Canola generates billions of dollars

A report by the Canola Council of Canada says the Manitoba economy benefits

Canola Council of Canada study says nearly a fifth of that economic activity occurs 
in Manitoba thanks to the province’s strength in food processing

Canola contributed an average of $19.3 billion to the Canadian economy — including $3.4 billion in Manitoba — during the last three crop years, says a report prepared for the Canola Council of Canada.

“Nearly one in every $5 generated by Canada’s biggest cash crop flows to Manitoba,” the organization said in a news release.

Canola’s economic impact has more than doubled in less than a decade and wages linked to the industry have more than tripled, said the study, conducted by LMC International and funded by the canola council and the federal government.

Demand is continuing to grow because of the health benefits of canola oil and its attributes as an animal feed, said council president Patti Miller.

“We’re just getting started,” Miller said. “The potential of this commodity is huge and Canada has the advantage because it’s a world leader in canola production and development. This is a true made-in-Canada success story and an industry worthy of continued investment.”

Although 85 per cent of Canada’s canola is exported either as raw seed or processed oil and meal, the commodity is responsible for about 40,700 Manitoba jobs, including on-farm employment, in related industries and in other sectors, according to the report.

“Because of this province’s strength in food processing, Manitoba enjoys the largest share of the economic activity generated by the processing of canola oil into consumer products such as salad oil, margarine and shortening,” the council said. “LMC estimates that the total economic impact of this value-added activity in Manitoba is $764 million each year.”

Canola’s economic contribution is highest in Western Canada where the crop is mostly grown, but it has a positive impact across Canada, and has created 249,000 direct and indirect jobs, the study says.

Wages in canola-related jobs have been rising faster than the number of new canola-linked jobs.

“Part of the answer is canola generates jobs that pay well,” Miller said. “LNC found the average wage linked to the canola value chain is $75,000.”

In 2012, canola was worth about $8 billion at the farm gate, but added $13 billion to the Canadian economy through the purchase of canola inputs, farm machinery, bins, transportation, processing, and exports.

“The impact is exponential as the effects of this activity resonate throughout the economy,” Miller said.

Canola accounted for a third of farm cash receipts in 2012, and forecasts for this year’s harvest range from 16 million tonnes to nearly 17 million, shattering the canola council’s 2015 production target of 15 million tonnes. However, Miller said the goal is 15 million tonnes of “sustainable production,” which includes farmer profitability.

“It’s great to break through that 15-million-tonne target but that is one year,” she said.

The council is discussing new goals, she added.

“Stay tuned,” Miller said.

About the author

Reporter

Allan Dawson

Allan Dawson is a reporter with the Manitoba Co-operator based near Miami, Man. Covering agriculture since 1980, Dawson has spent most of his career with the Co-operator except for several years with Farmers’ Independent Weekly and before that a Morden-Winkler area radio station.

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