Manitoba’s agriculture minister sets a course for economic development and value-added products in rural areas
For the third time since taking office in 1999, Manitoba’s New Democrats have changed the name of the provincial department responsible for agriculture.
During a mid-October cabinet shuffle, Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives became Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (MAFRD).
“Rural development goes hand in hand with agriculture… so we’re refocusing on the rural economy and the name change reflects that,” said Minister Ron Kostyshyn, who retained the portfolio during the shuffle. “The biggest thing is how can we — through our new definition — provide opportunities for farm-related industry, the rural economy and small communities.”
The department’s name began as simply Manitoba Agriculture. Food was added in 1999. Rural Initiatives was tacked on in 2003.
Kostyshyn made it clear that valued-added products would be central to the new push for the development of the rural economy, citing hopes for new products in the biomass sector, such as flax-based building materials.
“We wanted to get the message out that initiative was the seed, rural development is now — let’s work together, let’s bring your ideas forward,” he said.
The minister did not comment on what costs might be associated with name change, including new signs, stationery and promotional material.
“It will be a transition, no doubt about it, but it’s not going to happen overnight,” he said, adding, “We’re there to work with the rural economy, not that we weren’t before, but we want to just reset that button and send a message out — let’s work with your ideas and hopefully we can develop the rural economy.”