2019 Ag Expo highlights importance of agriculture sector in southern Alberta

2019 Ag Expo highlights demand for agriculture sector in southern Alberta
WATCH ABOVE: Agriculture is an industry well known in Lethbridge, helping keep southern Alberta's economy strong throughout the years. As Demi Knight reports, it's on full display this week at the 2019 Ag Expo.

With deep roots in agriculture, professionals at the 2019 Ag Expo said Wednesday that southern Alberta often relies on the industry to bring wealth to the community.

But have recent droughts in the province affected profitability?

“The last two years have been very challenging actually. It’s been pretty dry,” said Rudy Nordin, Agro Division manager with South Country Co-Op.

“But the good thing about southern Alberta is a good chunk of it is irrigation and that kind of saves us.

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“But for dry-land farmers? Yeah, they struggled. It hurts the yields, it hurts the retailers as well, because when they’re not getting the prices for their crops, they start cutting.”

READ MORE: Alberta farmers worried as cold weather hurts harvests

It isn’t all bad news though. In fact, the agriculture sector learned of a big development on Tuesday as Federated Co-Operatives Limited (FCL) unveiled its plans to construct a $41.8-million fertilizer terminal near Grassy Lake.

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“Specifically to the crop inputs business, we’ve seen a real growth in terms of the support coming from this marketplace,” said Patrick Bergermann, FCL’s associate vice-president of agriculture and home.

READ MORE: $41.8M fertilizer terminal to be built near Grassy Lake

Meanwhile, at the 2019 Ag Expo, many exhibitors also said there are a lot of exciting industry advancements to be optimistic about in the near future.

“Yes, it’s been dry, but agriculture is steady. It’s one of the industries that just keeps chugging along,” said Lowell Refus, manager of business development with Farm Credit Canada, Lethbridge division.

“Technology and innovation within the agriculture community is also very big. A lot of inventions and the next step towards technology comes through our ag and our farmers.”

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READ MORE: Peter Watts: Is it time to expand Alberta’s agriculture irrigation system?

Some of those technologies are on display at the three-day event, with more than 300 exhibitors showcasing advanced farm equipment, livestock supplies and seeding.

“We always have an incredibly big wait list to get into this show so it just shows you how popular and important it is to the industry in southern Alberta,” said Jackie French, supervisor of events and entertainment with Exhibition Park.

And with seeding just around the corner, industry professionals say the expo also helps farmers get a jump start on their spring operations.

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The Ag Expo will be at the Exhibition Park until Friday.