Canada needs 30,000 immigrant farmers over the next decade to take over existing farm operations or to start their own farms, concludes an RBC report.
“In 10 years, 60 per cent of today’s farm operators will be over the age of 65. Never have so many Canadian farmers been so close to retirement. In addition, the number of operators below the age of 55 has declined by 54 per cent since 2001,” notes RBC in its report.
“The most immediate solution to this challenge rests at our borders. Providing permanent immigration status to over 24,000 general farm workers and 30,000 operators can assist in bridging retirement and staffing gaps, help the sector fulfill its productivity potential and meet domestic and foreign food demands.”
The latest data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) reveals the Canadian agricultural sector is already increasingly turning towards immigration to resolve its labour shortages.
In 2022, Canada welcomed 970 new permanent residents who immigrated here to fill jobs in the agricultural sector.
The surge in immigration to fill agricultural jobs in Canada is even up compared to pre-pandemic levels. In 2019, the last full year before the COVID-19 pandemic hit Canada, there were 710 new permanent residents who came to Canada to fill these types of jobs, IRCC data reveals.
And the upward trend in agricultural immigration is only just starting.
In the first two months of this year, 320 new permanent residents came to Canada to fill such jobs, a rate of immigration to fill agricultural jobs that would result in 1,920 more farm workers in Canada if the trend were to continue throughout the rest of the year.
“Canada’s agricultural skills crisis is already one of the world’s worst,” states the report.