Farm gate receipts of Abbotsford surpass other known major ag producing areas in North America, including Niagara, Ontario and Fresno County, California, per report.
By Andrew Joseph, Farms.com
According to a just-released report entitled Canada’s Agricultural Hub: An Economic Impact Analysis of Agriculture in Abbotsford, the ag sector within Abbotsford, British Columbia is responsible for $3.83 billion in economic activity and over 16,000 full time equivalent jobs—about 23 percent of all jobs in the city.
Back in 2008 when the first such report was compiled as The Economic Impact of Agriculture in Abbotsford (market-based goods and services), 20 percent of all jobs in Abbotsford were derived from agriculture.
The 2022 report was released on May 25, 2022, by the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce, and was created with help from the University of Fraser Valley and the University of British Columbia.
[Ed. Note: Keep in mind that the Abbotsford region was devastated by flooding late in 2021, and the numbers within the report may not have taken the loss of ag livelihood into effect. The November 2021 floods inundated the Sumas Prairie region of Abbotsford causing at least $100 million in damage.]
Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun stated: “Through the Covid pandemic, the City of Abbotsford fared better than other municipalities, due in large part to our agricultural community. Abbotsford has the most productive agriculture land in Canada on a per hectare basis and we are the number one agriculture producer approaching $1 billion in sales annually. Agriculture is truly the heart of our community.”
From its humble roots as a small town in the early 1900s, the City of Abbotsford is now the fifth-largest community in the Province of British Columbia, with agriculture’s growth lending itself to its economic growth.
The ‘hub’ effect of Abbotsford has increased with 45 percent of its agribusiness activity driven by farms outside of the city—it was only 40 percent back in 2008.
The report also showed that, from 2005 to 2019, the compounded annual growth rate of agriculture (inflation removed) was 3.49 percent—compare that with the compounded annual growth rate of the population at 1.26 percent.
This implies that the ag sector grew twice as fast as the population did in Abbotsford over the past 15 years.
Within the primary agriculture sector (on the farm side), the report noted that farms in the Abbotsford region produced $990 million in farm gate receipts, which in turn was used to purchase $760 million in operating expenses and pay $277 million in wages and income (including depreciation).
When it comes to agri-businesses, the report counted 263 companies in 2020—a 74 percent increase over 149 such businesses identified in 2006. As a disclaimer, the report stated that while much of the growth was in companies that provided supplies and services to the agriculture sector, these companies were for the most part smaller ag supply companies.
But who cares? Ag business is ag business.
The report provided some insight into why things have been good in Abbotsford.
- Doubling of agri-business and value-added sectors is consistent with the increase in the number of businesses providing supplies and services to the agriculture community and the increase in added value to farm products on the farm and in the industrial areas;
- Value added in dairy products and berries made large contributions to the growth of value-added activities;
- Farm production outpacing BC population growth indicates farms are better at meeting the domestic demand or are finding new export markets or both.
The report stated: “Real growth in farm production comes from intensification of production and a shift to production of higher value crops. For example, the acres in blueberry production rose from 3,800 in 2005 to 8,400 in 2020. Much of the new production came from converting pasture or forage land into more intensive blueberry production Another example is in the increase in greenhouses. The acreage in polyhouses and glass greenhouses increased by 45.7 ha between 2012 and 2020, over 80 percent of which was an increase in glass greenhouses growing vegetables This is a 37 percent increase in greenhouse production over this time period. Intensive types of production such as berry production and greenhouse operations often include value added activities such as packaging and processing.”
The report’s findings will be used, moving forward, to better inform the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce’s advocacy on public policy impacting the City’s agricultural industry, as well as related business interests. It will be used as a source from which the Chamber, City, industry, stakeholders, and partners will draw upon to make evidence-based decisions.
To see a pdf of the report in its entirety, visit HERE.