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Survey Tackles Challenges Facing Agriculture


September 3, 2010
By Kristy Nudds


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September 3, 2010 – Farmers and agri-business operators in Southern Ontario are being given a rare chance to voice their concerns and suggestions regarding the challenges facing their industry.

September 3, 2010 – Farmers and agri-business operators in Southern
Ontario are being given a rare chance to voice their concerns and
suggestions regarding the challenges facing their industry.

About 1,500 farmers and 600 businesses are being surveyed across Brant, Norfolk, Oxford, Elgin and Middlesex counties. The survey is being conducted by the Workforce Planning Board of Grand Erie and the Elgin Middlesex Oxford Workforce Planning and Development Board. The $40,000 study is being funded through the Sand Plains Community Development Fund.

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The study’s purpose is to look at emerging labour force trends, along
with skills and training requirements for farms and agri-business
workers.

“This survey is long overdue,” said Clara Siisii, the researcher leading the project. “Very little is known about the workforces on farms and agri-business, let alone the challenges operators face in attracting and keeping skilled employees. Information is crucial to plan for the future.”

Agriculture is big business in Ontario, with $9.65 billion in farm receipts in 2009. More than 84,000 people work in Ontario agriculture, with another 86,000 jobs in the food industry. But agriculture has been hard hit by the recession and other factors, and the number of farms and farmers is shrinking.

Siisii said the study will hopefully identify potential growth areas in agriculture. This, in turn, will shed light on job and career opportunities, and the need for new occupations, skills and training.

To be effective, the study needs the input of people working in agriculture in the five counties. “Farmers are often shy about taking part in surveys, but we need their participation to identify possible solutions to some of the problems they’re facing,” Siisii said.

Hundreds of farmers have already received surveys in the mail. They are being urged to fill out the survey and return them. Surveys are also being sent to agri-businesses, bio-products companies, and colleges and universities offering agricultural programs. Surveys can also be filled out online by going to the homepage of the Workforce Planning Board’s website (www.workforceplanningboard.org).

The Workforce Planning Board and the Elgin Middlesex Oxford Workforce Planning and Development Board are among 21 non-profit organizations in Ontario that play a leadership role in labour force planning.

For more information, contact:
Clara Siisii, Researcher, Workforce Planning Board, 519-756-1116, x222, clara@workforceplanningboard.org
Jill Halyk, executive director, Workforce Planning Board, 519-756-1116, x227 jhalyk@workforceplanningboard.org
Deb Mountenay, executive director, Elgin Middlesex Oxford Planning and Development Board, 519-672-3499 dm@localboard.on.ca