Alberta’s farming industry is one of the most productive agricultural economies in the world. With record-breaking and expanding production, and growing demand in exports, it is a driving force when it comes to the economy of both Alberta and Canada as a whole.
Alberta farms produce a variety of agricultural products, including wheat, oats, barley, dry peas, canola, potatoes, vegetables, floriculture (including nursery and sod), cattle and calves, hogs, lambs, dairy products, honey, poultry, hatcheries and eggs.
According to Alberta’s Census data, Alberta had 43,234 census farms as of 2011. Beef cattle farms accounted for the highest percentage (27.8%) of Alberta’s farms with 12,022 in the province. Other animal production farms accounted for 18.2%, with 7,881 in Alberta; 10,609 grain and oilseed farms (excluding wheat farms) accounted for 24.5%. Wheat farms, at 2,083, accounted for 4.8% and other field crop farms accounted for 19% with 8,227. A small percentage of farms fell under another “other” category.
Major producers of GDP and FCR
The average farm size as of 2011 in Alberta was 1,168 acres, and by 2014, Alberta’s total farm area had reached 50.5 million acres (20.4 million hectares). Its real gross domestic product (GDP) for its agri-food industries increased as well, reaching its second highest total on record at $6.3 billion. Alberta’s total farm cash receipts (FCR), the sum of crop and livestock market receipts plus the amount of direct program payments to producers, also reached a record $12.9 billion in 2014, marking a 9.1% increase from the previous year. Alberta also posted the highest cattle and calf market receipts in 2014 ($4.8 billion), as well as the third highest total crop receipts in the country, accounting for 22.4% of Canada’s total FCR.
The value-added agricultural products sector, its processed food and beverage industry, is Alberta’s top manufacturing industry (on a revenue basis). In 2015, sales reached a new record of $14.6 billion, and this followed on top of 2014’s record $9.7 billion in export of primary and processed agricultural and food products (agri-food) from Alberta farms.
Alberta’s farms play an enormous role in the economy of both Alberta and Canada as a whole
Amounting to billions of dollars in sales each year, and billions of dollars in GDP, the farming industry is Alberta’s top manufacturing industry, and its continued growth is a major contributor to Alberta’s economy.
Along with those profits, however, farms also generate a significant amount of expenses.
Farms pay millions of dollars in operating expenses each year, and gas, energy, and electricity are significant contributors to those expenses. Fortunately, there are options available to farmers, allowing them to compare cheap gas, electricity, and energy rates so they can find the best possible solutions and lower expenses for their farms.
How farmers can save on energy costs
Alberta’s farming industry is one of the most productive agricultural industries in the world. Producing billions of dollars in sales each year, and billions of dollars in GDP, farming represents a significant part of Alberta’s economic growth and stability, and its continued expansion earmarks it as a leading contributor to Canada’s economy at large.
In order to make such significant contributions to Alberta’s economy, however, farms must pay millions of dollars in operating expenses each year, and as their expenses increase, they also face challenges when it comes to maintaining profit margins. Fortunately, there are options available for farmers who need to mitigate costs by finding cheap gas, electricity, and energy rates for their agricultural-based businesses.
Farm operating expenses
Farms face a number of operating expenses, from property taxes to machinery costs and repairs, from commercial feed to the cost of livestock and poultry purchases, not to mention the cost of fertilizers, lime and pesticides. While those costs can add up on their own, farms are also faced with high gas, electricity, and other energy costs. In 2014, heating fuel cost Alberta’s farms $79.7 million—and those costs were up 21.8% from the year before. In addition to those heating costs, electricity costs for Alberta’s farms amounted to $259.3 million, and machinery fuel costs added up to $720 million—a 6.5% increase from 2013.
Combating rate increases is an important means of securing profits, which is an important means of ensuring that farming remains productive on Alberta’s economic front. Finding cheap energy rates for farms, including gas rates and electricity rates, is an important step in that direction.
How to find cheap energy rates for farms
If you run a farm, the most important step in finding cheap energy rates is determining your consumption, and how consistent your needs are. Once you know how much energy, electricity, or gas your farm consumes, you can determine which energy rate will be the most efficient for your farm.
Providers like SpotPower offer variable or fixed energy rates for gas or electricity, and some, like ATCOenergy, offer block pricing plans for a blend between price protection and market rates. Many provide service for both gas and electricity, and some, like Just Energy, even offer green energy alternatives that can help you save on your energy bill while also reducing your carbon footprint. Providers like TransAlta specialize in large companies and big energy consumers.
There are a number of government programs available to help farmers invest in innovations that could help increase energy or fuel efficiency, or which could help farmers incorporate green energy solutions as a means of accessing cheap energy rates for their farms. The Growing Forward 2 On-Farm Energy Management Program, for instance, is available to producers in Alberta with a minimum of $10,000 farm commodity or livestock production income. The program is designed to share the cost of investments that will help to improve energy efficiency on Alberta’s farms, allowing farms to reduce their energy consumption, thus improving their energy management—all while reducing the environmental impact of Alberta’s agricultural industry. If you are looking for government programs that will help out with farming innovations, visit Alberta.ca.
If you are looking for more information about how to find a provider to match all of your energy needs, be they electricity, gas, or green, with cheap energy rates for your farm, contact us at EnergyRates.ca today.