New Brunswick’s assistant deputy minister for agriculture will act as the lead bureaucrat for agriculture in the province after the current deputy retires.
Premier Brian Gallant on Wednesday named Cathy LaRochelle, assistant deputy minister for both the provincial department of agriculture, aquaculture and fisheries and the department of energy and resource development, as acting deputy minister for both departments effective Jan. 1, 2018.
In both roles, LaRochelle will replace Jean Finn, who retires effective Dec. 31 after 30 years in the civil service, the province said.
Finn had worked in program management and public policy development for several provincial departments and as assistant deputy minister for energy (2004-08), then as executive vice-president for planning and development with the New Brunswick System Operator (now part of NB Power).
Finn became deputy minister for energy and mines in 2012 before taking his current posts in April last year.
The province last year published its Economic Growth Plan document which pointed to agriculture as one of the sectors on which to focus economic development efforts “where there is real potential for growth.”
Speaking last year before the federal Senate standing committee on agriculture and forestry, LaRochelle said the province is “well positioned to achieve solid growth in agriculture and agrifood for decades to come.”
However, she said, given the province’s relatively small population, “the sector will need to develop strong export markets in order to sustain this proposed growth.”
New Brunswick’s current agricultural footprint, she said, covers only about five per cent of the province, “and we do feel that we have barely scratched the surface given that a large portion of New Brunswick’s land base is suited for some type of agriculture.” — AGCanada.com Network