Alberta's newest Agriculture Minister says without farms, there's no food.

Highwood MLA RJ Sigurdson says, in a year-end statement released Friday, remember all that food you had during the holidays was provided by farmers and ranchers.

"Our agriculture industry works year-round to put food on tables around the world. Their dedication and hard work produce the safe, high-quality food that we enjoy. Whether it’s heading to the barn at 3 a.m. during calving season or driving the combine for weeks on end during harvest, Alberta’s farmers and ranchers work tirelessly to feed our communities.

"Beyond our primary agriculture producers, there are the thousands of folks working in the value-added agri-food sector to process ready-to-eat products, and there’s the labour that goes in to packaging and transporting your food. 

"Showing our appreciation for Alberta’s farmers and ranchers is more than just saying thank you. It’s shopping locally, buying made-in-Alberta products and supporting our local agricultural societies and youth organizations such as 4-H. Most importantly, it’s about making an effort to better understand how our food made it from the farm to your plate."

Sigurdson says a dry year for producers in Alberta, added to previous droughts, has been a cause for concern.

"I always say our farmers and ranchers are very resilient and they've overcome challenges in the past and I know many that I talk to are very excited about working hand-in-hand with the government to strengthen agriculture in the province and we look forward to next year as always."

Alberta put $933 million towards irrigation rehabilitation to help out producers.

Being able to help out those farmers with government programs has been a high point for Sigurdson.

"Some of the highlights for me, those here really revolve around some of the great work that has happened with the government expanding our feeder association loan guarantee from $2 million to $3 million and making available contracts increased from $4 million to $6 million. Definitely a program that's been in play in the province of Alberta for decades and it continues to support our small ranchers across the province."

Agrifood processing is also a plus for Sigurdson as that industry is expanding in Alberta.

A major factor for Alberta's farms over 2023 has been the federal carbon tax.

"I've been a huge advocate in pushing towards our federal government to exempt the carbon tax from farming operations because we know this drives down the cost of our food right into the grocery stores and when we talk about food affordability," said Sigurdson, "It's something front and centre with everyday families right now in Alberta."