SASKATOON, Oct. 21, 2013 /CNW/ - Farmers of North America (FNA)
announced today it has partnered with ILC Canada to provide FNA members
with a full service solution to access Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW)
under federal programs to fill gaps in the farm labour market.
Shortages in domestic farm labour are widely documented in Canada and
have been the subject of numerous news stories, particularly in the
farm press. The Western Producer, Grainews, Manitoba Cooperator,
Ontario Farmer and many others have provided strong reporting on the
subject over the past few years. There have also been at least two
private studies demonstrating the need for temporary foreign workers on
FNA conducted its own consultations with its members including a direct
"Expression of Interest" exercise where members detailed their needs.
The response was rapid and clear: a program is needed that reduces the
burden on individual farms to meet the regulatory and recruitment
Acknowledging that some economic sectors have been the subject of
controversy over their use or misuse of the Temporary Foreign Worker
program, FNA Vice President Bill Martin said, "FNA will not allow
farmers to be penalized for the bad behaviour of others."
FNA found that while the need for access to temporary workers is well
accepted, there is concern that public reaction could be coloured by
the recent controversies, and that those controversies have made it
even more challenging for individual farm operations to consider
implementing a TFW plan.
By launching a program through FNA, the policy, communications and
technical resources will be available to relieve farmers of having to
deal with such issues.
"If you look in the agriculture space, there is really no one else who
could do this. Retailers can't afford the divided focus and while farm
organizations have devoted resources to address the policy issues, they
generally don't want to become commercial services," Martin said. "And,
frankly, a lot of people are uneasy about being directly involved in
something that has a controversial past. Which means if the farm
business alliance doesn't do it, it just won't get done."
"There may be some who, for ideological purposes, oppose any foreign
workers being involved on Canadian farms," Martin said, "but the fact
remains that there is a labour shortage in almost every sector of
agriculture and this program provides real benefits to the foreign
workers themselves and the Canadian economy."
Martin noted that even with access to the federal program, Canadian
farmers face a significant competitive disadvantage when it comes to
farm labour. It is widely reported that illegal foreign workers
constitute a major proportion of U.S. farm labour and "Guest Worker"
programs in Europe provide significantly lower wages.
"While FNA does not want to see similar situations becoming part of
Canadian agriculture, we should recognize the economic reality
represented by the widespread use by Canada's agriculture competitors
of cheap and under-regulated foreign workers," said Martin.
In contrast, the Canadian program sets comparatively high minimum wages
and depending on specific circumstances, imposes other costs and
obligations that may include paying for airfare and accommodation.
"To be clear," Martin emphasized, "this is not an inexpensive option for
farmers. Anyone who might claim Canadian farmers want to use the
program to get 'cheap labour' are either misinformed or flatly
malicious. While it may not be inexpensive on the face of it, it is
clearly a necessity given the huge cost of lost production that some
farmers face as a result of an inadequate labour supply."
The program will be delivered by ILC Canada, a noted private recruitment
agency with long experience in working with the federal Temporary
Foreign Worker program, including a direct relationship with a fully
certified immigration consulting service. FNA will provide member
services, including monitoring quality of service, and such media
relations as may be required.
Details of the program may be found at www.fna.ca/TFW
*Studies noted are by PRA Research Associates and the Canadian
Agriculture Human Resource Council
About Farmers of North America
Farmers of North America (FNA) is a business alliance of farmers
dedicated to improving farm profitability. FNA is the first and
currently the only organization with improving farm profitability as
By building the farm business alliance Members achieve greater market
power, create competition in the input supply sector and when necessary
create entire new companies to involve Members in the supply chain.
FNA Members also improve their profitability through participation in
FNA-negotiated programs and services and through discounts from a
national network of preferred suppliers.
FNA is headquartered in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and has a network of
staff across the country serving more than 10,000 Members from coast to
SOURCE: Farmers of North America
For further information:
For media inquiries, please call:
Bill Martin, Vice President
Farmers of North America