A familiar face is once again taking the helm at Manitoba Agriculture and Resource Development.
Ralph Eichler, who was provincial agriculture minister from 2016-19, returns to the portfolio in a cabinet shuffle after a term as minister of economic development and training.
Blaine Pedersen, who held the role from 2019, is retiring from cabinet and has announced his intention not to seek re-election in the next provincial vote.
“I have enjoyed the duties and responsibilities of cabinet. It is now time to step back from those duties as a minister. For the remainder of this term I will be continuing as MLA for Midland,” Pedersen wrote on social media following the announcement.
In a profile published by the Co-operator following Eichler’s first appointment to the role, Eichler told reporter Allan Dawson that he enjoyed motorcycles and rodeos in his personal time, but that he anticipated less of that as he assumed his new responsibilities.
“I am a workaholic… I am going to have a hard time pulling back from my responsibilities,” he said at the time.
During his first term as agriculture minister, many noted Eichler’s work ethic, including Premier Brian Pallister, who singled Eichler out on more than one occasion as a top performer in his cabinet.
Eichler returns to a portfolio that faces many challenges. In the government announcement a top priority was providing relief to the province’s hard-hit cattle sector.
Also on the agenda will be the upcoming agriculture policy framework negotiations, contentious Crown land reforms and the current drought, which weather experts say is on par with 1936 and 1988, the two driest years in the weather record.
Eichler has represented the Lakeside constituency since 2003.