Finding good help on the farm or ranch can be a major challenge.

It’s not uncommon for some operations to hire custom harvesters to get the crop in the bin rather than run the risk of inclement weather or frost impacting the quality.

Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) Vice President, Norm Hall, says we’re seeing more migrant workers coming into Canada under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program or the Agricultural Stream of Temporary Foreign Workers Program.

“Foreign labor is a much higher percentage of the labor force and right now we’re seeing somewhere in the neighborhood of 50,000 placements short here in Canada in Agriculture. Over the next ten years, that number will quite possibly double.”

He says some of the factors impacting the labor shortage is the change in the dynamic and size of farms, the government’s desire to increase agricultural exports and production, and the fact there are fewer and fewer farm kids.

“All of the developed Agricultural countries are competing for the same workers. For a lot of workers, distance is an issue, for Nicaraguans Canada is a long way away and the U-S is a lot closer. The U-S can bring their workers in a lot easier than we can in Canada, it takes a much shorter time to go through all the red tape.”

He notes someone from Nicaragua can be guaranteed work in the U-S in about 3 months whereas in Canada it can take up to12 months before the paperwork goes through.

Hall is the CFA’s representative on the Canadian Ag Human Resource Council.


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