The dissolution of the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency in last month’s provincial budget may be a step backward for Alberta’s agri-food processing industry.
“I know ALMA was able to move fairly quickly in terms of responding to both opportunities and concerns and really apply resources in a very forthright fashion because of the way it was structured,” said Jerry Bouma, of Toma & Bouma Management Consultants.
In 2014-15, ALMA put $9.5 million into 76 projects related to agri-food processing, including ones for automation, efficiency, and product and market development.
And while those monies may still be in the budget, an arm’s-length agency like ALMA is still needed to manage those investments, said Joe Makowecki, the founding chairman of the agency.
“It’s disappointing that they’ve decided to dissolve ALMA,” said Makowecki, president of Heritage Frozen Foods. “I think there’s very little money they’re going to save. The number is around $3 million, and that’s a very small number when you look at the economic benefit ALMA was providing.
“I wouldn’t have got involved if I didn’t think there was a need for that.”
Makowecki would like to see the provincial government reconsider its decision to bring ALMA in-house.
“Governments do make mistakes from time to time, but you can always reverse those decisions.”