Joel Schlesinger © Postmedia Network Inc.
Alberta agricultural producers deal with a lot of uncertainty — from weather to fluctuating prices.
But one constant they’ve had is a trusted partner in ATB Financial.
“Supporting the agriculture economy in Alberta was one of the key reasons upon which ATB was founded,” says Jon Neutens, vice-president and head of agriculture at ATB.
Since its inception in 1938, ATB Financial has a long history of helping Alberta farmers, ranchers and, more recently, agri-food manufacturers to grow their businesses through good times and bad.
After all, agriculture is an important pillar of Alberta’s economy.
“It’s always been a backbone industry in Alberta,” Neutens says, adding that primary agriculture plus food and beverage manufacturing added up to 2.5 per cent of the province’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2021.
The agri-food industry, including food and beverage manufacturing revenue in 2021, brought in $21.3 billion, plus an additional $18.7 billion in farm revenue bringing Alberta’s agriculture and agri-food sectors up to a $40 billion industry, Neutens notes.
The opportunity for growth is significant, particularly as farmers, ranchers and food manufacturers increasingly gain access to overseas markets such as China and India, he says.
“It’s not just an Alberta opportunity; it’s one for all of Canada,” he says. “Already the nation is a leading global exporter of agricultural commodities with Alberta being a significant part of that.”
Still, the province’s agriculture sector faces many challenges, from navigating access to foreign markets to climate change and building homegrown capacity for value-added manufacturing.
Helping its clients find solutions to these challenges is a key mandate of ATB.
“We have the tools and resources to provide that support, but we’re also very engaged in the overall industry so we deeply understand the challenges and opportunities for our clients,” says Neutens, adding that what sets ATB apart from other financial institutions operating in Alberta is its dedicated team of more than 75 agricultural specialists.
“Here at ATB, we get it, we live it and we advance it,’” Neutens says.
Indeed, many of the financial institution’s ag specialists truly embody this approach as current and past agricultural producers themselves, he adds.
Additionally, ATB has deep partnerships with key agricultural sector organizations, including post-secondary institutions such as Olds College of Agriculture and Technology to help advance the latest innovations.
“Our goal is to understand the technologies — their successes and challenges — so we can better advise our clients looking to leverage them,” Neutens says. “It’s really about being able to show our clients what’s out there to solve challenges, and what the pros and cons of each might be.”
Of course, ATB does not lose sight of its main role: providing financing and financial advice for agricultural producers to grow their business.
“We have a long history of financing the industry when other banks wouldn’t, and that remains true today during these challenging times,” Neutens says. “We take great pride in our role of helping our clients and the agriculture industry as a whole to grow at home and into new markets around the globe.”
This story was created by Content Works, Postmedia’s commercial content division, on behalf of Calgary Economic Development.