Two acres of James Molnar’s 800-acre family farm near Barnwell cause him continuous headaches. Just a short distance from his house, these troublesome acres contain an old oil well site. Its lingering traces of asphalt and oil prevent Molnar from planting the lot with high-value Taber corn or the tomatoes, pumpkins and other market vegetables he farms. Doing so would violate the exacting standards of the grocery stores he supplies.
Like the ale versus lager taste debate, the decision to grow malt or feed barley has strong proponents on both sides. As barley farmers ponder their crop options for the coming year, the choice has been complicated by an unusual development: “intent to grow” contracts for malting barley priced below that of feed barley. This erosion of the price premium for malting barley may have implications for maltsters and farmers.
Proposed changes to the provincial tax assessment rate have been shelved after municipalities and other stakeholders voiced concerns about revenue loss and the impact on budgets and services. The planned overhaul to the provincial assessment model could have potentially resulted in an increased financial burden for farmers who are both landowners and business operators.
Whether it is an Amazon package arriving at the door, a hotel deal found through Expedia or a ride right now in an Uber, people increasingly prefer a culture made possible by apps and finger taps. It was perhaps inevitable that aspects of agriculture would also become a prime target for disruption.
With the initial projects recently announced, the first agriculture industry-related elements of the Alberta Recovery Plan are now up and running. From investment in irrigation infrastructure, to the opening of new international export offices, to new post-secondary research funding, the initiatives are intended to position agriculture and forestry as a part of the solution to Alberta’s economic woes.