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Agriculture and Agri-Food Economic Account, 2015

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Released: 2019-07-30

Agriculture and agri-food industries contribution to gross domestic product

The agriculture and agri-food manufacturing sector contributed $49.0 billion to Canada's gross domestic product (GDP) in 2015, accounting for 2.6% of total GDP. Agriculture industries contributed $25.1 billion or 51% of GDP in the sector, while agri-food manufacturing industries contributed $23.9 billion or 49%. Canola farming ($4.6 billion) was the industry that contributed the most to agriculture GDP and meat product manufacturing excluding poultry processing ($3.7 billion) was the industry that contributed the most to food processing GDP.

The importance of this sector varies by province. Although agriculture and agri-food manufacturing GDP is largest in Ontario ($15.3 billion), Quebec ($9.3 billion), Alberta ($7.5 billion) and Saskatchewan ($7.4 billion), the sector is especially important to the economies of Saskatchewan (9.8% of GDP), Prince Edward Island (7.6% of GDP) and Manitoba (5.5% of GDP). As might be expected, the territories have very little agricultural production.

The Agriculture and Agri-food Economic Account

The Agriculture and Agri-food Economic Account for 2015 greatly enhances the industrial detail available for the agricultural and agri-food manufacturing sector within the national accounting framework.

Within the Supply and Use Tables, which comprise the core of production and GDP measures, the 3 agriculture industries have been expanded into 14 industries and the 9 agri-food manufacturing industries have been expanded into 16 industries.

This enhanced detail provides a better perspective of the farming and agricultural processing industries. It also allows users to analyze the supply and use of products across a broader range of activities, and facilitates the comparison of economic relationships and impacts across more industries than is possible in the core Supply and Use Tables.

Provincial diversity in agriculture industries

Among the agriculture industries, canola farming was the largest contributor to Canadian GDP, reaching $4.6 billion in 2015. Canola production is heavily concentrated in the Prairie provinces and accounts for a large share of the agricultural sector's GDP in these provinces, reaching 39.9% in Saskatchewan.

In Ontario and British Columbia, the greenhouse, nursery and floriculture production industry contributed the most to agriculture GDP.

Other crop farming, which include the production of hay and maple syrup and other maple products, contributed the most to agricultural GDP in Quebec.

The potato farming industry led the way in Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick. In Nova Scotia, the other animal production industry contributed the most to the GDP of the agriculture industry, while in Newfoundland and Labrador, agriculture GDP was driven by poultry and egg production.

Inputs into production

Some of the main inputs into crop production are ammonia and chemical fertilizers and pesticides and other agricultural chemicals. The animal production industry primarily requires various animal feeds and support services for animal production.

The oilseed processing industry uses canola (including rapeseed) and oilseeds (except canola) to produce grain and oilseed products, not elsewhere classified, as well as margarine and cooking oils.

The other snack food manufacturing industry uses fresh potatoes and margarine and cooking oils to produce snack food products.

Cattle and calves along with hogs, are primary inputs to the meat product manufacturing (except poultry processing) industry.

Unprocessed fluid milk is only purchased by the dairy product manufacturing industry.

Among crop producers in 2015, wheat farming used the most fertilizer and lime as a proportion of total inputs (27.8%) while soybean farming (10.2%) used the least. The same trend continues in regards to pesticides and other agricultural chemicals, with wheat farming requiring the most of these products (12.7%) and soybean farming the least (3.6%).

Domestic and international supply chains

Canada has a highly integrated agriculture and agri-food supply chain. Given the high levels of Canadian production, most agri-food processing plants are not very reliant on international imports of agricultural products.

In 2015, the import shares of most agriculture goods were below 20% with the exception of fresh vegetables (except potatoes) at 40.9% and fresh fruits and nuts at 84.4%, two categories of products that are directly tied to final consumption by households rather than manufacturing. Canola (including rapeseed) (1.5%) and wheat (0.9%) are the two field crop products with the lowest share of imports.

Some domestic sectors are highly dependent on world markets to sell their products. In 2015, the three agricultural commodities with the largest export shares were wheat (85.3%), fresh vegetables (except potatoes) (84.9%) and oilseeds (except canola) (73.4%).

Many of the agriculture and agri-food products are traded among the provinces. There are large movements of livestock among provinces with interprovincial trade of cattle and calves estimated at $2.9 billion and hogs at $1.3 billion. There are also large interprovincial flows of agri-food products, particularly fresh and frozen beef and veal ($2.9 billion) and cheese and cheese products ($2.9 billion).

Contact information

To request the Agriculture and Agri-Foods Economic Account data tables, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Andreas Trau (613-951-3466;, Industry Accounts Division.

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