rise to $600,000. The province will introduce legislation to enable the federal government’s legalization of non-medical marijuana use.
As well, a new provincial park in the Porcupine Hills south of Hudson Bay is planned. The government’s legislative agenda will be the last guided by Premier Brad Wall, who will resign once a new leader is chosen Jan. 27. The NDP opposition will also elect a new leader March 3, 2018.