Industry Significance . . . Some Facts
Agriculture and food production is an important economic contributor
to the British Columbia economy. There are very many people in British Columbia involved in producing food and non-food products for people
who live here and in other parts of the world.
There are a lot of people besides farmers who work in British Columbia who
are involved in the food industry: truckers, equipment dealers,
machinery manufacturers, scientists, carton/package suppliers,
restaurant workers, food store workers, and many others. These
people are all around you.
Agriculture and Food Production
- British Columbia's agricultural products generate receipts
to farmers of more than $2.2 billion each year.
- More than 200 different commodities are produced on about 22,000 agricultural farms.
- The annual commercial fisheries catch of more than 80 species is valued at over
- Aquaculture production occurs on more than 700 sites in both saltwater and
freshwater environments throughout the province.
- The aquaculture sector generates nearly $300 million in sales of more than
20 different fish, shellfish and aquatic plant species.
- Salmon, dairy products, floriculture and beef represent the most important products
of British Columbia's entire agri-food sector.
Food Processing and Retail Sales
- Food retail sales in British Columbia are estimated to be
over $18 billion each year.
- Nearly 1,000 processing businesses in British Columbia take the raw product
and produce a wide variety of foods and beverages for the marketplace.
- The activities of processing, transportation, storage, distribution
and retailing increase the value of British Columbia's primary food products
by about 2 or 3 times to about $6 billion each year.
- The food industry generates about 260,000 jobs for British
Columbians, directly and indirectly, nearly 14 percent of the
employed labour force of the province.
British Columbia's Products Sell to Other Provinces and Countries
- British Columbia exports to over 100 countries around the world many agricultural
and fish products valued at over $2.1 billion.
- Sales to other Canadian provinces are valued at another $1.3
Taking Care of British Columbia's Land and Water . . .
British Columbia's total provincial area (land and fresh water) is about 94.78
million hectares. That's bigger than many countries in the world.
But, less than 3% of that is suited to agriculture production.
That means we must make sure we make best use of every available
hectare and ensure it's preserved to produce food and other agricultural
products for future generations.
British Columbia's land suited to agriculture and food production
is included in Agricultural Land Reserves (ALR). These reserves
were established by the British Columbia government in the early 1970's. This
includes land that is privately owned or owned by the government
(Crown land). This program ensures that land suited to agriculture
is not developed or used for other purposes and therefore provides
some guarantee that it is available for food production for future
Farmers today are using advanced techniques to make the best use
of their land and use the least amount of chemicals to control
pests. They use scientific methods, sophisticated machines and
computers to put on the right amount of fertilizers, use good
bugs to control bad bugs, formulate the right amount of feed for
all types of livestock and fish, maintain healthy animals and
fish, manage livestock and fish wastes, irrigate crops and drain
land, and harvest crops.
Computers are becoming more common as a tool to not only operate
sophisticated machines and livestock feeding equipment, but also
to help farmers manage their business and make marketing decisions.
According to both the 1991 and 1996 Censuses of Agriculture, British Columbia
had the highest percentage of farmers listing computers among
These sophisticated, modern techniques being used by today's farmers
and processors are giving each of us some of the best and highest
quality food and agricultural products in the world.