Agriculture at the heart of Alberta's economic recovery

Record crop yields and strengthened cattle prices are leading Alberta’s economic recovery after a difficult start to 2020 due to COVID-19 and low energy prices.
calendar icon 29 September 2020
clock icon 3 minute read

Harvest progress is estimated to hit a new record high in Alberta with farmers harvesting more than seven percent above what is normal.

Livestock market sales are estimated to also reach a new record high of $6.9 billion.

The food processing sector in the province is also expected to hit a new record with products totalling $14.8 billion.

“Alberta has a proud history of resilient, innovative farmers, food processors and ranchers who have overcome some of the toughest conditions. 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. They are well-positioned to compete internationally and to feed the world. Regardless of the challenges thrown at our farmers and ranchers, they will persevere,” said Devin Dreeshen, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry.

“We continue to see stable cattle markets following the disruption earlier this year due to COVID-19, and hope to see prices hold steady through the fall. Alberta’s processing sector continues to see consistent flow of production and strong capacity, due in large part to the hard-working plant employees. This pandemic has reminded us that Alberta’s beef industry never fails to demonstrate strength and resilience through challenging times,” said Kelly Smith-Fraser, chair, Alberta Beef Producers.

Alberta producers are global leaders in sustainable practices. Thanks to a thriving agriculture industry, Alberta agriculture is well-positioned to be a major contributor to post-COVID-19 economic recovery and growth.

Agriculture and Forestry is developing a visionary long-term plan that will bolster Alberta’s agriculture sector by:

  • Implementing aggressive investment attraction initiatives to enhance value-added food processing that is expected to generate more than $1.4 billion in new investment and create thousands of new jobs. This will be achieved through intensive investment attraction activity – supporting our existing agri-businesses in expanding and attracting new investment to Alberta – while working in alignment with Alberta’s Investment and Growth Strategy.
  • Improving market access to leverage the incredible potential for Alberta’s agricultural products to meet the appetite of the growing world population.
  • Increasing export opportunities so processors can access key global markets and setting ambitious growth targets in primary agriculture exports and the value-added food processing sector.
  • Expanding agriculture’s international presence by positioning agriculture-specific staff in four key international offices in addition to those already in Tokyo, Seoul, Beijing and New Delhi.
  • Expanding irrigation infrastructure to create new jobs now and in the long term, and significantly increase primary production.

In certain northern parts of the province, cool, wet weather caused seeding delays and affected crop development, where farmers struggled with excess moisture. Those areas have an expected yield below the five-year average.

Despite a rough spring for livestock producers, prices and the province’s food processing capacity have rebounded and have shown that it is a secure, resilient and safe supply chain.

Quick facts

  • Alberta accounts for more than 21 percent of all Canadian goods exported internationally.
  • Alberta’s agri-food sector is an important part of the Alberta economy, contributing $9.2 billion in gross domestic product (GDP) and employing more than 77,000 Albertans.
  • With sales of $15.8 billion in 2019, food and beverage manufacturing was the second largest manufacturing industry in Alberta (20.8 percent of provincial manufacturing sales) after petroleum and coal product manufacturing. It is the largest manufacturing employer in the province, employing 28,000 Albertans.
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