By Trevor Busch
On the federal agricultural front, the Taber region has been shortlisted as a potential area for investment through a protein supercluster.
“The federal government is looking at federal ag policy, and overarching policy, which means they’re looking at doing something differently,” said Bow River MP Martin Shields, speaking during a roundtable discussion with constituents at the Taber Legion Hall on Oct. 13. “The sugar plant over here is an example of fractionalization, because they take those big, large sugar beets, put it through a process, end up with a chemical, and the basic chemical elements that then coalesces and becomes sugar. We don’t put sugar beets in box cars and ship them to China or anywhere else. We ship that refined chemical product, sugar.”
Promoting the potential implementation of further fractionalization processes in the area, the Taber region’s protein supercluster is one of nine that has been shortlisted, according to Shields.
“So there’s a proposal that’s made the list of nine as far as the supercluster funding we’re talking about, and it’s talking about fractionalization. The basic concept of this is don’t put canola in a grain car and ship it whole. Don’t put wheat in a car and ship it whole. You do like you do with the sugar beets — you break it down to the chemical components. It’s a much smaller piece, and yet it’s very valuable because it has a higher value to the end user, and that’s really what they want — just like sugar is a refined product. So you take your product, you fractionalize it down to its chemical components, put it in a much smaller package and sell it for a higher value. That has been worked on by a conglomerate of ag industries on the Prairies.”
Should the area be selected for investment, this could mean millions in federal funding could be coming the region’s way in 2018.
“They have determined to talk about cluster funding for specific industries. The ag industry in Alberta and Western Canada has developed a project for $150 – $200 million that the government is talking about funding. They’ve shortlisted that to nine (early October), and that process was in it. There’s now two more ag projects in it, and they are now talking to each other and saying can we now get together and save two or three from being thrown out, work together to see if there’s a combination, so we all get a piece of this money.”
The project finalists are expected to be announced in March 2018.