CCA cheers Agri-Food Immigration Pilot to address acute labour shortages in beef sector
The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) welcomes news of the Agri-Food Immigration Pilot program.
Foreign workers on Canadian farms and in meat packing plants provide stability throughout the agriculture and beef sectors, and more are needed.
The announcement by the Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship and Rodger Cuzner, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, is a step in the right direction.
The Agri-Food Immigration Pilot will allow beef producers and processors access to much needed workers with the opportunity for a pathway to permanent residency.
Beginning in 2020, the pilot will include spots for 2,750 full time, nonagriculture and agri-food workers.
Labour shortages at the farm level and in beef processing have significantly limited the growth opportunities and overall competitiveness of Canadian beef producers.
A recent report from the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) indicates the Canadian beef cattle sector reported $334 million in lost sales due to unfilled vacancies on farms, ranches and feedlots.
Additionally, there are approximately 1,700 empty butcher stations at meat processing plants across Canada.
According to the CAHRC report, which examines workforce issues in the agricultural sector to 2029, current chronic workplace shortages in the beef sector compounded by high rates of retirement will result in beef producers experiencing the second largest decline in labour supply within agriculture over the forecast period.
At a time when global demand for animal protein is growing, a strong labour force is instrumental for Canada to seize the opportunity to supply more of its high-quality beef worldwide, explained CCA President David Haywood-Farmer.
“Proactively addressing workforce shortages in the beef sector is a top priority for the CCA,” he said.
“CCA and all partners in Canadian agriculture need a strong labour supply and workers with the right skills to grow food production in Canada.”
The Canadian beef cattle industry contributes $18 billion to GDP annually, and generates an estimated 228,000 jobs in Canada, with every job in the sector yielding another 3.56 jobs elsewhere in the economy.