Farm Credit Canada shares outlook for 2015

As Clem Samson looks forward, he sees a lot of reasons to be optimistic.

Samson, Vice President of Western Operations at Farm Credit Canada (FCC), attended AFA’s Annual General Meeting in January 2015 and shared what his organization sees as key global and domestic economic trends poised to impact agriculture in the next five to 10 years.

“One of the big things we see is an increasing prosperity in the middle class, especially for people in under-developed countries,” Samson says. “Studies show that when people begin to make more money, the extra income goes into buying more high-quality food and proteins. That’s good news for agricultural producers.”

Samson says FCC is keeping an eye on several global and domestic trends that will impact Canadian agriculture. Here’s an overview of what he sees.

Global Economic Trends

  • it is expected that about 60% more food will be required to feed the world by 2050
  • it’s estimated that between 2013 and 2020, the global middle class will double from 2 billion to 4 billion people
  • increasing prosperity in the middle class in Asia will see diets starting to mirror diets in the West
  • a November 2014 Conference Board of Canada World Ranking Food Safety Performance report indicated that Canada is #1 in global food safety performance
  • the U.S. continues to be our largest trading partner, and represents 52% of our agriculture and agri-food exports, about $28 billion of agricultural goods ($9.2 billion primary, $18.9 billion food manufacturing)
  • China has become Canada’s second-largest agricultural market
  • pork is a significant need for China, and it’s expected that China will import over 400 million metric tons over the next 10 years
  • once the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) is implemented, 95% of European Union and Canadian agricultural tariffs will be eliminated
  • by 2028, according to the United Nations, India is projected to overtake China in terms of population, surpassing 1.45 billion people. India is already a strong importer of Canadian pea, lentil and chickpea crops

Domestic Economic Trends

  • appreciation of farmland values will continue, but could slow a little
  • farm wages have increased an average of more than 3% per year over the last 10 years
  • by 2020, it’s estimated that Canada will have more than 2 million new immigrants, representing about $27 billion in additional food purchased in Canada over the next five years
  • the millennial generation (born 1980 – 2000) is having a growing impact on food and how it is produced
  • value-added food products will present new opportunities for Canadian producers

To Samson, all these opportunities and signs of continued growth mean a bright future for agriculture. He encouraged the participants at AFA’s AGM – and all western producers – to do a good job of sharing what they do.

“We have so much to be proud of,” he says. “But, we need to get out there and tell our story. Let’s share what a great industry agriculture is.”

Farm Credit Canada provides financing and other services to more than 100,000 primary producers, value-added operators, suppliers and processors along the agriculture value chain. For more information on Farm Credit Canada, visit the FCC website: https://www.fcc-fac.ca/en.html.

New water project welcome news for farmers

It’s no secret that water-related events can have a devastating impact on agriculture. Whether it’s a catastrophic flood, wet fields at seeding time or extended drought, farmers are often faced with either too much water or not nearly enough.

What’s more, science lacks a solid understanding of why these events occur. For Camrose-area farmer Humphrey Banack, it’s hard to pick an issue of more direct importance to farmers.

“With recent disastrous water events in Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario, we all know how devastating flooding can be,” says Banack. “Although the attention sometimes centers on the impacts to urban properties, water-related events can be a major risk for primary agriculture, too.”

As a farmer managing 5,000 acres, Banack has had his share of battles with insufficient or excess moisture. He recalls the wet spring of April 2011 in the Camrose area as one of the worst.

Now, as 2nd Vice President with the Alberta Federation of Agriculture (AFA), Banack is involved in a new, large-scale effort to remove some of the mystery surrounding water events in rural Alberta.

On March 17, 2015, Member of Parliament for Wetaskiwin Blaine Calkins, on behalf of Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, announced $1.3 million in federal support for AFA to develop a unique computer model that will better identify the risk and impacts of overland flooding and drought in agricultural areas. Federal funding is being provided through the AgriRisk Initiatives program.

The project’s focus will be to construct and showcase a suite of complex hydrologic models to assess interactive water movement throughout the South Saskatchewan River Basin. Under each water‐related risk assessment, the model will build maps that define risk zones within the study area. The model will then quantify the frequency, geographical extent and severity of water-related events.

To execute the project, AFA will team up with private consultants experienced in agriculture risk and with world-renowned hydrologic and climate change scientists to generate the computer simulation model. The three-year project will begin April 1, 2015 and continue through March 31, 2018.

Banack notes that this project fits perfectly with AFA’s mandate. As Alberta’s largest producer-funded general farm organization, AFA supports a sustainable agriculture industry with viable farm incomes. The data collected under this project could contribute to better flood risk analysis and eventually lead to the development of overland flooding insurance products. Spearheading effective farm risk management tools for farmers is a key priority area for AFA.

“Many people don’t know that Canada is the only G8 country where overland flooding is not an insurable risk,” Banack says. “The federal funding provided to AFA will allow us to begin immediately in addressing the important area of water and risk assessment in agriculture, potentially paving the way for practical insurance solutions for producers.”

March 15-21 is Canadian Agricultural Safety Week

Farm businesses are a complex combination of highly specialized and technical equipment. Growth in a farm business can also increase the number of people who are involved in that business.

Tragically, in a few cases, all this can add up to fatalities and injuries. In Canada, too many people die in farming accidents each year. Many of those incidents are preventable.

Humphrey Banack, Alberta Federation of Agriculture (AFA) 2nd Vice President, says agriculture has been identified as a ‘high risk’ industry, and even one death or serious injury is too many.

“We’re an industry that operates in our own backyard,” says Banack, whose family farms 5,000 acres near Camrose. “Safety on farms is critical. I know neighbors who have been injured, and even killed, on farms. We have to look at safety and plan to be safe.”

Banack and his wife, Terry, feel passionate about farm safety. In 2014, they joined nine other Alberta farmers to volunteer-test a pilot safety program being developed by Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development (ARD). The pilot encouraged farmers to document their farm safety practices as a way of managing safety risk on the farm.

Banack says because there are a lot of moving parts with a farm business, it can sometimes be a challenge to teach someone new about the wide variety of safety protocols on a farm. That’s why the Banacks have created a written farm safety plan, and encourage other producers to do the same.

“It’s not something you do once and it’s done,” he says. “A good on-farm safety plan is constantly being updated as the farm business grows and evolves.”

Banack says the AFA Board will continue to push for progress in the area of farm safety. AFA is actively involved in initiatives like those being brought forward by ARD to improve our province’s farm safety record.

Banack also recommends that producers check out the information available through Canadian Agricultural Safety Week which occurs March 15 through 21, 2015. This annual public education campaign focuses on the importance of safety in agriculture and provides producers with resources and information to make their farms safer.

More information on Canadian Agricultural Safety Week can be found at www.agsafetyweek.ca. For videos featuring the Banacks speaking about farm safety, visit the Alberta Federation of Agriculture YouTube Channel and click on the videos in the ‘AFA In The News’ playlist.