The debate about which industry is more advantageous to Alberta’s economic growth is, to no one’s surprise, a nose-to-nose race between oil and agriculture. Both are such prominent and iconic industries of Alberta, and each provide such different benefits to our global and domestic markets. But which market is Alberta currently moving towards?
First, let’s look at both industries’ contributions. When it comes to production of these two trades, agri-food and agriculture provides 6.7% of GPD while oil and gas contributes 2.9% of our GPD with all energy, electricity included, clocking in at 7.5%. Agriculture currently sits at a higher percentage than auto manufacturing, which is something to say in and of itself considering how important the auto industry has been for our nation in past years! Canada sits in 5th place as the biggest exporter of agricultural products in the global market and accounts for 3.5% of the overall profit in agri-food and agricultural exportation worldwide. As well, 4% of global petroleum comes from us and we hold 6% of the entire petroleum market.
Not only are we prominent in both industries on a global scale, but within our own country we put 70% of homegrown product in our shopping carts from family-owned farms. Family is a truly Canadian value, and 98% of our farms are family-owned and operated, meaning what we are putting on the table is directly benefiting our local farmers.
Employment in these industries is what makes them so important to our economic growth, and the oil and gas industry employs more than 400,000 workers with 190,000 of those employees working right in the thick of the oil and gas business. Agriculture in comparison employs 2.2 million people when including all aspects of the trade, with 305,000 working directly in the field. We’ve all heard or experienced firsthand the layoffs happening in such succession in oil and gas. Agriculture on the other hand is expected to be in need of 74,000 more workers by the year 2022.
One of the loudest arguments is greenhouse gas emissions, with oil and gas responsible for 26%, and we know just how important it is to reduce the amount of emissions in our production of both these industries. Agriculture currently contributes at least 10% of total emissions, and Canadians are working hard at trying to reduce this number in both sectors. Adjustments in farming practices, such as the use of a biodiesel, have dramatically lowered the production of greenhouse gases.
It’s no surprise that oil and gas and agriculture are the backbone of Canada’s market. We are lucky that both the gas, oil, and agricultural industries benefit our domestic markets and that globally we are viewed as a hotspot for safe food and reliable fuel. It’s hard to say which industry is more important for Albertans, but it’s not hard to agree that Alberta is growing fast and moving towards a brighter future.