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Production is up in Alberta’s agricultural sector

Production is up in Alberta’s agricultural sector

Posted on: 4/9/2018 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team

Many Albertans are probably aware that our primary agricultural sector (a.k.a. crop and animal production) has been undergoing some major changes. Stories about the unfortunate fate of many family farms, the use of new technology such as GIS and advances in agricultural science are likely familiar to many.

What might not be as clear is the magnitude of the changes in terms of the sector’s economic output and labour force.

In 1997, there were 88,900 Albertans whose main job was farming or ranching. By 2016, this was down to 50,800–a drop of 43 per cent.

Over this same period, inflation-adjusted primary agricultural output (which does not include manufactured food products such as cuts of beef, French fries or canola oil) increased by 63 per cent. Output per agricultural worker went from $23,164 in 1997 to $65,886–that’s an inflation-adjusted jump of 184 per cent in 20 years.

There are, of course, pros and cons associated with these dramatic shifts. On the positive side of the ledger, Alberta is providing a hungry world with more food than ever and doing so in a highly efficient way. On the negative side, smaller farms often find it hard to compete with larger operations that can take advantage of economies of scale and there are fewer agricultural jobs for those who want to farm for a living.​​

​​Output per Alberta agriculture worker​ ​ ​​​

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