Agribusiness – Invest Medicine Hat

Agribusiness

Agriculture / Sector Profile

Agribusiness opportunities are ripe for the picking in Medicine Hat, Alberta.

Overview

Medicine Hat is situated among some of Canada’s most productive farm and ranch land. The surrounding region is among the Canadian leaders in canola, hemp, and pulse production. The City of Medicine Hat generates, transmits, and distributes its own electricity from natural gas, for approximately 30,000 customers.

The population is young, with over half of the population under the age of 50. Agriculture makes up 10% of the local workforce, making it a significant employer and ensuring agricultural experience is readily available.

The region surrounding Medicine Hat is well-irrigated thanks to St. Mary’s River Irrigation District (SMRID). The CP Rail main line connects Medicine Hat to Calgary and Vancouver. The Trans-Canada and Crowsnest primary highways connect in Medicine Hat, providing primary highway access to Calgary and Vancouver as well.

The City of Medicine Hat is pro-business, having successfully attracted nearly $300 million in new investment since 2018, highlighted by the 1.5 million square foot Aurora Sun project, 100,000 Folium Biosciences facility, and Cancarb expansion.

Local Assets

Population

Medicine Hat’s population is 63,360, according to the 2016 federal census, representing growth of approximately 5% since 2011. It is the primary hub for Southeast Alberta and Southwest Saskatchewan, serving a total regional population of approximately 145,000 residents. The city population is young, with approximately 22% of the population under 20 years old, and over half under the age of 50. The agricultural sector represents 10% of the local labour force by industry, nearly equal with the construction sector.

Irrigation

The region surrounding Medicine Hat has a semi-arid climate with low precipitation, making the St. Mary River Irrigation District (SMRID) a vital part of infrastructure to support agriculture. As Canada’s largest irrigation district, the SMRID delivers water through 2,060 kilometres of canals and pipelines to approximately 150,500 hectares, or 371,894 acres, of land south of the Oldman River and South Saskatchewan River between Lethbridge and Medicine Hat.

Rail

Medicine Hat is serviced by Canadian Pacific Railway (CP Rail), while Canadian National Railway (CN Rail), and short line, regional lines serve the surrounding areas. CP Rail’s main line splits at Medicine Hat, running south through Lethbridge and North through Calgary.

Highways

There are three main highways that connect the region. Trans-Canada Highway, connects Medicine Hat to the rest of Canada, and Highway 3, also known as the Crowsnest Pass Highway, begins in Medicine Hat and ends in Vancouver. Highway 41 connects Medicine Hat to the north and east areas of Alberta, and the Wild Horse Border Crossing in the south.

Utilities

The City of Medicine Hat generates, transmits, and distributes its own electricity from natural gas for approximately 30,000 customers within the City of Medicine Hat, Redcliff, Dunmore, Veinerville and outlying rural areas adjacent to the city.

Crops Overview

Canola

According to the 2016 Census of Agriculture, the region surrounding Medicine Hat grows 284,000 acres of canola.

Canada exports 90% of all canola it produces, with the United States ($3.7 billion) and China ($3.6 billion) representing the two largest markets.

In November 2018, China and Canada agreed to double agriculture trade by 2025. That announcement was soon followed by two Canadian canola traits being accepted by China, opening the door for new seed genetics that will enable Canadian farmers to grow hundreds of millions more dollars of canola on the same amount of land.

China blocked shipments of canola in March 2019, citing pests found among the grain.

Pulses

Medicine Hat’s surrounding region produces a variety of pulses, dry field peas, chickpeas, lentils, dry white beans, and other dry beans. While the region is suited to most major pulse varieties, dry peas are the predominant crop.

There are 3,163 farms growing pulses on 606,962 acres in the region, according to the 2016 Census of Agriculture. In Alberta, producers grew 2,500,831 acres of pulses and Saskatchewan producers grew 2,402,607 acres of pulses. Canada exported over $4 billion worth of pulse crops in 2016, with US exports growing at a rate of 13% CAGR over the past five years.

Protein Industries Canada (PIC) was established to incentivize investment into the prairie provinces’ value-added plant protein industry with the vision to develop new markets and applications for pulse ingredients, with protein leading the way. PIC was awarded over $150 million in 2018 by the federal government as part of its Innovation Superclusters program. The money will be used towards investing in genetics and processing development.

Hemp

Overall production acreage in Alberta trended upwards with a total of 18,083 registered hectares as of 2017. The Government of Canada reports that Alberta accounts for nearly one third of all approved hectarage and over 25% of Canada’s hemp licenses. The neighbouring province of Saskatchewan has 22,000 registered hectares.

Hemp is one of the fastest growing business opportunities in North America in 2018. CBD oil production is expected to grow at a CAGR of 31%, hemp food is growing at a rate of 25%, and fibre is growing at 5.1%.

Provincial Fast Facts

  • Nationally, Alberta represented almost 20% ($9.7 billion) of Canadian total agri-food exports of $52 billion in 2014, and was the third largest exporter of agri-food products after Saskatchewan and Ontario.
  • Alberta’s manufacturing industries employed 144,500 persons in 2014. The largest segment was made up of food and beverage manufacturing workers at 25,500 or 17.6% of the total.
  • Preliminary estimates for 2014 indicate that Alberta’s food and beverage processing industries represented the second largest manufacturing sector in the province accounting for 17.3% or $13.7 billion of total manufactured goods ($79.4 billion). Petroleum and coal product manufacturing industries ranked first at 28.5% or $22.6 billion. Chemical manufacturing industries ranked third at 16.3% or $13.0 billion. Alberta is the third largest food and beverage producing province (13%) in Canada.
  • Alberta’s food and beverage products have high standards and a global reputation for safety and quality.
  • 63% of Alberta’s food and beverage manufacturing industries in 2014 was concentrated in two segments: meat product manufacturing and grain and oilseed milling.
  • Source: http://www.albertacanada.com/business/industries/agrifood.aspx