Since the end of WWII, Canada has emerged as an agricultural production powerhouse due to a series of reforms and key market conditions. Improved transportation, reduced trade barriers, and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) made Canada a top exporter of oilseeds (i.e. canola), grains, pork, beef, and other livestock products. Despite trade squabbles over the future of NAFTA, Canada enjoys a positive trade balance on pork and beef.
As in the US, Canadian farm size continues to grow due to farm consolidation and increased industrialization of farming operations. More than one-fifth of Canadian farms have incorporated as older farmers have struggled to pass ownership off to children who are increasingly uninterested in farming. Even though almost half of Canadian farmers are older than 55, incorporated farms remain predominantly family-owned and operated.
The end of the Canadian Wheat Board’s control over exports in 2012 revived an industry long working to make its mark on the global stage. Canada would soon adopt more liberal agricultural policies after selling $7.2 billion of grain to over 70 countries in 2012, the third largest wheat sale in its history. The largest volumes of grains, mainly canola and wheat, go to Japan, China, the European Union, and Mexico.
In 2016, the agricultural sector contributed $111.9 billion to Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP), accounting for 6.7 percent of the total. With droughts affecting crop yields and new farming opportunities opening up due to thawing tundra, climate change will reshape Canadian agriculture in ways not seen in more than a century. As the world increasingly focuses on Canada as a test case for durable agricultural profitability in uncertain trade, climate, and market environments, Gro Intelligence provides the data and context to stay ahead of developments there.