There was not a lot of farm machinery out in fields this week, but this producer was working just south of Red Deer. Farmers are looking for some heat and wind to mature and dry out crops and allow harvesting to get going in force. Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff

There was not a lot of farm machinery out in fields this week, but this producer was working just south of Red Deer. Farmers are looking for some heat and wind to mature and dry out crops and allow harvesting to get going in force. Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff

Alberta’s prosperity not all about the oil: Red Deer County mayor

Mayor Jim Wood says there is a lot of opportunity to grow Alberta’s Number 2 industry

While the oilpatch is Alberta’s trademark, a big part of the province’s future prosperity lies on its family farms, says Red Deer County’s mayor.

“Agriculture has one of the best and brightest futures we have,” said Jim Wood, who farms and raises cattle near Delburne.

Low oil and natural gas prices, combined with market access challenges, have taken a lot of steam out of Alberta’s money-maker industry over the past few years.

But agriculture is the No. 2 industry and Wood sees plenty of room for growth with the right encouragement.

“I think one of the key things we want to make sure we keep successful is the family farm,” said Wood on Tuesday.

Many communities revolve around the nearby family farms, and it is important that there is a smooth transition from today’s producers to a new generation of farmers, he said.

Part of that involves ensuring financing is available for those taking over farms and that the transfer of property to the next generation is not hampered by tax policies.

Wood would like to see more investment in the industry to allow a bigger share of farmers’ production to be processed and turned into value-added goods.

“It’s sad that we send a lot of our products away to foreign countries to be further processed. It would make more sense to process those products here.

“Especially at a time when shipping is so expensive, I think that is one way we could really help.”

Canola is one example. While there are canola crushers in Camrose and Fort Saskatchewan, among other places, much of it is exported elsewhere to be processed.

“Why are we shipping raw canola to China, when it all could stay here?” he said.

Another benefit of keeping production closer to farmers is it reduces the financial impact of trade disputes because there is always a market for finished products.

Processing at home also saves on transportation costs and creates jobs, he said.

“There’s no reason we can’t have more manufacturing in this province, especially manufacturing of agricultural goods.”

A lot of the equipment used today was dreamed up by farmers tinkering in their shops during the winter months, looking to build the better mouse trap, said Wood.

That’s one of the reasons the county has a place for home-based businesses in its land use regulations, he said. What starts out in a garage could one day grow into a shop and a steady employer.

Many farmers would also benefit from having better access to agricultural expertise, he said.

There was a time when farming communities could count on local agriculturists based out of district offices for advice. Over the decades, those largely disappeared, and a farmer’s only contact with a crop specialist or other expert is often by phone.

“We’ve lost a lot of help that we once had, as far as knowledge goes.

“Farming is a business that has very low (profit) margins. And sometimes, you just need that little bit of expertise.”



pcowley@reddeeradvocate.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

(Advocate file photo)
Man charged following police chases last summer is sentenced

Alexander Michael Talbot sentenced to 22 months in prison

COVID-19 test kit. (Black Press Media file photo)
Red Deer businesses can order COVID testing kits from the Chamber

Kits are being provided through a partnership with the Alberta government

(Advocate file photo)
Pastor, candidate under restraining order arrested for allegedly breaking COVID laws

CALGARY — A Calgary mayoral candidate who is under a restraining order… Continue reading

Pro-Palestinian protesters run from police following a demonstration in Montreal, Sunday, May 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Tensions flare at Israel-Palestinian demonstrations in Montreal, Toronto

Tensions ran high at competing demonstrations over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in both… Continue reading

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, then-vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, participates in a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. An expert in military affairs says the sudden departure of the  general in charge of Canada's vaccine rollout is unlikely to have any impact on the high-profile program. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Canada to get 4.5M vaccine doses as questions swirl around immunization effort

OTTAWA — Canada is set to receive a large infusion of COVID-19… Continue reading

Mayor Rick Bonnett. (Screenshot)
WATCH: Ponoka council calls on gov’t to support rural small businesses

Ponoka council is calling on the provincial government to increase funding to… Continue reading

The Red Deer Rebels have acquired goaltender Connor Ungar from the Brandon Wheat Kings, the team announced Monday. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Red Deer Rebels acquire goaltender Connor Ungar, forward Liam Keeler in separate trades

The Red Deer Rebels have acquired goaltender Connor Ungar from the Brandon… Continue reading

A woman attends a vigil in front of the hospital where Joyce Echaquan died in Joliette, Que., on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Hospital staff testify today at Quebec coroner’s inquiry into death of Joyce Echaquan

TROIS-RIVIÈRES, Que. — Medical staff from a Quebec hospital where Joyce Echaquan… Continue reading

Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa on February 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Ottawa looking for 2,000 new energy auditors to get home retrofit program going

OTTAWA — The federal government is looking to train 2,000 more people… Continue reading

A person waits outside a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Sunday, May 9, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Ontario opens shots to 18+, Quebec opens drive-thru, as COVID vaccine efforts expand

Quebec is opening a drive-thru vaccine clinic at its busiest airport and… Continue reading

Calgary Flames players celebrate the team's overtime win against the Vancouver Canucks during an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, May 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Lindholm OT winner gives Flames 6-5 win over Canucks despite blowing four-goal lead

VANCOUVER — In a game with little to play for besides pride,… Continue reading

In this photo taken on May 13, 2021, Russia's performer, Manizha, smiles during an interview after rehearsing at the Eurovision Song Contest at Ahoy arena in Rotterdam, Netherlands. For many, the stage and global television audience of millions is a chance to express messages of inclusion, strength and positivity. Manizha has a message of strength for women in her song whose lyrics include the lines: "Every Russian Woman. Needs to know. You're strong enough to bounce against the wall." (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
Eurovision Song Contest returns despite coronavirus pandemic

ROTTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) — Pounding beats? Check. Uplifting lyrics? Check. Huge, backlit… Continue reading

Serena Williams of the United States returns the ball to Italy's Lisa Pigato during their match at the Emilia Romagna Open tennis tournament, in Parma, Monday, May 17, 2021. Serena Williams earned her first victory in more than three months by beating 17-year-old qualifier Lisa Pigato 6-3, 6-2 in the first round of the Emilia-Romagna Open. Williams accepted a wild-card invitation for the Parma tournament after losing her opening match at the Italian Open last week. (AP Photo/Marco Vasini)
Serena Williams posts 1st victory in more than 3 months

PARMA, Italy (AP) — Serena Williams earned her first victory in more… Continue reading

In this Oct. 21, 2014 file photo, people pass an AT&T store in New York's Times Square. AT&T will combine its media operations that include CNN HBO, TNT and TBS in a $43 billion deal with Discovery, the owner of lifestyle networks including the Food Network and HGTV. The deal announced Monday, May 17, 2021, would create a separate media company as households increasingly abandon cable and satellite TV, looking instead at Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Facebook, TikTok and YouTube. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
AT&T, Discovery join media brands as cord-cutting encroaches

NEW YORK (AP) — AT&T will combine its massive media operations that… Continue reading

Most Read