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Diversifying Alberta’s agriculture sector

Provincial Press Release July 7, 2021 @ 4:36pm published July 8 @ 8:10am

Alberta’s government is focused on building a strong agriculture sector that creates jobs and attracts investment in sustainable value-added processing.

The governments of Canada and Alberta are supporting the Alberta Hemp Alliance (AHA) with a one-time grant to establish a provincial industry association for hemp processing with more than $300,000 over two years (2021-2023) through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership.

The grant will help AHA build capacity to fulfil its mandate as the provincial association for the hemp industry in Alberta. AHA intends to be self-sustainable beyond its first years of operation by creating revenue streams from membership fees, an industry sales levy, education and training, webinars, conferences and trade shows.

“Supporting the burgeoning hemp industry is important because it will provide producers new market opportunities and a way to diversify their rotation with this alternative crop. From seed to straw, the opportunities to sell this crop are growing, with value added products ranging from food to biofuel to bioplastics and construction materials.”

Marie-Claude Bibeau, federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

The Canadian Agricultural Partnership has also provided more than $950,000 in grants to BioComposites Group Inc. (BCG) in the past three years to support growth in the hemp fibre industry in Alberta.

“Emerging industries like the hemp fibre sector are creating full-time local jobs and driving diversification in Alberta. It’s great to see BCG and the Alberta Hemp Alliance committed to rural revitalization and supporting our ambitious targets for job creation, investment attraction and increased agricultural and value-added exports.” Devin Dreeshen, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry

“These investments into the hemp industry are a game-changer for our region. Alberta’s government is focused on attracting investments into the value-added sector and we can confidently say that BCG and the Alberta Hemp Alliance are partners in that vision. Together, we can create a sustainable hemp processing industry that will create jobs and diversify our economy.” Mark Smith, MLA for Drayton Valley-Devon

BCG sources hemp straw, which was previously seen as waste, from Alberta farmers. Maximizing the potential of the entire plant will bolster farm income and lead to a more resilient agriculture sector. Having expanded into all aspects of the hemp fibre processing stream, BCG is ensuring Albertans have access to high-quality and sustainable hemp products.

“Hemp straw was previously just a waste product for growers. We have built the biggest hemp processing hub in North America, creating value-added products that we market internationally. I’m proud that BioComposites Group is an Alberta company working to find sustainable solutions in multiple industry sectors, increasing farm income and creating environmentally sustainable products.” Dan Madlung, CEO, BioComposites Group

“With this grant from the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, the Alberta Hemp Alliance will continue to build a diverse and collaborative community of like-minded individuals, businesses and organizations to facilitate the rapid growth of the hemp industry in Alberta. We will continue to focus on facilitating market development and provide provincial networking, tools and resources.” Corey Peebles, chair, Alberta Hemp Alliance

Quick facts

  • Alberta Hemp Alliance (AHA) is a non-profit association of stakeholders collaborating to create a strong, competitive and diversified hemp industry in Alberta.

  • AHA promotes market development and provides networking, tools and resources for Alberta hemp producers and processors.

  • Terrafibre products manufactured by BCG use Canadian-grown fibres that are decorticated, cleaned and manufactured in Alberta.

  • The company is planning to build a new facility to decorticate hemp and flax, and to manufacture insulation and green building products.

  • The project will take 18 to 24 months to complete, and will result in:

    • $30-million investment

    • 100 direct, full-time jobs

    • Crop diversification and income generation for farmers

    • Using straw currently wasted by farmers

    • 100,000 tonnes of carbon sequestration for the first phase alone

  • The Canadian Agricultural Partnership is a five-year, $3-billion investment by federal, provincial and territorial governments, to strengthen the agriculture, agri-food and agri-based products sector. This includes up to $2 billion for programs cost-shared by the federal and provincial/territorial governments that are designed and delivered by provinces and territories.

  • Programs and activities are focused on:

    • Growing trade and expanding markets

    • Innovative and sustainable growth of the sector

    • Supporting diversity and a dynamic, evolving sector

  • In Alberta, the Partnership has committed a federal-provincial investment of up to $406 million over five years toward strategic programs and services that are aligned to national objectives and tailored to regional needs.

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