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Farming has big impact on district economy

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Jeff Gillon, Community Investment manager for the Rainy River Future Development Corp. here, believes the economic impact local farming has on Rainy River District is one very few people know much about.

“The farming industry provides income and revenue to people across the district, and is not restricted to one specific place but is actually quite widespread,” Gillon said.

In terms of dollars, farming falls behind only forestry and tourism, and is driven primarily by beef cattle.

“There are more beef farmers in the area but more full-time dairy farmers,” Gillon noted.

The industry, which has been making a steady climb in the last four years, is a main net exporter of beef cattle to Winnipeg.

“Our cattle industry has increased from about 10,000 head of cattle to about 13,000, or there about,” Gillon said.

“Currently, a head of cattle goes for about $1,000 dollars, and if you consider they are selling about 10,000 to 13,000 cattle, it is quite a bit of money,” he added.

Although cattle may be the mainstay of the district, many other farmers have chosen to specialize in livestock such as pigs, sheep, bison, and elk.

And though poor weather has been the reason for a decrease in grains and cereals in the past few years, projects currently are underway to test a variety of forages and grains for adaptability and economic stability in this area.

One such program—testing to see if canola can be introduced to the district—is being conducted at the Emo Research Station under the direction of research technician Kim Jo Bliss Calder.

The testing process, which takes three-four years to complete, examines a variety of different canolas to determine which type would grow best in this area.

Although an exact figure is hard to come by, it’s estimated the direct economic impact of the agricultural industry on the district is quite high.

“If you were to consider the expansion of the district, in terms of more animals multiplied by the value of the animals, I would say the direct economic impact on this district would be close to $9.3 million dollars,” said Gary Sliworsky, the local Agriculture and Rural rep with the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs office in Emo.

Meanwhile, Gillon feels the public isn’t aware of just how unique and different our local agricultural industry is.

“I guess the one main point I would like to make is that the agricultural industry is a a lot more diverse than many people know,” said Gillon.

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