Alberta’s Agricultural Producers share their Priorities going into May Elections
With Alberta’s provincial elections coming up on May 29th, it is important that we don’t lose sight of Albertans’ priorities in election dialogue. No matter which party wins the election and forms government, they will be tasked with designing policies for all Albertans. At the Simpson Centre, we set out to learn which policy issues are important for people working in Alberta’s agriculture sector.
A survey with agriculture producers in Alberta was conducted from February to March 2023. Our goal was to discover the policy priorities of agriculture producers. Responses from almost 300 participants in Alberta allowed us to generate interesting findings on the topics of climate change, government spending, technology and research, and the economy.
Of those who took part in our survey, 51% were aged 18-39, 33% were aged 40-60, and 16% were aged 60+. Responses came from 92 distinct postal code areas across Alberta. 49% of respondents identified as grain and oilseed producers, 44% as beef producers, 7% as producers of a supply managed commodity, and 25% of respondents identified as producers of more than one of these commodities. Our full report, “Agriculture Matters: Primary Producers’ Voices on Policy in Alberta,” goes into deeper detail, but here, we can look at a few key findings from the survey.
Policy issues around markets, fairness, and trade are significant considerations for primary producers. When asked whether they agree or disagree that accessing new markets for commodities is a major concern for agricultural production in Alberta, 80% of grain and oilseed producers, and 67% of beef and supply managed commodity producers, agreed. The increased concern by grain and oilseed producers could be a reflection of current events, the increased demand for Canadian wheat due to the Ukrainian conflict, for example. There was overarching agreement that the Alberta Government should prioritize policies that ensure fair returns and do not disadvantage Albertan producers.
The benefits of agricultural research is another important topic for Albertan producers. When asked if their farm had been positively affected by Canadian agriculture research, there was significant agreement across age groups.
However, if we compare the relative importance of tax incentives to agriculture research funded by the province, the generations disagreed. Only 46% of farmers over the age of sixty would choose to prioritize research funding over tax incentives, whereas 68% of farmers aged 18-39, and 72% of farmers aged 40-60 would prefer to see the Government of Alberta prioritize research funding. These findings might suggest that younger farmers would opt for long-term benefits from research and innovation over short-term financial gains.
The full report about what the survey results say about policy priorities of agricultural producers in Alberta is available on the Simpson Centre’s website: https://www.simpsoncentre.ca/events/alberta-elections/. In May, keep an eye out for our third and final report from the Alberta Elections program, as we create an agri-food awareness ranking of the parties running in Alberta’s provincial elections.
The Simpson Centre for Food and Agricultural Policy is affiliated with the School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary. We are committed to using evidence-based research and analysis to strengthen Canada’s agriculture sector and to improve the food system for all Canadians. We encourage better conversations between industry, government, and the public through the lens of accessible and transparent research.