Broyce Jacobs Responsible For Some Sensitive Issues

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Broyce Jacobs is the parliamentary assistant to Agriculture Minister Jack Hayden. In that role, he assists the minister in carrying out specific assignments, representing him at events and functions, and performing some duties in the legislature. A parliamentary assistant does not have ministerial responsibilities, nor a specific staff or office.Alberta Farmerrecently met with Jacobs, who is the Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) for the riding of Cardston-Warner-Taber in southern Alberta.

AFCouldyoutellusaboutyourranchingoperationandyourpoliticalcareer?

BJOur family ranches in the Mountain View area where my grandfather homesteaded in 1910. We have a 1,000-head cow-calf yearling operation. We also background our own calves. It’s about 90 per cent black cows now and we maintain a closed herd. One of my sons is involved full time with the ranch, which makes it easier for me to be involved in politics. I started in municipal politics in 1983 and served as reeve of Cardston County. In 2001, I was elected MLA. I sat out 2004 to 2008 and was elected again in March of 2008. The premier appointed me parliamentary assistant to the ag minister in September of 2009.

AFWhataresomeofyouractivitiesasparliamentaryassistanttotheminister?

BJI was given responsibilities for rural gas co-ops, rural electrification associations (REA) and the transboundary water committee. I was also put in charge of the rat-free program in Alberta. I also cover for the minister when he is unable to attend events. He can’t be everywhere.

AFArethereanyspecificissuesyouareinvolvedwiththatconcernthegasco-opsandtheREAs?

BJI act more as a liaison between the gas co-ops and the minister. They are working well at this time and they have carried out their mandate. They still get some funding from the government. Their biggest challenge is sustainability. They are always looking at ways to improve their services. For instance, some of them are now looking at using their infrastructure to deliver high-speed Internet to their rural customers. The REAs are facing bigger challenges. They all had humble beginnings, being set up by rural residents themselves. Rural Alberta is changing and some of the REAs are selling their wires and facilities to larger carriers.

AFTheborderwaterdisputewithMontanahasn’tbeenresolved.Doyouhaveanyupdateonthatsituation?

BJThere is a joint Alberta/Montana committee which have been asked to come up with recommendations to resolve the water issue. A few years ago, Montana appealed to the International Joint Commission that they were not being treated fairly with water access from the St Mary River. The commission went back to the premier and the governor and asked them to come up with a satisfactory resolution. I can’t speak on behalf of the committee but I believe we are okay according to the original treaty. We could use more storage on the Milk River which would help both sides. However the committee is going to have to find a way that we can satisfactorily share the water. I know that the committee is looking at both infrastructure options and water-sharing options as part of their recommendations. The final report from the committee will soon be released.

AFWhatisyourviewonmoreirrigationdevelopmentprojects?

BJWe have to send 50 per cent of the water from the South Saskatchewan River basin to Saskatchewan. We are sending more than we need to. We could develop more storage but I understand environmentalists will have a problem with that. We do need to become more efficient with the water we have. But additional storage reservoirs help everyone, not just irrigators. They are also good for such things as fishing and recreation.

AFYouwerealsoassignedtobeadirectliaisonbetweentheministerandtheAlbertaBeefProducers.Howdoyoufeelyouhavehandledthatsituation,particularlyinlightofthecheckoffissue?

BJI know they were upset with Bill 43 (the act dealing with the refundable checkoff), so the minister asked me to meet with them, talk to them. The minister got them together with the cattle feeders to get the $1 nonrefundable. I don’t know exactly when that will come into effect but, hopefully, soon. We had good co-operation from the two largest groups. The minister wanted industry agreement on that issue. I know not all groups were part of the process. The Stock Growers have sent us letters about the way the issue was dealt with. I believe the tone at the zone meetings is showing that we are getting along better with the Alberta Beef Producers.

AFTherearereportsthatgroupslikethecattlefeedersarenowcanvassingproducerstoredirecttheirrefundedcheckoffdollarstotheirorganization.Isthatgoingtocreateabiggerdivisionwithintheindustry?Whatareyourviewsonthat?

BJPersonally, I think the system that we had before was working reasonably well and I was happy to pay the checkoff. I was satisfied with what the Alberta Beef Producers was doing with my money. Others didn’t share that view and we had Bill 43. But what this all could do is dilute the money that would be available to deal with trade issues, for example. We can’t depend on the government to deal with those issues. We need to do things for ourselves.

———

“PersonallyIthinkthesystemthatwehadbeforewasworkingreasonablywellandIwashappytopaythecheckoff.”

BROYCE JACOBS

PARLIAMENTARY ASSISTANT TO AGRICULTURE MINISTER JACK HAYDEN

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