National Workforce Strategy for Agriculture and Food & Beverage Manufacturing Will Help Address Chronic Labour Issues in Agriculture

October 13, 2021, Ottawa – The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) is partnering with Food and Beverage Canada, the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) and the Future Skills Centre (FSC) to develop a National Workforce Strategy for Agriculture and Food and Beverage Manufacturing.

This project will establish an actionable roadmap to lead the way in addressing workforce and skills shortages in agriculture and the food and beverage manufacturing industry, and help address the chronic labour shortages that Canadian farmers have faced for decades. In doing so, it will help to build resilience in the Canadian food supply chain while helping to grow the sector. It will also aid the sector in achieving the ambitious growth targets, both in exports and domestic sales, set forth by the Agri-Food Economic Strategy Table.

“Labour challenges in agriculture have been ongoing for decades, and are one of the most prominent factors obstructing the remarkable growth potential that has been identified for Canadian agriculture and our agri-food industry as a whole,” said Mary Robinson, CFA President.

The issue of unfilled jobs has been ongoing for decades and has an alarming projectile. In fact prior to COVID, Canadian farmers lost $1.5 billion in 2014 simply because they could not find people to work. In 2020 COVID further exacerbated this chronic labour shortage, pushing Canadian farmers’ losses to $2.9 billion in revenue. This is equivalent to 4.2% of the sector’s total sales.

“CFA has been calling to develop a national labour strategy for decades, and we are very pleased to be partnering on this project. An initiative such as this is sorely needed to to not only help unlock the potential growth of Canada’s agriculture and agri-food sectors, but also to ensure the long-term health of our Canadian food supply chain,” said Robinson.

The National Workforce Strategy for Agriculture and Food and Beverage Manufacturing will be a two-year project. The first year will gather information about programs and services that already exist, identify gaps and recommend new programs and tools.

The second year will see the development of the National Workforce Strategy for Agriculture and Food and Beverage Manufacturing. The strategy will outline a vision for the future, priorities, and stakeholder commitments, then map out the actions and tools needed based on the research findings.

CFA is excited to embark on this project with its partners and take a proactive step in addressing the chronic labour challenges that have been facing agriculture and agri-food supply chains for decades.