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The current crisis in Canadian agriculture is well documented. Researchers are pointing to the declining ability of farmers to support local communities as a result of cost-price squeezes and high debt loads. These problems have been directly associated with the rural community crisis, which in Alberta is one of dwindling populations, an aging demographic base and depressed local economies. There is little doubt that the crisis in these two sectors is real, but the suggested linkages between them are open to question. The survivability of rural communities is not exclusively tied to agricultural profits. While beleaguered Alberta farmers seem to be compounding their reduced spending .by trading with nearby cities rather than the local community, of even greater relevance is the presence of industries which encourage population growth. Agriculture is no longer a major contributor to the creation of rural employment, particularly in prairie Canada where the technologies of extensive production have replaced labor inputs with capital investment. The argument being presented here is that the crisis of rural communities is related to the crisis in agriculture only to the extent of reduced local spending. This is a serious problem, but the major issue is one of dwindling populations. The decline of agricultural jobs in Alberta is for the most part, not the product of the crisis. To the contrary, it represents a long term trend toward mechanization and increased efficiency. Studies conducted in this province suggest that the survival of rural communities is increasingly tied to urban economies and values. Those communities which are able to attract urban industrial developments or provide a residential base for urban workers clearly show the greatest propensity for future growth. Inevitably this is producing a spatial bias in their distribution across the rural landscape.

Subject(s): Community/Rural/Urban Development

Issue Date: 1989-06

Publication Type: Working or Discussion Paper

PURL Identifier:

Total Pages: 15

Series Statement: Staff Paper


Record appears in: University of Alberta > Department of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology (REES) > Staff Paper Series

Autor: Haigh, Richard J. ; Kisko, Adrienne L.


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