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Agriculture plays a major role in southern Alberta

Posted on July 16, 2013 by Taber Times

Southern Alberta is blessed with a very diverse economy. The oil and gas industry, manufacturing, retail and the tourism and hospitality industry all blend together to help this part of the province continue as a key economic driver for Western Canada. But a quick drive outside the city, and locals are surrounded by farm land. Agricultural producers in the area grow valuable cash crops like potatoes and sugar beets, along with iconic Taber corn, canola, beats, cereals and a host of other crops.

With that in mind, agriculture plays a major role here in southern Alberta. There are the self-employed family farms and bigger corporate entities, that provide jobs for farm labourers and the like, but that is only the beginning of the industry’s impact.

From farm-equipment dealers to food-processing facilities, irrigation districts, cattle operations and everything in between, southern Alberta was built partly on the agricultural way of life. So when major storms rip through the area, such as the hail and wind which pounded the region on the weekend and again on Monday, very serious issues can rise to the surface.

Farmers have contracts to fulfill, processing plants need product to work with and workers who rely on steady employment throughout the summer and into harvest need hours to help put food on their tables.

Unfortunately, Mother Nature holds all the cards each year as to the fate of our agricultural industry. We have done our best to take advantage of the warm southern Alberta climate and abundant sunshine, and decreased the risk through irrigation but ultimately, when the great white combine sweeps through the region, the best-laid plans can quickly crumble.

There do not appear to be many commodities, if any, that escaped the recent storms unscathed, including the iconic Taber corn crops, which locals have come to crave early August every year. The irony, of course, is the fact most crops were off to an above-average start, including Taber corn, as one of the area’s largest growers, David Jensen, reported crops among the best he had ever witnessed in the last 10 years.

Southern Alberta crops do have time to recover, and with some co-operation from Mother Nature, which has been hard to come by this season, except for nearly-optimal conditions in May, fields will recover enough to pull off a harvest which will be measured with some success, at least under the circumstances.

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