Speech by MLA Dana Skoropad - Ag-West Bio is an important partner

Posted on April 27, 2022

The following is a speech that was delivered by Dana Skoropad, MLA for Arm River on behalf of David Marit, Saskatchewan's Minister of Agriculture, at the Ag-West Bio Networking Reception held March 28, 2022 at the Legislative Building in Regina. 
Good afternoon, everyone.
On behalf of Premier Scott Moe and the Government of Saskatchewan, thank you for the opportunity to be with you today.
I want to take a moment first to acknowledge and commend the great work being done by Karen and the leadership team at Ag-West Bio.
It’s a privilege for our government to work with you and with your organization to help build such a diverse and dynamic part of our economy.
More and more, we must enable the kind of innovation necessary to continue producing the high-quality products our markets want and need.
Ag-West Bio is an important partner that supports and promotes the bio-science sector in Saskatchewan.
We appreciate their role in supporting innovators as they commercialize their research and products and, as a result, deepen our economic resiliency.
Ag-West Bio offers diverse and flexible programming to the industry that builds on the government programs we develop—such as the recently launched Knowledge Farm event series.
We need to keep thinking strategically about how Ag-West Bio’s programming and services can complement our own efforts to achieve investment attraction objectives.
It’s a one-two punch that drives home the importance of collaboration—and what we can achieve through it.
The bio-science sector is diverse, ranging not only in size but also type of operations; this makes addressing their needs challenging.
Ag-West Bio helps create connections between entrepreneurs, industry and scientists.
It delivers training programs and assists early-stage companies in commercializing their projects and technologies.  
Their success—your success—contributes directly to the progress laid out in Saskatchewan’s Growth Plan.
We fund Ag-West Bio with $1.7 million annually through a five-year agreement under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership.
This helps achieve the objectives in their strategic plan in support of those Growth Plan targets.
Early-stage financing and mentorships are two things businesses can use to advance ideas and expand operations. 
Programming and services targeting specific areas is one way to build capacity in the industry and commercialize new innovative technologies and products.
Business incubation or acceleration could also be explored to further support the sector.
Indeed, Ag-West Bio has taken a lead role in the development and launch of the Global Agri-Food Advancement Partnership.
These things are part of our collaborative effort to encourage industry growth with strategic research investments through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership.
This year, through the Agriculture Development Fund, we announced a total of $14.2 million in joint federal-provincial funding for crop and livestock and forage research projects.
These researchers are focusing on areas important and relevant to our agriculture producers and the industry as a whole.
It’s no secret that Saskatchewan places a high priority on innovation.
It’s key to meeting our Growth Plan objectives for 2030.
Those objectives are not only based on increasing capacity and output, but also on technology development and best practices that continually allow us to work smarter.
Research is fundamental to reaching those goals.
They include: 
  • increasing our provincial crop production to 45 million tonnes;
  • increasing agriculture exports to $20 billion; and
  • increasing value-added revenue to $10 billion by the end of this decade.
What does this industry need to act on to unlock more potential and long-term growth while having a positive impact on society and the environment?
Continued investment in research is one answer.
Research infrastructure allows us to apply crop research on genetic varieties to breed traits that are valued by industry. 
Saskatchewan had unique capacity to explore new processing technologies based on the cluster of scientific expertise in the Saskatoon area.
We recognize the need to develop new agricultural knowledge and technologies—especially ones relevant to our climatic conditions—and that we can do this by supporting research expertise and scientific capacity. 
Over one-third of Canada’s ag-biotech industry is located right here in Saskatchewan—making our provincial bioscience cluster a world-class hub of infrastructure and resources.
By continuing to invest in value-added processing, we can keep attracting processors to Saskatchewan.
This will lead to more predictable prices for producers and help us develop new methods to add value to co-products of processing.
We will continue investing in livestock and forage research to increase productivity of our animals and pastures to produce high quality animal protein for our markets.
Our agricultural sector already enjoys an excellent international reputation as a consistent supplier of safe, high quality, sustainability-produced agri-food products.
The global market is constantly changing—and we know that new ideas, new technology and new practices will keep us competitive in that market.
We’re ready for the kind of continued expansion we’re anticipating in the agriculture sector in the decade ahead.
We’ve worked hard to create a competitive business climate that attracts investments in these areas.
One of our biggest advantages lies in our proximity to high quality, abundant ingredients. 
Our province has safe and relatively low-cost agricultural production, a well-respected science cluster, a supportive business environment and a good international reputation.
As a result, we’re well-positioned to grow our domestic and international markets.
We can do this by seizing opportunities that come with an increasing demand for food, feed, fuel and fibre.
Ag-West Bio helps us not only to seize those opportunities, but to create them.
New ideas and good ideas are the currency of an expanding economy like ours.
New ideas and good ideas are what keep producers and businesses competitive and thriving.
When they thrive, our communities thrive, and even our smallest communities remain part of the economic backbone of Saskatchewan.
Don’t underestimate how important all of you are to this process.
Your work every day across this province is needed and valued, and we’re grateful to you for it.
Here’s to an informative and productive evening, and an exciting future of potential for our province, courtesy of Ag-West Bio.
Thank you.
Posted with the author's permission.
Ag-West Bio