There were no surprises – or at least no signs of significant cutbacks – for the Agriculture Department in the 2009-10 Alberta government budget. However that may change depending on this year’s revenues.
The biggest expenditures will be in insurance and income support programs which are budgeted at $820 million. A new feature in the insurance lineup will be the Cattle Price Insurance Program. Another $137 million has also been allocated to AgriStability as the provincial contribution to the federal program.
Asked in an interview how his expenditures fared in the overall government budget, Agriculture Minister Groeneveld said, “We were pretty well flat-lined, we didn’t get any cutbacks. There was a reason for that. We made some big shifts last year and had
“We can manage with what we received.”
some savings and I think that was recognized.”
The department has had something of an overhaul over the past year which has seen reductions in personnel and operating expenses.
“We can manage with what we received. We have shifted people and money around to establish the ALMA so we have seen increases in some areas,” Groeneveld said. “We were also able to make some adjustment to the reinsurance program to deal with the high cost of last year’s hailstorms.”
The minister said he was pleased that insurance programs were being fully maintained and expanded. This is of particular concern as the AFRP II program ran out of money last year.
“We are fairly comfortable that we have enough money for the new Cattle Insurance program. However if we have two market wrecks in a row we may have to find more money.”
The Agriculture Department will not be immune to changes in government revenues. “We will be prepared to make any changes, it all depends on how the economy will go,” Groeneveld said.