Gerry Ritz was first elected as an MP in 1997. He is passionate about agriculture, having grown up on his family’s farm near Rosetown, Saskatchewan. He served as the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board for eight years under Prime Minister Stephen Harper. He is now the Official Opposition Critic for International Trade.
Ritz led more than 30 trade missions as Minister of Agriculture and AgriFood, working to open international markets to Canadian farmers and food processors. He has received awards from the beef and pork industries for this work.
As Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board Ritz passed Bill C-18, the Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act, ending the single desk marketing. He also helped pass Bill S11, the Safe Food for Canadians Act, which paved the way for better inspection and food safety rules.
During this time Ritz also partnered with the provinces and territories to create the Growing Forward program. The $3 billion, five-year program created initiatives for market development, innovation and competition in the agriculture and food industries.
Before being named to the agriculture file, Ritz had served as Secretary of State for Small Business and Tourism.
Ritz and his wife still operate their family farm and also owned and operated their own general contracting business. They also operated a weekly newspaper.
Ritz and his wife, Judy, have two grown children and three grandchildren.