indicatorThe Twenty-Four

Prepare for the worst, hope for the best

Alberta’s primary agricultural sector in 2024

By Rob Roach, ATB Economics 11 June 2024 2 min read

From weather and fertilizer costs to geopolitics and trade agreements, adapting to changing conditions is at the very heart of the agricultural business. Keeping the human population fed is a tricky business!

Take drought. It’s a problem older than agriculture itself and 2024 was shaping up to be a particularly bad year for many Alberta farmers and ranchers.

Even after some much-needed rain, as of June 6, Alberta is still in stage 4 (out of 5) of its water shortage management response plan with 24 water shortage advisories in place for select water management areas across Alberta.

As the map from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada below shows, as of May 31,  there were parts of Alberta under “severe,” “extreme,” and “exceptional” drought conditions.



But, as the Government of Alberta’s Agricultural Moisture Situation Update of June 6 points out, “given recent moisture across the province, and the current trends of near to above normal rainfall patterns, 2024 so far is bringing hope and optimism to our farming communities. With June being the wettest month of the year, this further fuels the hope that we will put the drought of 2023 squarely in the rear-view mirror. All we need now is warmer temperatures, and further timely rains.”

Our fingers are crossed that June does indeed bring the rain Alberta’s farmers and ranchers need to have a good year.

In the meantime, the latest data on crop and cattle prices reinforces two, at least for now, durable trends in the agriculture sector.

First, the average prices Alberta farmers receive for the province’s three largest crops (wheat, barley and canola) remain well below the records set in 2022, but also well above their historical averages. In other words, the prices for Alberta’s major crops are down, but far from out (see the chart below).



Second, as per the chart below, average cattle prices (both for slaughter and feeding) continue to set records.

Relatively strong crop prices and record high cattle prices are not silver bullets for Alberta farmers and ranchers, but they are certainly welcome developments that will help the sector’s overall performance this year.

Answer to the previous trivia question: 1993 was the last time a Canadian team won the Stanley Cup (it was the Montreal Canadiens).

Today’s trivia question: When did the House of Commons designate June as National Indigenous History Month (originally called National Aboriginal History Month)?



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