Hay River South
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The need for a strategy to advance economic opportunities and agriculture was identified in the 2013 Economic Opportunities Strategy. Subsequently, the 18th Assembly developed an agricultural strategy that looked to expand the agricultural sector, increase local food production, increase producer and supplier opportunities, and improve distribution networks for NWT food and food-related products.
Three terms later, this 19th Legislative Assembly continues on a path looking to increase employment in small communities, reduce the cost of living, increase economic diversification, and increase food security; all the components we would expect in developing a strong and sustainable agricultural sector. The Minister of ITI must either reject, revise, or accept the strategy of the 18th Assembly if we are to make it our own and move it forward. I would say, let us move on it, and make it a reality.
Mr. Speaker, if we are to build a relevant and viable agricultural industry, we must ensure that the legislation is in place to make it work. We must ensure that producers have access to land, and that land cost is reasonable. We must provide the support and resources producers require. We must encourage and provide new and upcoming producers with training opportunities. We must partner with the federal government to leverage agricultural funding, and most importantly, we must partner with Indigenous peoples to ensure they have provided an opportunity to participate in a meaningful way. This approach will enhance the probability of successfully delivering on the agricultural strategy.
The reality is that we have a number of producers who are hampered by lack of clarity around agricultural expansion. They are forced to approach it from the standpoint of hobby farming. These same producers are ready to move up to the next level of production, and we, as government, must support them by removing existing barriers and providing the support required to make it happen.
Mr. Speaker, we have to remember that each producer is unique. We must work in collaboration with them while taking a small-steps approach to building on each component and each success if we expect to succeed. If we expect to capture all elements of agriculture in one big swoop, we will ultimately fail; and if we do nothing, we will fail. Let's get to work. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.