Dairy and poultry creating more jobs than mining or forestry
(NC) British Columbia may be known for its natural resources, not cows and chickens, but recent economic numbers show that agriculture is a bigger employer than mining or forestry.
The province's farm sector has been hit with falling employment, shedding 9,400 jobs between 2007 and 2011, a 27 per cent drop. But dairy, poultry and egg producers have been bucking the trend and driving job gains.
A new report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) shows that dairy, poultry and egg farms have added 3,350 workers to their payrolls in the same period, up 12 per cent to 31,726. In comparison, the mining sector employs 24,700 and forestry/logging 14,000.
The PwC report says that this growth is possible because of the stability in the dairy and poultry sectors, crediting supply management, the system that oversees production and food safety. Under supply management, marketing boards in each sector work with industry and government to set production levels that meet demand and ensure farmers receive fair and predictable returns, avoiding the boom-bust price swings that characterize farmed products.
Weakness in some agriculture sectors combined with growth in dairy, poultry and eggs means that now nearly half of all farm jobs – 45 per cent – are in supply-managed sectors.
The PwC report, “Economic Impact of British Columbia's dairy, chicken, turkey, hatching egg and table eggs industries – 2011 update,” estimates that the five supply-managed sectors directly add $1.6 billion to provincial GDP, supporting total economic activity of $5.6 billion.
The Bank of Montreal also recently released a report that noted that supply management is playing a key role in the success of B.C.'s agriculture sector. Farming in the province is “a stand-out industry – particularly in the supply-managed areas of poultry, dairy and eggs,” wrote BMO senior economist Robert Kavcic in BMO Blue Book: British Columbia Growth Expected to Outpace Canada's by 2014 as U.S. Demand Picks Up.
The past decade has been turbulent for the province's agriculture sector, which trailed the overall growth rate for the economy for all but three years.
“The supply managed farm sectors are providing much needed stability and job growth,” says Al Sakalauskas, a spokesperson for the B.C. Dairy, Egg and Poultry Industries. “Now that we account for nearly half of all employment, it has never been more important to ensure supply management remains at the core of B.C.'s agriculture policies.”
The vast majority of the dairy and poultry farms are family run. In 2011, they produced:
Milk: 666 million litres;
Chicken: 154 million kg;
Table eggs: 70.4 million dozen;
Turkey: 24.9 million kg;
Hatching eggs (that supply chicken farmers): 8.7 million dozen.
“While supply management is anchoring B.C.'s agriculture sector, my greatest source of pride is knowing that we are ensuring all families in the province have access to locally produced, affordable, top quality food,” says Sakalauskas.
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