MRO Magazine

Canada needs to act fast on nation’s agricultural skills crisis: report

June 5, 2023 | By Samantha Johnson

In April, RBC released its 2023 report on agriculture called Farmers Wanted: the labour renewal Canada needs to build the next green revolution.

The report states that “Canada’s agricultural skills crisis is already one of the world’s worst, adding the nation has “one of the highest skills shortages in food production compared to other major food exporting nations-trailing only the U.S. and the Netherlands.”

It is predicted the average age of a farm operator will be over 65 within the next 10 years. The number of younger operators continues to decline, by 54% since 2001, and 66% of producers do not have a succession plan in place. Additionally, there will also be a shortfall in greenhouse and nursery workers as well as general farm labourers.

The report states Canada needs to act fast.


“To meet our medium and long-term goals, we’ll need to build a new pipeline of domestic operators and workers by bolstering education and increasing the R&D spending behind productivity-enhancing automation.”

New Zealand and Japan are facing similar issues but are already rolling out national strategies. These include offering incentives to farmers to become more autonomous, bringing in foreign skilled workers or allowing new farmers to enter the industry.

“The research they did says that we are going to be short about 30,000 farm operators by 2030,” stated Nichole Neubauer of Neubauer Farms. “We need to come up with some innovative solutions to address that massive gap that will have a direct impact on Canada’s ability to continue to be an agriculture leader.”

To address the shortfall, the report states immigration of farm operators needs to increase over the next decade to 30,000.

“My solution,” said Neubauer, “is let’s look at how we can address our labour shortage by developing human capital domestically. We already have all these kids that come from farms, they seem to be the ones to be the best equipped to fill up those vacancies.”
By Samantha Johnson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, MEDICINE HAT NEWS


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