Media Contacts

Dave Townsend

Media Relations
Ministry of Agriculture and Food
250 356-7098
250 889-5945 (mobile)


Facts about B.C.'s agriculture sector and mental health
Updated July 4, 2023
  • The B.C. agriculture, food and seafood sector had combined revenues of more than $18 billion in 2021, and were 12% higher than the previous record of $16.1 billion in 2020.
  • B.C. exported a record $5.1 billion in agriculture, seafood, and processed food and beverage products to 151 different international markets in 2021.
  • B.C. produces more than 200 primary agriculture products and about 100 fish, shellfish and marine plant species.
  • In 2021, there were more than 79,000 agriculture, seafood, and food and beverage processing sector jobs in B.C.
  • Research has found that Canadian farmers face higher levels of mental distress than the general public and are generally less likely to seek help.
  • A 2021 study found that 76% of Canadian farmers are classified as experiencing perceived moderate or high stress scores and one in four have thoughts of suicide.
  • The $15-million provincial grant for the Agriculture and Food Workforce Development Initiative comes from the Canada-British Columbia Labour Market Development Agreement.
  • Under the agreement, the Province receives more than $300 million each year to fund employment services and supports, including those provided through the 102 WorkBC centres throughout B.C.
Projects supported by the Agriculture and Food Workforce Development Initiative

Recruitment, Retention and Innovative Skills and Training Program

  • Adopting new innovative skills and training programs for the agriculture and food sector to recruit and train workers;
  • Development/delivery of tools, resources or technologies that support worker recruitment, retention and/or co-ordination of seasonal workers;
  • Pilot initiatives that reduce an identified barrier to participation in the workforce (e.g. transportation, flexible scheduling).
  • The program will open for applications in winter 2023-24.

Indigenous Food Systems and Agriculture Skills and Training Program          

  • Skills and training programs to increase Indigenous participation in agriculture and food processing and/or to support the revitalization of cultural and economic food harvesting, production and processing practices;
  • Increased capacity for Indigenous participation, leadership, and Indigenous-led training and extension services in the agriculture and food sector, and community economic development initiatives.
  • The program will be open for applications on Sept. 12, 2023.

Student Summer Farm Work Bursary Program

  • Increasing youth employment in the agriculture sector through a tuition-incentive program to support summer labour needs.
  • The program will open for applications in winter 2023-24.

Regenerative Agriculture Practices and Technology Adoption Training

  • Ensuring employers and employees have access to training resources and curriculum to support the adoption and implementation of regenerative practices and/or agritech.
  • Existing resources are updated and new resources are created to support regenerative practices and new technology.
  • The program will open for applications in spring 2024.

Mental-health wraparound supports

  • Improving awareness and access to mental-health and wellness support services for employees and employers in the agriculture sector;
  • New worker mental health and well-being initiatives established in B.C.;
  • Increasing uptake of available support services from agriculture workforce (for both employees and employers).
  • The new AgSafe program is underway.

Workforce Analysis and Planning Program

  • Improving the understanding of issues and barriers that face the agriculture labour market;
  • Developing targeted strategies and implementation plans based on existing labour market analysis, data, strategies and plans with clearly defined outcomes to address and assess labour-market issues.
  • The program will open for applications on July 11, 2023.