Agricultural Labor Shortage Aggravated by COVID

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Farmscape for December 30, 2021

Full Interview 7:34 Listen

The General Manager of Manitoba Pork warns the labor shortage that’s limiting the agriculture sector’s growth potential has been worsened by the effects of the global pandemic. The labor crunch faced by Canadian agriculture is examined in an article posted to the Manitoba Pork web site as part of its December 1st edition of Chop Talk. Manitoba Pork General Manager Cam Dahl says we’re seeing rural populations diminish so there’s fewer people available to work on farms.

Clip-Cam Dahl-Manitoba Pork:
Last year the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council did a survey of agriculture businesses and found that 40 percent had not met their staffing requirements and that was even higher for the hog industry at over 50 percent. By the end of this decade, it’s projected that agriculture will have almost 125 thousand open positions so it’s a real serious problem. It’s something that’s inhibiting our growth potential and, in some cases, even causing some operations to question whether they can continue to go forward, really brought to a head by COVID where that shortage is seen on the farm, seen in the barn as well as support industries like feed mills. We’re short vets, we’re short people to work in our processing plants, it goes throughout the entire sector. If agriculture producers or value-added processors can’t get the people they need to run their plants and to run their farms they’re not going to be taking advantage of some of those growth opportunities. That’s a real problem for Manitoba’s economy, for the Canadian economy as a whole.

Dahl suggests we need to showcase agriculture and what an interesting career it can be, whether it’s on the cutting edge of genetics or animal care or nutrition or marketing, agriculture is really an interesting place to be and that’s not necessarily understood. He observes the industry is coming together to look for solutions and it is on the radar screens of our political leaders but we don’t yet have the solutions.

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