Farming stabilizes Abbotsford economy: study

A report by the British Columbia government and Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce finds one in four private-sector jobs supported by the ag sector in B.C.’s fifth-largest city.

Provincial Agriculture Minister Ron Cantelon on Tuesday released a report that shows farming in the Abbotsford area provides 11,300 full-time jobs. As well, it supports one in every four private sector jobs and one in five jobs overall.

Farm-based jobs, including wages paid to family members, average over $28,000 per year and agri-business jobs average $49,000 per year, the province said. Paid wages on-farm, which includes wages to family members, averaged $16 per hour.

“The farm workforce has changed from what is often perceived as low-paid seasonal work to more full-time work at competitive wage rates,” the province said.

With $557 million in farm gate sales, Abbotsford is posting “the highest farm gate sales in British Columbia and the largest farm gate sales per hectare in Canada,” the province said.

Provincially, Abbotsford’s total farm gate sales were over twice as high as in the runner-up community, Chilliwack — while nationally, Abbotsford’s farm gate sales per hectare more than tripled those in the runner-up community, the Niagara Regional District in Ontario.

The value added of processing food grown in Abbotsford is about $128 million, while the farming community itself generates $1.8 billion in annual expenditures within the local economy, the report noted.

Out of the various farming and agribusiness sectors, poultry processing was by far the largest for the Abbotsford area in B.C.’s Fraser Valley, with $193.4 million in total revenue and a payroll of over $17 million spread over 440 full-time equivalent jobs.

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