With Alberta communities continuing to struggle with the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the agriculture industry remains key to the province’s progress going forward.
Whether the farmers and farm communities in this region and elsewhere in the province will receive the support they need to continue filling that vital role into the future remains an open question.
What is known is that in 2020 the industry is helping in no small way to keep Alberta afloat.
According to recently data released by the province, Alberta livestock market sales are projected to reach a new record high of almost $7 billion this year.
As well, this year’s harvest is also on track for a new record high with farmers harvesting more than seven per cent above average.
The food-processing sector is also expected to reach a new record high of almost $15 billion.
Taken together the statistics show beyond doubt that without agriculture’s ongoing success Alberta would be in deep trouble.
“Alberta has a proud history of resilient, innovative farmers, food processors and ranchers who have overcome some of the toughest conditions,” said Alberta Agriculture and Forestry Minister Devin Dreeshen.
“From our world-famous Alberta beef to high-quality hard red spring wheat, Alberta’s agriculture sector is an economic highlight during these tough times. Regardless of the challenges thrown at our farmers and ranchers, they will persevere.”
The province plans to develop a long-term plan to help bolster the agriculture industry, he said, noting that that plan will include “improving market access to leverage the incredible potential for Alberta’s agricultural products.”
Albertans in both urban and rural communities expect the provincial government to do all it can to support the agriculture industry. Planning to bolster the industry going forward is a good step in that direction.
At the same time the government should do nothing that will jeopardize the industry’s ongoing success – such as forcing municipalities into a position where they are compelled to hike taxes on farmers to make up for lost revenue from other sources.
Dan Singleton is an editor with The Albertan.