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Canada’s garden spot of the year

Across the Canadian prairies this pandemic year, farm families have reported record shattering yields of wheat, oats, barley, and other commodities — a much welcome change of fortune following a protracted period of drought.

Nowhere is the bumper crop more bountiful than in Southern Alberta, according to Neil Townsend of Farmlink Marketing Solutions. He recently named Southern Alberta as Canada’s “garden spot of the year.”

Home to 65 percent of Canada’s irrigated acres, the vast prairie region bound by Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, and Calgary is further set to benefit from historic new investment into improving and expanding the region’s irrigation infrastructure. “Agriculture is the beating heart of Alberta’s economy,” said Premier Jason Kenney on the day of the announcement. “As global demand for agrifood products continues to grow, our producers and irrigation districts will be better positioned to meet that demand for generations to come.”

The $815-million investment, undertaken by the Government of Alberta, the Canada Infrastructure Bank, and eight irrigation districts, will modernize irrigation district infrastructure and increase water storage capacity.

Upon completion, the two-phase project will result in more than 200,000 additional acres of irrigated farmland, with the potential to create up to 6,800 direct and indirect agriculture and food processing jobs, and up to 1,280 construction jobs.

Expanded irrigation districts will be well-served by ports across Canada, including a brand new state-of-the-art grain export terminal, which recently opened at the Port of Vancouver, to increase global market access for Western Canadian commodities, ingredients, and foodstuffs.

In China and beyond, a growing global middle class, improvements in global storage and distribution, and Canada’s reputation for food safety, have combined to create new opportunities for Canadian agriculture.

At the same time that global demand is increasing, the COVID-19 pandemic has increased calls for Canada to build more resilient domestic food systems.

Buoyed by the growing market opportunity, the City of Medicine Hat is proceeding with an area structure plan for a new industrial park in the northwest corner of the city.

As part of initial planning, consulting engineers will develop a functional servicing plan, study area drainage, and pre-engineer potential utility and transportation networks.

Located on the Trans Canada Highway and CP mainline, offering one of Canada’s most competitive business climates, and surrounded by a vast area of irrigated and dryland agriculture, Medicine Hat offers expanding commodities companies, ingredients processors, and food manufacturers a strategic location from which to serve western North America and beyond.

About the Author: Jon Sookocheff is the Business Development officer with Invest Medicine Hat.

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