Posted on Jun 9, 2017

Provincial Farmer's Day

Byline: Erin Babcock, MLA for Stony Plain

Date: June 9, 2017

Our community knows farming is more than a job, it’s a way of life.

We recognize that farming families are an essential pillar of Alberta’s economy, and an important part of our province’s cultural fabric.

This Farmer’s Day, we recognize the very real people who put food on our tables, who contribute greatly to our province’s rural economy and who are our neighbours and friends.

Although Farmer’s Day was last officially celebrated in 1972, many of our farming communities still recognize the importance of acknowledging this vital industry and its contributions to our province and beyond.

Last season and this spring were certainly a bit of a rollercoaster for many of our producers – from dry conditions early on to wet conditions later on. With significantly high unharvested crops remaining in the field, producers faced unprecedented challenges.

We’re finally seeing some progress thanks to some better weather – only eight per cent of the unharvested crops left over winter remain in the province.

And although the farming industry has gone through massive changes over the years, there are some very positive outcomes for our province according to the 2016 Census of Agriculture.

Our province continues to be the heart of Canadian beef country with more than 40 per cent of the national herd; we are also the largest producers and continue to grow.

We also lead the country in bee colony, bison inventories, high value pulse and specialty crops have seen explosive growth.

We will continue to encourage new entrants to agriculture and support those already in the sector, our Agriculture and Forestry ministry will be working with federal and provincial colleagues to reach a new multi-lateral agreement while.

Albertans have put their trust in us to grow and diversify our economy, and growing our agriculture industry is a critical part of that.

We also see that there is much work to be done on succession planning, renewable energy and the adoption of new technologies. We are actively engaged on all of these – including a $10 million investment last fall to help farms and ranches adopt new technology and increase efficiency.

Our government also recognizes the contributions of our local Ag societies; we are committed to supporting them in the important work they do to encourage improvement in agriculture and enhance the quality of life for those in our farming communities.

While our local celebrations of Farmers’ Day have occurred already, there are other events sponsored by Ag societies and 4-H throughout the summer. Tomahawk Agra Society will be celebrating Canada’s 150 on Canada Day as will the Stony Plain & Parkland Pioneer Museum who also hosts an extensive display of agricultural history in the region.

The long-term success of the sector relies on an ongoing commitment to research and innovation, improved market access, environmental stewardship, value-added industry development and food safety. Let’s continue to learn and teach our kids how we can support and contribute to this vital industry.