On-farm labour is a growing concern for canola farmers. Canola farms need a specialized skill set from their workers, such as operating heavy machinery or understanding agricultural inputs. Workers also need to be willing to live in rural areas and work seasonal jobs.
Finding reliable access to this kind of labour is a challenge. A Canadian Agriculture Human Resources Council (CAHRC) survey from March reveals that 37% of grain and oilseed farms experienced sales losses due to labour shortages in 2014. Farms looking to expand, increase productivity, or capitalize on new marketing opportunities struggle with finding and retaining good labour to support their plans.
An aging farmer population adds to these challenges. The CAHRC survey also revealed that 30% of agriculture’s workforce on the Prairies expects to retire in the next ten years.
These challenges are why CCGA is now a partner of CAHRC. We are passionate about helping farmers succeed, and it makes sense to partner with CAHRC: a national, non-profit organization that focuses on human resource issues in agriculture business. Their work includes ensuring Canadian grain and oilseed farmers have access to the knowledgeable, skilled workers they need.
“CCGA sees labour as an important input to farmers’ competitiveness, both in terms of accessing good workers and managing human resource issues on farm. CAHRC offers a variety of programs and tools to help address these requirements” explains Janelle Whitley, Policy Manager for CCGA.
One of CAHRC’s ongoing projects is the Workplace Action Plan (WAP), which was designed hand-in-hand with agriculture groups ranging from aquaculture to cattle to grains.
The WAP fills out the road map to address labour shortages. Its focus is to increase the supply of skilled and unskilled labour, and to improve the knowledge and skills of existing workers. This can be done by developing a domestic interest in agriculture work, but also through ensuring federal temporary foreign worker programs are designed with agriculture’s unique challenges in mind.
Farming is demanding, labour-intensive work. In order for canola farmers to be successful and maximize their profits, they need access to agriculture labour. CAHRC’s Workplace Action Plan aims to address these concerns, and you can read more information about the plan here.