Bountiful crops make 2013 a year for the history books

I think Alberta’s producers would disagree with the adage that 13 is an unlucky number as 2013 has been a record-breaker

Verlyn Olson,

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development

I think Alberta’s producers would disagree with the adage that 13 is an unlucky number as 2013 has been a record-breaker for many commodities grown in our province.

Statistics Canada recently released the final crop production estimates and this year is truly a banner year. Total production of principal field crops is up more than 26 per cent from last year and total production of principal field crops is almost 27 million tonnes.

Those crops would fill approximately 300,000 rail cars, making a train that is long enough to stretch from Edmonton to Acapulco, Mexico.

Statistics Canada’s third quarter data was also recently released and it shows that from January to September of this year the total farm cash receipts in Alberta was a record $9.1 billion. That’s up 2.1 per cent from the same time period in 2012. We are leading the nation and this is great news for all.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the lingo, farm cash receipts is the term for the cash income producers receive from the sale of agricultural commodities as well as direct program payments to support the agriculture sector.

We all know how fickle Mother Nature can be and last year many producers were dealing with hail-damaged crops and dashed hopes. The 2012 growing season was a record-breaker with more than 11,000 claims totaling $460 million. This year, Mother Nature was a kinder, gentler soul to our producers.

For Albertans, terrific crops are more than just a picture-taking moment. Once the fields are plucked and the bounty is in the bin, it might be easy to forget how powerful the industry actually is. Many tend to forget that Alberta is not just energy, it’s also agriculture.

For producers, months of work is finally financially rewarded. That cash in hand is often spent in the smaller centers helping rural business owners survive and thrive. Some of those dollars end up in urban malls, restaurants, car dealerships and stores. Either way it’s a win-win for the Alberta economy which hums along with few hiccups thanks to its residents.

To ensure our economy continues to hum along, I am working diligently with my provincial and federal counterparts to ensure that the United States’ mandatory Country of Origin Labeling regulation is repealed. It is unnecessary and expensive for our producers and those costs will ultimately trickle down to consumers.

For those of us who like to eat, and I know there are a few of us around, a great yield ensures that we can continue to indulge in many of the foods we love, and sell them to markets both near and far.

We have much to be thankful for as we head into this busy Christmas season. I wish you all a wonderful holiday and all the best for a safe, healthy and wealthy 2014.

If you have any questions or comments about this column or agriculture and rural development, I would like to hear from you. Please contact my office at (780) 427-2137 or follow me on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/verlynolsonmla) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/VerlynOlsonMLA)