Agriculture, Food & Canadian Countryside
In 2016, Canada had 193,492 farms on 158.7 million acres – of which 93.4 million acres (excluding Christmas trees) were in crops. In other words, the average farm had 820 acres, with 483 acres in crops. The average farm operator was 55 years old.
In 2015, Canadian agri-food exports were valued at $55.4 billion – close to an all-time record. (This represented 55% of the value of Canada’s oil and gas exports and 70% of the value of our exports of cars, trucks, buses and other vehicles.) The most valuable agri-food products were wheat, canola, pulses, soybeans, beef, pork, barley and malt, as well as seafood (lobster, crab, salmon and shrimp), with many products turning in record performances.
Canada is the world’s fifth largest exporter of agri-food merchandise – after the EU, US, Brazil and China. 90% of Canadian farmers are dependent on exports, with fully one in two crop production jobs accounted for by exports. One in four food manufacturing jobs depends on exports – as well as 40% of our food processing sector. Agriculture and food account for 11% of Canada’s goods GDP, as well as 10% of our total merchandise trade. Food processing is by far the largest component of Canada’s manufacturing sector, accounting for 250,000 jobs.
To ensure continuing success for Canadian farmers, seafood producers and food processors, I would pursue the following agri-food priorities as Party Leader and Prime Minister:
(i) enhance Canadian excellence in crop and market risk management, agri-food finance and market-making for major Canadian crops and products;
(ii) ensure excellence in Canada’s food safety system;
(iii) with all major stakeholders, plan for the next phase of agri-food skills, careers and entrepreneurship, while strengthening incentives for family farm succession;
(iv) pursue market access and a fair trading environment for agri-food producers – including for products such as refined beet sugar and sugar-containing products;
(v) match agri-food and seafood producer labour needs where possible to available immigrants, including resettled refugees, and where necessary expand the scope of the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Programme, including to include seafood processing and meat cutting facilities, whenever Canadian workers are unavailable;
(vi) support marketing, research and agri-food technology for value-added products;
(vii) protect Canada’s supply management system for dairy, eggs and poultry;
(viii) support urban food production, local sourcing of food products and strong linkages among cities, farms and rural communities;
(ix) renew federal support for rural infrastructure to ensure maximum impact; and
(x) with industry, continue to enhance agri-food export infrastructure, particularly through Canada’s Pacific and Atlantic gateways.