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Manitoba Pork GM Addresses Labour Crunch

A shortage of labour is a problem facing all of agriculture.

The Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) reports that over 40 percent of farm operations indicated they did not have sufficient staff in 2020.

Manitoba Pork General Manager Cam Dahl says the number was even higher in the pork sector, with over 50 percent of pork producers not being able to fill all the positions they need.

"The availability of labour is something that's really becoming a bottleneck to growth," he commented. "It's something that collectively, we need to address in agriculture, we need to address here in Manitoba if we're going to see the industry grow and expand."

Dahl says the root causes of the agricultural labour shortage are many.

"At the beginning is a shrinking rural population and a reduction in the number of farm family members wanting to carry on in the business. Combine this with difficulties experienced by all parts of the value chain in convincing urban Canadians to take on jobs that are often located in rural Canada and which are often, erroneously, viewed as unskilled. Accessing foreign workers in a timely manner is complicated, challenging, and often out of the reach of many independent agricultural operations."

Dahl says all of agriculture needs to face this problem together.

"Fractions between sectors or within value chains will result in overall policy failure. Resolution will not be found by a single industry segment or company. Agriculture needs to deliver a unified message to federal, provincial, and municipal governments on the need for practical solutions."

He notes the private sector needs to work with government and education institutions to build the technical training programs that are needed to fill the growing labour gap. Dahl adds increased engagement by Canadians must be part of the solution.

CAHRC reports indicate that in 2017 labour shortages cost agriculture 2.9 billion dollars in lost revenues.

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