LETHBRIDGE – ATB’s chief economist has an optimistic outlook for agriculture in Alberta this year.
“I see some pretty good results, maybe even picking up a little bit of economic momentum from where we left off last year,” said ATB’s Todd Hirsch.
He told the Tiffin Conference in Lethbridge that agriculture will continue to be a leader, and that oil and gas will do well.
“But the real boost to the economy will be people coming from other parts of the country,” he said, adding that there were 46 thousand new Albertans last year who boosted retail, housing, food and many other industries.
“Agricultural prices are always up and down a little bit but overall I still see some pretty stable prices, especially on the grain and oilseed side. If we have Mother Nature cooperating in 2014, we could see another very good year for yields.”
The beef and cattle industries should also do well, he said.
“The main challenge for our cattle ranchers is going to be Country of Origin Labelling still with the United States.”
Canada claims Country of Origin Labelling has cut beef and cattle exports in half since it was introduced in 2008. It is urging the U.S. to change it. Other things in the U.S. will also have an impact here.
“I think the U.S. economy will see some of the best growth rates it’s seen in five or six years,” Hirsch said. “That will help lift the Canadian economy.”
The soft Canadian dollar, he added is bad news for vacationers but good news for Alberta’s exporters.