Canadian agriculture eyes $30 billion boost through productivity revival

Dec 08, 2023

By Jean-Paul McDonald

The Canadian agricultural sector stands at the cusp of an opportunity, potentially adding $30 billion to its net cash income over the next decade. This insight comes from a recent Farm Credit Canada (FCC) report, emphasizing the importance of rekindling agricultural productivity growth. 

J.P. Gervais, FCC's chief economist, points out that by achieving productivity levels comparable to those two decades ago, Canadian agriculture could witness significant financial gains. This growth hinges on the adoption of innovative solutions, new technology, and effective data utilization. 

Historically, Canada's agricultural productivity, which measures the efficiency of transforming inputs like labor and land into outputs like crops and livestock, saw steady growth from 1971 to 2000. However, this growth has plateaued and even declined since 2011, mirroring global trends. 

Total factor productivity, which encapsulates the effects of new technologies and efficiency improvements, is a crucial metric in this context. Despite the current slowdown, the Canadian agrifood supply chain, including farm input manufacturers, operators, researchers, and food processors, is poised to rejuvenate this growth. 

Canadian agriculture is a global leader in producing and exporting safe, reliable food, and has a history of embracing technological advancements and sustainable practices. Justine Hendricks, FCC president and CEO, highlights the industry's potential to address the growing global food demand in the report, projected to surge as the world's population nears 10 billion by 2050. 

FCC's support in this endeavor is pivotal, offering comprehensive financing services and resources to aid the industry in enhancing productivity sustainably. This $30 billion opportunity, based on the relationship between total factor productivity, farm product prices, and input prices, is not just a financial target but also a step towards meeting global food requirements efficiently. 

Hendricks expresses confidence in the industry's capacity to improve productivity, with FCC committed to backing these advancements through operational shifts aimed at reducing costs and maximizing efficiency. This approach not only promises economic benefits but also reinforces Canada's position as a leader in the global agricultural arena. 

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