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Analysis of food security and land loss in Alberta

 
  From the August 27, 2018 issue of Agri-News
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 Understanding the impact of agricultural land loss on Alberta’s ability to produce food in the future is the purpose of the recently published research report, Food Security in the Context of Agricultural Land Loss in Alberta. Rowshon Begam, land use and resource policy coordinator with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry (AF) and co-author of the report, explains its findings.

Production and consumption analysis in the context of farmland loss and population growth was conducted. Explains Begam, “We worked with an assumption of farmland loss at the current rate (2011-2016) and that yield would remain constant over the next fifty years. This analysis allowed us to see whether Alberta will be deficit or surplus in the major agricultural products and how the decreasing farmland availability and increasing consumption will impact Alberta’s food security status in fifty years.”

Begam says that the report outlines that Alberta is a surplus producer in the crop sector. In the livestock sector, Alberta produces a surplus in beef and veal, pork, mutton and lamb while it has a deficit in dairy, poultry, and eggs. In the fruits and vegetables sector, Alberta is significantly deficit except for potatoes.

“More importantly, looking fifty years forward,” says Begam, “The province will maintain a substantial surplus in major field crops even under a conservative production projection. Likewise, Alberta will continue to produce beef and pork in surpluses relative to domestic consumption, even if the production projections do not include potential gains in pasture land.”

“Where Alberta falls short,” notes Begam, “Is meeting domestic consumption of dairy, poultry, and eggs under the existing supply management system, which is unrelated to land availability. In fruits and vegetable production, Alberta has a comparative disadvantage due to climatic conditions. Greenhouse production of vegetables is constrained by a short growing season and high energy costs for year round production, which adds competitiveness challenges to the sector. Availability of farmland is therefore not likely a limiting factor for this sector.”

“At a fundamental level, this topic is always of interest,” explains Begam. “Looking at the long term trend, Alberta’s economy is growing, and so is Alberta’s population. This growth triggers expansion in almost all sectors. Accommodating this growth requires more land, but land is finite and fixed. Expansion of these activities in the past did not always occur on vacant land. In some cases, agricultural lands were either converted for nonagricultural uses or fragmented by nonagricultural developments.”

“As for the bottom line, the deficit is due to challenges that are unrelated to farmland loss,” notes Begam. “It is not a green light to continue losing farmland at this rate. This report only helps us see where we have problems in terms of food security.”

Read Food Security in the Context of Agricultural Land Loss in Alberta. For more information, contact Rowshon Begam, land use and resource policy coordinator with AF, at 780-422-2070.

Contact:
Rowshon Begam
780-422-2070

 
 
 
 
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For more information about the content of this document, contact Rowshon Begam.
This document is maintained by Christine Chomiak.
This information published to the web on August 20, 2018.