Sask. sets records in agri-food exports

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February 17, 2015 9:01 AM

Once again, the province of Saskatchewan is leading the nation in agri-food exports.

For the fourth year in a row, Saskatchewan has made record profits from agri-food exports, bringing in $13.9 billion from 153 countries in 2014. Agri-food refers to agriculture and agriculture products, like canola and canola oil. This figure represents a 19 per cent increase over 2013 exports, which totalled $11.7 billion.

Deputy agriculture minister Alanna Koch says this puts the province on pace to meet its goal of $15 billion in agri-food export revenue by the year 2020.

“We’re pretty pleased with the results, that’s for sure,” Koch said. “At the time when we set those targets we knew they were ambitious, but we did think that we could achieve them. And based on where we’re at in 2014, we think we’ll definitely be able to meet those targets.”

The government set those goals in 2012 as part of the Saskatchewan Plan For Growth. The plan also sets out the goal to grow crop production by 10 million tonnes to 36.6 million by 2020. Koch says goals like this help push exports. She also says she hopes that by 2020 the province will produce $6 billion in “value-added” agriculture production.

At a time when the effects of the fluctuating price of oil is being felt all over Western Canada, Koch says agriculture is a sector of the economy that has been reliable “for some time.”

“The world’s growing population and this constant and growing demand for more food as well as diversified and higher-value food products just means all kinds of optimism and opportunity for the agriculture and agri-food sector,” she said. “We think that it’s going to continue to be a very strong and steady contributor to the Saskatchewan economy.”

Koch says that while Saskatchewan trades under a “Canadian banner,” the province has established a reputation of its own as a reliable agri-foods exporter. She also notes that trade missions, like the one she was on with Premier Brad Wall in India at the end of last year, helps to promote the province.

“Saskatchewan is well-known in many parts of India because we are the largest Canadian trading partner to India. And a big part of that is because of our pulse crop production, so our lentils and our peas,” she said. “We’re well-known for high quality and high volumes of pulse products, which is a staple food product in India. We’re also known for out potash and our wheat. I would say we have a very good brand.”

Koch also credits the federal government for working to establish trade agreements around the world while trying to reduce trade barriers. She says access to global markets is important to the growth of Canadian agriculture.

“We export to so many more countries than any other province in the country ... exporting agriculture and agri-food products to 153 countries in 2014,” she said. “That’s another really important factor when we think about the reach of Saskatchewan products and how important we are to global food security when you think of us reaching into 153 countries. Its staggering really if you think about what we mean to the world.”

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