The following piece is from our sister publication, the Alberta Seed Guide.
A new report commissioned by the Alberta Irrigation Districts Association shows irrigation’s annual contribution to the provincial GDP has increased since 2015, a Nov. 23 news release says.
The report titled the Economic Value of Alberta’s Irrigation Districts was done by Acera Consult Inc. and re-examined the benefits of irrigation within Alberta’s 13 irrigation districts. It found that between 2011 to 2018 irrigation within irrigation districts annually generated $5.4 billion to provincial GDP, $3.2 billion in labour income and supported about 46,000 full-time equivalent positions.
“Ongoing infrastructure rehabilitation along with on-farm efficiency improvements and crop diversification have been key to growing the irrigation sector to support economic, societal and environmental priorities. Districts, irrigators and the provincial government have been collaborating for many years to ensure investments in the system support the entire irrigated region,” Alex Ostrop, chair of the Alberta Irrigation Districts Association, says in the release.
The release notes the study looked at the economic contribution of irrigated crop and livestock production, irrigation-related food processing, the impact of irrigation infrastructure on government revenue along with the contribution of non-irrigation benefits including hydropower generation and drought mitigation.
It was also found irrigated lands within irrigation districts represent only 4.4 per cent of Alberta’s cultivated land base but generate 27 per cent of the province’s total primary agricultural sales and contribute 28 per cent of Alberta’s total agri-food GDP.
“Alberta’s government secured a historic total investment of $933 million in irrigation infrastructure funding because we are committed to driving economic growth and job creation in rural communities. This study commissioned by the Alberta Irrigation Districts Association proves that our irrigation investments will create thousands of jobs and support GDP growth for years to come,” Nate Horner, minister of agriculture, forestry, and rural economic development, says in the release.
The release says the importance of irrigated agriculture is observed during extended periods of low precipitation as has been experienced through much of the province this season.
The study also examined the impact of irrigation infrastructure funding on government revenues finding that every $1.00 invested by the Alberta government on irrigation district related activities returned $3.56 in added revenue to the provincial government.
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