New Research Finds Vacant Jobs in Agriculture Costs Producers $1.5 Billion

OTTAWA, MARCH 15 – New figures released by the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) illustrate the increasing challenges that labour constraints are having on Canada’s agriculture and agri-food sector.

According to CAHRC, annual farm cash receipt losses to Canadian producers due to unfilled vacancies are $1.5 billion, or 3% of the industry’s total value in sales and production. This finding is part of new Labour Market Information (LMI) research, which was released during the ‘Growing the AgriWorkforce Summit’ in Winnipeg. These losses reflect a myriad of missed opportunities for producers, resulting from delayed and increased lost production, added costs, or forced changes in plans to expand or upgrade facilities.

The LMI research also revealed that primary agriculture still has the highest industry job vacancy rate of any industry at 7%. The research was based on 2014 figures.

The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) recognizes the urgent need to find solutions for agricultural labour constraints and has worked with CAHRC on this project since its inception.

“These new findings from CAHRC clearly highlight the need for a long-term strategy that will address the challenges Canadian producers are facing due to labour issues,” says CFA President Ron Bonnett. “The CFA thanks CAHRC for undertaking this important research and will be reviewing the information extensively to determine the appropriate next steps for establishing collaborative solutions between industry and government.”

The current gap between labour demand and the domestic workforce is 59,000 and projections indicate that by 2025, the Canadian agri-workforce could be short workers for 114,000 jobs. In response, industry efforts have been encouraging young people and workers from other sectors to get into agriculture as a career. Despite extensive efforts gaps still exist and there still will be a large void in the future.

“The situation is critical now and will only get worse unless it is effectively addressed,” explains Portia MacDonald-Dewhirst, CAHRC Executive Director.

CAHRC’s research indicates that while agriculture labour shortage is critical today, it will be even more so 10 years from now, with dire consequences for business viability, industry sustainability and future growth. This has the potential to affect food security for Canadian consumers, as well as export potential for Canada’s entire agri-food industry.

Furthermore, given that the agri-food sector contributes nearly $107 billion annually to the country’s gross domestic product and provides one in eight Canadian jobs, the troubling trends identified in CAHRC’s research are not limited to just agriculture, and could have significant implications throughout the Canadian economy.

The LMI research was derived from surveys, interviews and focus groups conducted with 1,034 representatives of Canadian agricultural organizations, employees, and employers – 813 of whom were primary producers.

More information on this research can be found at The LMI research was funded by the Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) Sectoral Initiatives Program.

The Canadian Federation of Agriculture is the country’s largest national general farm organization. Its members include provincial general farm organizations, national and inter-provincial commodity organizations – representing more than 200,000 Canadian farmers and farm families through its members. Founded in 1935 to provide Canada’s farmers with a single voice in Ottawa, the CFA works on behalf of Canada’s farmers to ensure the continued development of a viable and vibrant agriculture and agri-food industry in Canada.

For more information, please contact:
Jessica Goodfellow or Erin Kelly
CFA Directors of Communication