By Allison Finnamore
Published: FCC Express, April 5, 2013

Photo credit: FarmStart

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada has released a report showing the strong contribution of the agriculture and agri-food sector to Canada’s economy.

“Farm performance overall continues to remain strong as the industry becomes more competitive, innovative, and profitable,” says Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz. “The report shows that the agriculture and agri-food sector continues to be internationally focused, which is why our government continues to place such a strong emphasis on opening new and maintaining existing markets.”

Using historical data up to 2011, the report, An Overview of the Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food System 2013, shows that the farm and food sector displayed robust performance in 2011, enjoying high farm income levels, record levels of government investment in agriculture-related research and development, strong market receipts and strong performance of agricultural exports.

The report also found that the agriculture and agri-food system continues to make a significant contribution to Canada’s gross domestic product and employment, directly providing one-in-eight jobs, employing 2.1 million people and accounting for eight per cent of total GDP, or $101.1 billion.

As well, the report found that shifting consumer and societal demands are influencing changes throughout the agriculture and agri-food system. Consumers are seeking more variety, more convenience, and more environmentally friendly and healthier food choices, as well as food that reflects consumer values (like organic and halal products).

Relative to other countries, the report found that Canadians have some of the lowest food costs in relation to personal household expenditures in the world. Spending on food and non-alcoholic beverages from stores accounted for just under 10 per cent of the total in Canada, which is higher than the United States (6.6 per cent) but lower than France (13.5 per cent).

The report found that crop and livestock production are changing to reflect consumer demands and changing market conditions. Non-durum wheat has been overtaken by canola, and planted soybean area increased between 2006 and 2011.

The report is an annual publication and provides basic information about the agriculture and agri-food sector, tracks how the sector performs over time and reflects the challenges and changes that have occurred in recent years. It reviews in detail the whole value chain, covering not only primary agriculture and input suppliers but also food and beverage processing, food distribution, consumer trends and government investment.

AAFC also recently released the Farm Income Forecast and the Medium Term Outlook. Together, these three reports provide a comprehensive historical profile of the sector, as well as a financial and market outlook for producers, industry and stakeholders, and governments as they plan for the years ahead.

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