Agriculture in Alberta
Alberta has one of the world’s most productive agricultural economies, and it is Canada’s 2nd largest agricultural producer, earning 22% of Canada’s farm cash receipts. There are over 70,000 farmers in Alberta. The diversity of landscapes within Alberta allows for the wide variety of products over its 21 million hectares of agricultural land base, accounting for 31.3% of the total farm area in Canada. The agricultural sector is diverse and includes crop production, livestock production and many others. Farming and ranching helped build the economy and attracted early immigrants to Alberta.
Crops in Alberta
In 2008, agriculture accounted for around 1.8% of Alberta’s GDP. Total production of major crops was estimated to be 19.1 million ton in 2008 (Statistics Canada) or around 5,500 kg per person per year. Wheat remains the largest crop, with production estimated at around 9 million tones, followed by barley and canola in 2009. Wheat, barley and canola together accounted for over three fourths of the total crop production. The province’s annual crop production (2000 to 2009) is shown in the diagram.
To view the spatial distribution of these three crops, click the links below:
- Spatial distribution of wheat in Alberta
- Spatial distribution of barley in Alberta
- Spatial distribution of canola in Alberta
Livestock in Alberta
Alberta leads Canada in cattle and calf, with 5.9 million head as of 2006, or 40% of the Canadian total. Beef cattle production is Alberta’s largest agricultural sector providing $2.9 billion in farm cash receipts annually or 34% of Alberta farm production income. Of Alberta’s estimated 2009 beef production, 16% is sold within the province, 45% to other provinces, 31% to the US and 8% to other countries. Beef is Alberta’s number one agri-food export. Annual exports of Alberta beef and cattle are valued at approximately $1.4 billion in 2009. For other livestock, Alberta has 14% of Canada’s total hog receipts. In 2004, provincial support totaling $6.6 million was made available to sheep, goat, deer, elk, reindeer and bison producers to help maintain their heads.
For more on agriculture see Agriculture & Irrigation in Alberta