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2022 was a record year for Alberta farmers and ranchers: report

A stock photo of farming in southern Alberta. A stock photo of farming in southern Alberta.

A new report from ATB Economics suggest that Alberta farmers came out ahead last year despite skyrocketing operating costs, supply chain issues and growing conditions that were less than ideal. 

According to the report, released on Wednesday, the realized net income of Alberta farmers was up 2.6 per cent in 2022, reaching an all-time high of $3.3 billion.

This, while operating costs and depreciation charges increased by 24.7 per cent and 9.5 per cent respectively.

"For the most part, prices were fairly good, not quite as high as the year before, they'd slipped some," Alberta Federation of Agriculture (AFREA) president Lynn Jacobson said. "But there was opportunity to lock in some pretty attractive prices."

Crop insurance played a big part in that, as it helped turn what could have been a disastrous year for many into a profitable one.

For many farmers, like Fort Macleod’s Stephen Vandervalk, it’s a program they can no longer live without.

"Crop insurance was a big thing for southern Alberta, so you'd think with crop insurance you wouldn't have very high incomes, but the crop insurance coverage was pretty good with prices being so high, and we had decent averages built up from the previous 10 years," he said.

Nationally, It was a different story, with the realized net income in Canada dropping 9.5 per cent.

Saskatchewan had the highest realized net income at $4.5 billion, but that represented a 19.7 per cent drop from the previous year’s record-setting total.

Across the board, realized net income was either down or negative in six of ten Canadian provinces.

"I think we had more consistent supplies of our inputs, when you talk about Ontario and some of the areas there they were hit with that fertilizer shortage and that excise tax," Jacobson said.

While many are coming off a strong year, expectations for the upcoming harvest aren't as positive; falling crop prices and concerns over lack of rainfall have some farmers worried.

"I think I can speak for a fair majority, this year is setting up for being a really, really bad year," Vandervalk said. 

"Commodity prices are absolutely collapsing. Canola, we're almost there but let's just call it, we're at half price."