Koch to seek Saskatchewan Party leadership

A long-time Prairie agriculture policy player who last year became Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall’s seniormost bureaucrat has joined the race to replace him.

Alanna Koch, who farms with her husband at Edenwold, Sask., about 40 km northeast of Regina, announced her candidacy Monday for the leadership of the province’s governing Saskatchewan Party.

Koch was the province’s deputy minister of agriculture from 2007 up until July last year, when she replaced Doug Moen as deputy minister to the premier and cabinet secretary.

Wall on Monday announced Koch is taking an unpaid leave of absence from that post and Kent Campbell, deputy minister for intergovernmental affairs, will take over for Koch on an interim basis.

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Koch has been a prominent figure in Prairie ag policy for over 25 years, having served as executive director of the pro-deregulation Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association (1992-2000) and as a board member (2003-07) for Winnipeg grain handler Agricore United before its merger into Viterra.

While at Viterra, Koch also served as president (2005-07) of the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance, a trade group representing stakeholders in export-dependent agrifood sectors.

Koch’s resume in Saskatchewan public policy dates back to Grant Devine’s Progressive Conservative government, in which she served stints as assistant principal secretary to the premier (1990-91) and as chief of staff for various cabinet ministers.

Koch, who was inducted into the Saskatchewan Agriculture Hall of Fame in 2011, also served previously as a director for the George Morris Centre at the University of Guelph and for AVAC Ltd., a not-for-profit investment firm backing agricultural start-ups.

“What sets me apart is the sheer breadth and depth of my experience. I’m a mother. I’m a farmer. I have stood up for farmers and the agriculture industry. I’ve helped open doors so our farmers can sell their beef, wheat and canola all over the world,” Koch said in a release Monday.

Wall, the MLA for Swift Current and premier since 2007, announced Aug. 10 he would step down as premier and party leader after the party chooses a new leader, who would then become premier. The party has scheduled its leadership convention for Jan. 27, 2018 in Saskatoon.

Koch’s release said she would “seek to build on the foundation of the Wall government’s policies.”

Other declared candidates for the party leadership so far include Regina MLA Tina Beaudry-Mellor, Saskatoon MLAs Ken Cheveldayoff and Gord Wyant and Meadow Lake MLA Jeremy Harrison, all of whom have served as ministers in Wall’s cabinet. — AGCanada.com Network

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