GFM Network News


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


The devil is in the detail when it comes to workplace rules

Farms aren’t like other workplaces and regulations need to reflect that, say farm leaders

Doug Chorney has some advice for Alberta farmers who are nervous about upcoming changes to health and safety regulations: “Don’t be scared of having the conversation.” “You’re better off having the conversation with government rather than just waiting for regulations to come in without your input,” said Chorney, past president of Keystone Agricultural Producers, Manitoba’s […] Read more

Brenda Schoepp with a group of women she met during her trip to India.

India is a country of two agricultures

The nation is a world player in food, but full of contrasts and contradictions

My visit to India a few years ago covered a lot of agricultural ground — a 1,500-kilometre loop starting in Ludhiana and ending in New Delhi. Our team — nine young agricultural professionals from five countries — experienced a transportation strike, a hit-and-run, watched a car slide off the road and into the jungle, and […] Read more