Keystone Agricultural Producers shared good news about the 2012 crop and reflected on farmers’ contributions to Manitoba’s economy at a harvest event today in Winnipeg.
“The buzz in the agriculture industry is the remarkable confluence of good yields and excellent prices,” said Doug Chorney, KAP president, at a gathering at the Forks Market.
Those at the event, including Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives Minister Ron Kostyshyn, were invited to check out a hopper full of hard white spring wheat, which yielded over 50 bushels per acre at a record price of nearly $9 a bushel.
“For every $1 that a grain farmer earns, our research shows that $13.90 is put back into the economy,” Chorney noted.
Dave Shambrock, executive director of the Manitoba Food Processors Association explained this multiplier effect: “Wheat goes to a miller – let’s say Prairie Flour Mills in Elie. The company employs people to mill it into flour and transport the flour to bakeries – and each bakery employs a staff and transportation personnel to move the finished products to the retail level. The grocery stores, of course, receive a profit from the sales – and they also employ a significant number of people.
“This is a simplistic example, but you can see how this one commodity, with the assistance of Manitoba’s food processors, creates employment and economic spin-offs.”
According to provincial calculations, economic activity generated by farmers, along with the food-and-beverage-processing and food-service industries, generated $10.1 billion in economic activity in 2010 – and created 62,000 jobs for Manitobans.
“It all starts on the farm – whether its grain, dairy, beef, chicken, pulse, pork or any other kind of primary agricultural production – and it takes off from there,” said Chorney.
KAP is running a bus board campaign called Sharing the Harvest that emphasizes farmers’ economic contributions. As a kick-off to the campaign, it shared with those at the event cinnamon buns from a bakery that sources local grain.
On a more sober note, Chorney indicated there are some areas in the agriculture industry where farmers are not in the same situation as many grain producers. In the pork sector, for example, low prices and high feed cost have farmers concerned about the survival of their businesses and their livelihoods, he said.
In addition, he noted there are farmers in the Assiniboine Valley who have been flooded out and producers in the Interlake whose crops have been decimated by hail.
KAP ended Monday’s event by presenting a cheque to Winnipeg Harvest, another symbol of farmers sharing the harvest with Manitobans.