The Alberta Government recently announced new measures to hopefully increase large investments into our agriculture industry, which could mean big things for Strathmore and Wheatland County.

The 2023 budget will introduce the Alberta Agri-Processing investment tax credit which will produce a 12 per cent nonrefundable tax credit, to be eligible you need to make a minimum capital investment of $10 million in value added agri-processing in Alberta.

According to Wheatland County's Economic Development Officer Jamie Kramble, the County is home to 810 farms producing a variety of crops and livestock. With such a large amount of farms and agricultural producers, we could soon see many big investments on the way.

"We also have a well-developed value chain with ag-input suppliers, equipment manufacturers, feedlots, seed cleaning plants, grain elevators and fertilizer plants," he said.

Prior to this new agri-processing tax credit, Strathmore and the County have already seen several big investments. This includes but isn't limited to Phyto Organix in Strathmore and Willow Creek Organics, which Kramble noted is a new agrifood entrant in the county, having relocated from British Columbia.

Past Chair of the Strathmore Wheatland Chamber of Commerce Hayley Poirier is excited for what potential investments could be on the way with this new tax credit.

"It helps investing make sense here, when our business leaders and our economic development leaders go out and try to attract new opportunities, they really lean into these kinds of incentives to open doors and start conversations," she said.

Poirier added already existing investments like Phyto Organix also plays a large role in attracting other businesses, as laying the groundwork for a big business to choose Wheatland County may catch the attention of other large companies, who may consider our county now that they know other businesses feel we're a good place to invest.

On top of the big overarching benefits of large-scale investments and business, which includes things like more jobs, economic and community growth, and more, Poirier added local farmers also stand to gain a lot from this; it's not just for huge corporations.

"Think of how much money these small farmers have to have to transport their product to wherever it needs to be processed. If it's in your neighborhood, you are saving yourself so much money, time, energy in being able to process it." 

Other benefits for farmers could include more competition for their product, as big processing facilities may create competition with things like grocery stores that also want the same product. On top of that, Poirier also said when we have large companies come in that know they'll have support from local farmers, it makes things better for both sides.

"Larger businesses like our farm equipment businesses, they will bring in bigger and more product on their shelves, which even helps our smaller farmers because they don't have to go outside of our area to buy things."

Kramble noted we already have many large agribusiness companies in the County, like Cargill, Richardson Pioneer, Paterson Grain, Viterra, Parish & Heimbecker, and Nutrien, and looks forward to future opportunities for expansion.

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