GFM Network News


New pilot program for agri-food labour welcomed

Meat processors, greenhouse and mushroom growers, livestock producers get first crack at program

Ottawa — Federal officials hope a new pilot program will help stabilize ongoing labour issues in certain sectors of the agri-food value chain, while also providing citizenship to some foreign workers. Critics, however, contend more support is needed. “This pilot will help to ensure that farmers and processors have the much-needed skills, experience and labour […] Read more

How COVID-19 is upending global food supply chains

Cows fed strawberries in India, watermelons rot in U.S., okra not reaching Canada

Satara/Singapore/London | Reuters — In the fertile Satara district in western India, farmers are putting their cattle on an unorthodox diet: Some feed iceberg lettuce to buffalo. Others feed strawberries to cows. It’s not a treat. They can either feed their crops to animals or let them spoil. And other farmers are doing just that […] Read more


Federal COVID-19 response for ag sector remains unclear

Imports of farm labour, crop inputs among concerns

Canada’s agriculture sector is waiting on details of a federal response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic as its concerns pile up. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada has stated it understands “the importance of a stable labour force enabling Canadian food supply, and (is) committed to giving Canadians and businesses the support they need” but is not […] Read more

The Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council found there were 63,000 unfilled positions in the ag sector last year.

Canada’s farm labour crisis keeps getting worse

The worker shortage has doubled in the last 15 years and will double again in the next decade

Agricultural labour shortages across Canada have doubled over the past 10 years and could double again by 2029. In its most recent labour market forecast, the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council found there were 63,000 unfilled positions in the sector last year — up from 30,000 unfilled positions in 2004. And that number is expected […] Read more



The coming wave of autonomous farm equipment — such as this seeding rig mounted on a DOT Technology “power platform” — is partly being driven by the severe and growing labour shortage on farms.

Ag tech tackles the next frontier — the people shortage on farms

The labour shortage has gone from problem to crisis — and that’s prompting a new tech revolution

Advances in farm equipment over the past 15 years have focused on one thing — allowing farmers to do more with less. Bigger equipment to cut the time when seeding and harvesting. GPS to minimize overlap. Precision tech to make every seed and input count. No till to capture snow and retain moisture (with less […] Read more


Even if paid employees form a union, the province says it will quickly act to stop a strike during critical times, such as harvest or seeding, or when care of livestock is affected. 

Farm workers can unionize — but don’t panic just yet

Ag minister says workers should have that right, but predicts ‘extremely low unionization rates’

It’s business as usual on Kevin Serfas’s farm after the provincial NDP government tabled a bill that will give farm workers the right to unionize. “My initial response yesterday was shock and horror,” the Turin-area farmer said in an interview May 26. “But as I did a little more reading into it, I’m a bit […] Read more



The Canadian Meat Council says there are about 1,000 vacancies in meat-packing plants across the country.

Jobs minister ‘uninformed’ about ag labour crisis

MaryAnn Mihychuk says packers should step up recruiting, but there are 1,000 jobs that Canadians don’t want

The new federal jobs minister simply doesn’t understand the labour crisis faced by the country’s meat-packing industry, says the co-chair of an industry labour task force. Employment Minister MaryAnn Mihychuk says meat packers don’t need temporary foreign workers because there are tens of thousands of laid-off workers who could be recruited. “In the present circumstance, where […] Read more

You don’t have to go far to find hazards on a farm, and that’s why new workplace safety regulations are inevitable, say farm leaders.

Farm leaders say workers’ compensation coverage is a good thing

Mandatory enrolment could be announced this fall, but leaders 
say cost and paperwork won’t be onerous

Changes to farm safety regulations are expected soon — and that might not be a bad thing for Alberta farmers, says the president of the Alberta Federation of Agriculture. “Workers’ compensation or private insurance really is a great risk management tool for farms nowadays,” said Lynn Jacobson. “That protection against litigation is one of the […] Read more