Today I spoke with officials from International Trade to urge them to work with the Westman Opportunities Leadership Group to attract a soybean crushing plant to Westman. I believe the Federal Government can support the group by providing funds through the Invest Canada-Community Initiatives Program.
Westman would be an ideal location for a soybean crushing plant due to its proximity to major rail lines, highways and the increase in soybean acres. Having this sort of major investment in Westman would be great for our farmers and regional economy. I will work with anyone in Ottawa and across the political divide to make this a reality.
The funding allocated to the Invest-Canada Community Initiatives Program can be used for the purposes of attracting international businesses and establishing operations in the country. The program supports non-profit partnerships at the local community level and the initiatives must focus on supporting the attraction, retention, and expansion of foreign investment.
The concept of attracting a soybean crushing facility to Westman is gathering momentum as municipal leaders, farmers, and Brandon University have all thrown their support behind the group’s efforts. Moreover, the amount of acres sown with soybeans is growing; with over 1.7 million acres it is now the third largest crop after wheat and canola.
The evidence to support the feasibility of such a plant was also released back in March 2015 in a report commissioned by the Government of Canada and the Province of Manitoba. The report looked at such issues as supply, demand, market conditions and location. The report concluded that a plant could be sustainable and generate freight savings and increase profits for farmers. As well, livestock producers would benefit by having a local protein feed supply at competitive prices.
It is time to stop exporting all of our soybeans and seeing the value-added processing dollars go along with it. This plant will create jobs and keep dollars in our local company. It truly is a win-win scenario for Westman and Manitoba.
I will continue to support the efforts of the Westman Opportunities Leadership Group and do all that I can to ensure the federal government is a meaningful partner. It is vital that we work with stakeholders from across the industry to make this plant a reality. We do not want to miss out on this economic opportunity for the people of Westman.