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Alberta positioned to see surge in agriculture

(Stock photo: Pexels.com)

With the decline in oil prices and all the associated job losses, Albertans are looking for something to help fill that gap.

The answer may be as simple as getting back to the provinces roots, in some cases, literally.

Agriculture.

Many wonder if the conditions are right to see agriculture see a resurgence, while others would argue it’s already here.

Robert Saik, founder of Agri-Trends, says farmers haven’t left, it’s just now that oil and gas is hurting people are talking about them again.

“A lot of people just don’t pay attention to us, but really behind oil and gas, agriculture is the second largest GDP generator,” he said.

Lynn Jacobson, president of the Alberta Federation of Agriculture, points out farming is still a money maker, and there are lots of jobs available.

“Prices have been pretty descent for crops over the past couple years, so people have been making investments,” he said.

Stan Blade, Dean of the Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences at the University of Alberta, says the industry has seen some real growth in the last five years.

“The last data that we had from 2014 shows farm gate sales were about $14 billion, food processing sales in the province of Alberta at $14 billion so you know, we’re edging towards $30 billion in sales from these industries,” he said.

He adds we have great people, a great environment and a great focus on the argi-food industry.

Longtime farmer Matt Sawyer, who specializes in grains, oilseeds and cattle, says this a real opportunity to grow Calgary’s Agricultural Infrastructure.

“If you look at Calgary and the position it’s in, close to the mountains and the main rail lines that head to Vancouver, there’s certainly lots of opportunities,” he explained.

Sawyer admits agriculture will likely never overtake oil and gas, but he believes a growing farming sector can help with badly needed economic diversification.

Tune into 660 NEWS every morning this long weekend as we explore questions around the education and the growth of the sector, the role of new innovations and climate change and whether agriculture can fill the gap left by oil and gas.