The Agricultural Sector
The agricultural sector is the major economic driver that drives the social and economic infrastructure in the greater Parkland region with more than $570 million in annual total gross farm receipts, and nearly $3.1 billion in total farm capital (Statistics Canada, 2010). The total farm business operating expenses in the Parkland was $460 million of which 31.2% ($143 million) was from PARC member communities, mainly in Dauphin and Gilbert Plains.
There are approximately 2,730 farms in the Parkland with 1.8 million cultivated acres. Farmers have invested more than $660 million in farm machinery and equipment and have the ability to produce high volumes of various field crops. The excellent soil and climate conditions enable a wide range of crop production to include all major grains and oilseeds such as; wheat, canola, soybean, barley, oats, flax, industrial hemp, buckwheat, borage, forages, pulses and other specialty crops. Two of the most stable and significant crops grown are wheat and canola.
The diversity of the region provides for good quality farmland and grazing pastures suitable for large livestock production. Approximately 1,500 farms in the Parkland report cattle and calf production with about 250,000 head, mostly in the eastern side of the Parkland. The value of livestock and poultry in the Parkland is estimated at $205 million (Statistic Canada, 2011). In addition to traditional cattle and hog farms, livestock production includes; bison, elk and fallow deer – in fact, nearly half the bison and elk in Manitoba are produced in and around our region.
Businesses interested in investing in the PARC region can tap into a network of agricultural expertise to assist with evaluating an opportunity. With nearly all commodities harvested and exported to processors and markets outside the Parkland, the farmers want to support and encourage investment into local processing to reduce the cost of transporting raw product, create jobs and to reinvest in their communities.
Currently, the agricultural sector is predominately primary production with almost no secondary processing. Nearly all production is grown for export and is shipped by the Canadian National Railway or provincial RTAC highways to distant processors in southern Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Ontario, the United States and elsewhere. The nearest port is in Churchill, Manitoba, followed by Thunderbay, Ontario and Vancouver, British Columbia.