The Canadian primary agricultural sector is a significant contributor to Canada’s economy and international trade. Canadian farmers produce a wide variety of crops (grains, oilseed, horticultural products, pulses and special crops), animal products (beef, pork, dairy products, poultry and eggs) and aquaculture products (salmon, shellfish).
The sector is changing significantly in response to new technologies and the changing demands of consumers. Its evolution continues to be strongly influenced by food safety, plant health and environmental regulations, as well as by new plant and animal production methods and high-tech equipment.
The sector is constantly adapting so that it can remain competitive and continue to thrive in today’s global markets. Canada exports close to half of the food it produces and imports approximately half the food it consumes—it is thus one of the nations in the world that are most dependent on agricultural trade.
Working in Agriculture
Farm sizes vary considerably across the country, depending on the type of production and geographic location.
Employers include primary farming operations and support service providers.
Key occupations include:
Agricultural production: farmers and farm managers, nursery and greenhouse growers and workers, farm supervisors and labourers, and livestock workers
Farm research and support services: farm management consultants, soil and crop specialists, livestock and poultry specialists, veterinarians, agrologists, and agronomists.
Skills & Training
Although many primary agricultural occupations do not require more than high school education, educational and training programs are available in a variety of topics. Some employers will employ workers with limited farming experience and provide on-the-job training. Potential employees will need to possess an interest in agriculture and in working outdoors. Knowledge of mechanics and computers is beneficial. Advancement to supervisory and farm management positions may require related education as well as on-farm experience.
Colleges and universities across the country offer many programs in agriculture, plant science, animal science, crop and livestock production, engineering, agri-business management and related fields. Many programs provide practical training. Apprenticeships are also available for many occupations (fruit growers, dairy herdspersons, equipment technicians, etc.).