Calgary (Rural Roots Canada) – A new report takes a look at the current state of Alberta’s agri-food industry and where it is headed.

Kim McConnell and Karen Spencer are the co-authors of a new report on the current state of the agri-food industry in a new book called “Alberta Agri-Food Futures” put out by the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy and the Simpson Centre.

McConnell says they were asked to write this report on where they see the industry headed.

“We started by putting it into context where we are as an industry, the size, etc and I think we surprised a number of people in that regard because we showed that our agri-food industry from farm to plate,” McConnell said.

“It is a 56 billion dollar industry, considerably larger than anybody had anticipated because they usually think of agriculture as primary agriculture.”

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McConnell says there is a large knowledge gap between what the general public and politicians think constitutes agriculture.

“In many ways, many people think of grandparents’ farms and the production side, and certainly that is the core and the base from which all things grow.”

However, it is much more than that.

“It is all the processing side. It is the food. It is the ingredient components that go into that.”

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McConnell says when they start showing all of the opportunities and all the jobs it became apparent the agri-food industry is the largest employer in Alberta and the largest GDP, which he says is a bit surprising.

Moving forward he says agriculture is going to be a leader coming out of the pandemic when it comes to economic growth.

He adds he is not even sure anyone could even imagine what it could be.

“When we start looking at carbon capture and what can be done and now we start looking at all of the technologies from autonomous vehicles to processing to the ingredient stuff that can be done, to biofuels, to bioplastics.”

McConnell says the big question now that people should be asking is where can it go from here?

“All I would say to anybody who is interested in looking is that the agriculture and food industry is an industry of jobs, it’s an industry of investment, it’s an industry of growth, and it’s an industry that addresses many of the issues that consumers have on their mind.”

To read the full report click here.

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