Markets prefer certainty, and COVID-19 injected a substantial amount of uncertainty. The supply chain was disrupted and continues to struggle while governments have poured money into the economy to maintain stability. Inflation has been a byproduct of this supply chain disruption and government largesse. Costs have gone up, wages have escalated and shipping costs increased. Shortages have spurred price hikes and food has not been spared.
The two-year anniversary of COVID-19 is upon us and many aspects of life are still out of sorts. One step forward often results in one, or two, steps backwards, depending on what aspect of life is being evaluated. Farming, though, has always been a touch more socially distanced and isolated than the rest of society, but it’s not immune from the pandemic and its many ripple effects, primarily through the interruption of supply chain logistics.
Recently, I gave a talk about the future of agriculture. The most difficult segment was addressing how our sector balances individuality with its dependence on systems. Systems are now part of every conversation and “systems thinking” is all the buzz.
Co-operation and collaboration are not new in the barley world, whether we’re talking about research and development, working to create and support markets for Canadian barley or dealing with collective market challenges. There are so many issues at play and many moving parts in today’s world of technological complexity, trade issues and regulatory challenges, never mind throwing in a global pandemic.
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.
Canadian agriculture has faced COVID-19 issues within every industry subset. Challenges in southern Alberta’s Feedlot Alley, the province’s central hub for feeder cattle, have piled up since early 2019 and the global pandemic was just the latest hit in a whirlwind stretch.