A recent report by RBC says that in 2033, 40% of Canadian farm operators will retire, placing agriculture on the cusp of one of the biggest labour and leadership transitions in the country’s history.

Over the same period, a shortfall of 24,000 general farm, nursery, and greenhouse workers are expected to emerge.

They also found that 66% of producers do not have a succession plan in place.

The report includes a three-point plan for growth, with goals set for the short, medium, and long term.

Short Term

The report suggests that Canada has one of the worst shortages of agricultural workers in the world, falling behind only the United States and the Netherlands.

They say that an upcoming demographic shift could exacerbate the problem, with 60% of farm operators being over 65 years of age in 10 years.

In order to solve the demographic woes, the report calls for an increase of 30,000 farm operators through immigration in the next 10 years.

Medium Term

The report also calls for more students to be enrolled in agriculture programs in order to meet the growing demand. 

It points to an earlier move back in the early 00s to introduce more cross-discipline courses, which saw admissions grow over 40% since 2003 and has put Canada near the top at OECD enrolment in agricultural education.

While some schools have taken that cross-discipline step further, the report makes suggestions such as MBA programs offering agribusiness courses and more cross-disciplinary approaches into fields such as engineering and social sciences.

Long Term

The final piece of the report touches on automation and how greater funding in R&D can be beneficial, citing 50% of farms investing in new technology noted a decrease in costs.

More innovation in the tech sector for agriculture would increase efficiency, potentially offsetting some of the problems with a reduced workforce.

The expenditure has been lagging behind other countries, with 2020 showing a figure of 1.4% of expenditures as a percentage of revenues for Canada with foreign countries averaging out to 4.6%


The report ends by saying that while Canada is facing a skills and labour crisis, the right approach can turn that into a generational advantage.