More than Just Farming: Employment in Agriculture and Agri-food in Rural and Urban Canada - ARCHIVED

Articles and reports: 21-006-X2002008


While the number of census-farms and farm operators is shrinking, the number of jobs in the agriculture and agri-food industry is growing. During the 15-year period from 1981 to 1996, the industry employed 15% of Canada's workforce.

Employment in the agri-food sector has grown faster than the overall Canadian economy and this has offset the decline in employment on farms. In 1981, more people worked on farms than worked in restaurants, bars and taverns. By 1996, this trend had reversed and employment in the food and beverage services sector far outstripped the number of workers on farms.

Food processing is often promoted as part of agricultural policy (to provide a local market for Canadian farmers) and as part of rural development policy (to create jobs in rural areas). However, in 1996, fewer people were working in Canada's food processing sector than in 1981. More food was processed (there was growth in the gross domestic product (GDP) of this sector), but fewer workers were involved. Rural regions adjacent to urban areas gained a greater share of food processing employment, making these regions relatively competitive in keeping food processing workforces.

Employment in the agricultural and agri-food sectors is growing, but the nature of the work and where it is being done is changing.

Issue Number: 2002008
Volume: 4
Author(s): Keith, Barbara
FormatRelease dateMore information
PDFDecember 11, 2003