Grain product prices could rise after dry weather for Alberta farmers


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Everything from grains and bread to craft beer could soon cost more after farmers in Alberta, especially in the south, were hit by high operating costs and dry weather this year.

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The Government of Alberta has released its final report on the 2021 crop, showing that although overall crop quality across the province was high this year, farmers were not able to harvest as much from their fields. than in previous years.

The report shows that 18 percent of forage reserves in southern Alberta, including areas around Strathmore, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Foremost, were in deficit, 35 percent were in deficit, 43 percent were adequate and four percent were surplus. The grain numbers followed similar trends.

Roy Newman of the Alberta Wheat and Barley Commission grows canola, barley, peas and wheat south of Okotoks. He estimates he’s harvested 50 percent of his normal wheat yield this year and a quarter of his typical canola and barley crop after the area experienced drought conditions for most of the summer and of autumn.

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“We’ve been farming for 30 years and we’re hoping to get a drought check, but we’ve never taken out crop insurance for a drought like this,” Newman said. “This year has been bad. “

In addition to the harsh weather conditions, Newman said producers face high operating costs on everything from farm supplies to gas to rental. On the bright side, however, the prices of most crops are also on the rise and demand for Alberta products is increasing.

Newman said farmers are “ecstatic” at the current price of wheat, but noted that some of these costs could be seen in the grocery store as product moves up the supply chain and through transformers.

“Anytime processors have the opportunity to increase it, consumers are affected,” Newman said.

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He said he didn’t expect big increases on grocery store shelves, but said some costs could be passed on to consumers.

Blair Berdusco, of the Alberta Small Brewers Association, said the tough year for malting barley cultivation could also be reflected in some beer prices in the near future. She said some small brewers in the province who depend on produce grown in Alberta may consider raising prices to meet shortages and demand.

“We expect, based on conversations with local malt barley suppliers, an increase of three to seven percent,” Berdusco said. “Some breweries will have no options since they are already quite small and operate with only a few people, they may have to increase their prices. “

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Berdusco said supply issues would only impact some small breweries, as large farms could import their ingredients from elsewhere if needed.

“The intention is always to maintain consumer prices so that the end product will hopefully remain as stable as possible,” Berdusco said.

Greg Sears, who grows near Grande Prairie and is regional manager for Alberta Wheat and Barley, said he’s also harvested about half of his normal yield. He said many growers signed contracts earlier this year, before crop prices rose, and are now struggling to honor them.

He echoed Newman’s comments by saying he believes consumers will see higher prices passed on to them in the near future.

“It concerns the entire supply chain. Everything from the lack of containers to ship to the prices of fuel, everything, ”Sears said. “The escalation in the prices of inputs for everyone in the supply chain is almost unprecedented this year. From a farmer’s perspective, it’s important to remember that the amount a farmer takes out of that price for a bottle of oil or a loaf of bread is really a very small percentage.

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