2024-03-11T17:27:47-04:00May 17, 2023|

How to find agriculture jobs in Canada as a newcomer

Each year, thousands of foreign workers are drawn to Canada’s farming sector. As a foreign resident, getting a farming job in Canada can be a great opportunity to multiply your earnings, enjoy a good quality of life, and contribute to the growth of Canada’s agriculture industry. 

Although the primary agricultural sector continues to grow, Canada faces a significant shortage of farm workers. Primary agriculture, which is work performed on farms, nurseries, or greenhouses, contributes to 1.6 per cent of Canada’s GDP and employs over 241,500 people. Over 40 per cent of agricultural workers are expected to retire by 2033 and, according to a recent report, Canada requires 30,000 immigrants to fill urgent and essential roles in the farming sector. If you’re a foreign worker with farming experience, moving to Canada can open the door to new opportunities. In this article, we provide information on how to find agriculture jobs in Canada as a newcomer and the process of moving to Canada temporarily or permanently as a farm worker. 

In this article:

Which farming and agriculture jobs are in demand in Canada?

While there’s no shortage of opportunities in the agricultural sector in Canada, demand for certain roles may be higher in specific provinces. Here’s a list of priority farming and agriculture jobs that are in demand in various provinces in Canada:

Job title National Occupational Code (NOC) Provinces with high demand
Butchers – retail and wholesale
  • NOC 63201
Meat cutters and fishmongers – retail and wholesale
  • NOC 65202
  • New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan
Agricultural service contractors and farm supervisors
  • NOC 82030
Specialized livestock workers and farm machinery operators
  • NOC 84120
  • Alberta, Ontario, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island
Livestock labourers
  • NOC 85100
  • Alberta, Ontario, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island
Harvesting labourers
  • NOC 85101
  • Alberta, Ontario, Prince Edward Island
Nursery and greenhouse labourers
  • NOC 85103
  • Ontario, Prince Edward Island
Fish and seafood plant workers
  • NOC 94142
  • Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island
Labourers in food and beverage processing
  • NOC 95106
  • Nova Scotia
Labourers in fish and seafood processing
  • NOC 95107
  • Prince Edward Island
Industrial butchers and meat cutters, poultry preparers and related workers
  • NOC 94141
  • Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta

The above-listed occupations are considered essential for the continued growth of Canada’s agriculture and livestock industry. To meet the demand for these skills, the IRCC prioritizes work permits for applicants with experience in these occupations. 

However, other agriculture occupations not on this list, such as agricultural managers (NOC 80020), also have high demand in the provinces of Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and parts of British Columbia.

Note Icon  Note: Read our article on in-demand jobs in Canada for more information on occupations that are sought after in different provinces and territories.

How much money do farm workers make in Canada?

According to the government’s Job Bank, the median wage for most primary agriculture jobs ranges from $16 to $18 per hour. However, many farm occupations, such as fruit picking, are seasonal in Canada, and it may be hard to find year-round employment.

Specialist workers, farm machinery operators (NOC 84120) and industrial butchers (NOC 94141) make a median income of $20 to $23 per hour, with hourly wages being as high as $34 for experienced specialists in some parts of Canada. 

Agricultural managers (NOC 80020) earn a median wage of $24.48 with salaries up to $37.50 per hour in some provinces.

It’s important to note that many employers provide accommodation to seasonal agricultural workers. Canadians typically spend between $800 to $1,800 on housing costs each month, so access to free accommodation can significantly reduce your living expenses in Canada. Be sure to ask potential employers about the benefits you’ll be entitled to before accepting a job offer.

How to find agriculture jobs in Canada

Canada’s agriculture sector faces a severe shortage of workers, and the situation is expected to worsen in the coming years with a large percentage of existing farmers retiring. Agriculture jobs don’t just include farm labour, but also jobs in quality control, packaging, supply chain, marketing, finance, and more.

Although there are enough opportunities for foreign workers, the job market and recruitment process may be very different from what you’re used to back home. As a result, finding a job in the farming sector in Canada as a foreign resident or newcomer may not always be easy. Here are some tips to help you find agriculture jobs in Canada:

Understand the agriculture job market

The demand for agricultural jobs differs across Canada. The Prairie provinces, include Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Manitoba, and are known for crop and pig farming. Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia on the east coast of Canada as well as British Columbia on the west coast, have large commercial fishing industries. Most of Canada’s fruit industry is located in British Columbia and, in Canada’s central provinces, Ontario, and Quebec.

Be sure to research which parts of Canada have the most demand for agriculture jobs you’re interested in. It’s also a good idea to understand what skills employers are looking for in your field and when the recruitment season starts.

Look for job listings on online portals

Job portals such as Job Bank, Farm Jobs Canada, Monster, Indeed, and LinkedIn are great places to look for available opportunities. Read the job descriptions to get a better understanding of the work you’ll be expected to do and the skills and experience you require. Many job listings will also tell you whether the job is full-time or seasonal, the pay range, and the benefits you’ll receive if you’re hired for the role.

Sign up with farm worker recruitment agencies

Several employment agencies specialize in recruitment for farming jobs in Canada, such as GreenTech Resources Ltd. and Agricultural Employment Alberta Ltd. Some recruitment agencies may also be able to help foreign residents with their work permit applications. It’s important to note that, in Canada, recruitment agencies do not charge job candidates or applicants a fee. They get paid by the employer once the position is filled.

Create a Canadian-style resume

The Canadian resume format may be very different from the one used in your home country. Employers in Canada typically want to see your achievements and skills on your resume, rather than just the job responsibilities you had in previous roles. Some Canadian employers use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to shortlist resumes that best match the job description, so be sure to customize your resume with keywords from the job listing.

Build a professional network

Networking is part of Canada’s work culture, and it’s a great way to find job openings that aren’t advertised online. You can build your network in Canada by connecting with people you know directly or indirectly who’ve moved to Canada to work in the agriculture section. You may also be able to contact Canadian farm operators, professionals at agri-food companies, and agricultural recruiters on LinkedIn. After making an initial connection, you can request a coffee chat to learn more about the agriculture industry and hiring processes. The idea is to nurture meaningful relationships with professionals in the industry so you can leverage those connections to get referrals for jobs.

Prepare for job interviews

Once your resume is selected, you may need to clear multiple interview rounds before getting a job offer. Usually, the interview process will focus on evaluating your skills, experience, and suitability for the job. To prepare for your job interview, start with research about farming practices in Canada as well as the employer or company. You should also practice your responses to commonly asked interview questions such as “Why do you want to work here?”, “Tell me about yourself”, and more.

Download the free Career Guide for newcomers to Canada

Working in Canada temporarily as a farm worker

If you want to come to Canada temporarily to work in the agriculture sector, you’ll need a valid work permit. A work permit is a temporary residency permit that allows you to live and work in Canada for a fixed time. As a foreign farm worker, you cannot work in Canada unless you have a work permit. 

There are two types of work permits in Canada: open work permits and employer-specific work permits. You require a Canadian job offer to qualify for an employer-specific work permit, and this document only allows you to work for one employer at one location in Canada. On the other hand, an open work permit does not require a job offer but is only granted under specific conditions. Here’s how you can work in Canada temporarily as a farm worker:

Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP)

Many farming activities in Canada slow down after the summer months, and typically, job opportunities in agriculture are limited in winter. To encourage temporary foreign workers to come to Canada to perform essential seasonal farm work, the government has started a program called Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP).

What is the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP)?

The SAWP allows Canadian employers to hire temporary foreign workers (TFWs) for certain primary agriculture jobs when there’s a shortage of domestic workers. Employers can hire TFWs for up to eight months, between January 1 and December 15, and must offer workers at least 240 hours of work within a six-week period.

Applicants who qualify under the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program receive an open work permit, which allows them to work for more than one SAWP employer in any location in Canada. SAWP work permits are typically valid for a maximum period of eight months.

Who is eligible for the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program?

To qualify for the SAWP, you must meet all the following conditions:

  • Be a citizen of a participating country, such as Mexico or Caribbean countries like Trinidad or Jamaica.
  • Be recruited by the government of your home country (not Canada), and 
  • Plan to work for Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program employers in Canada.

Employer-specific work permits for farm workers

If you don’t qualify for SAWP, don’t worry. You still have the option of applying for an employer-specific work permit. You’ll need a Canadian job offer to qualify for a work permit. However, before a Canadian employer can offer you a job, they need a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) to demonstrate that there aren’t any Canadian citizens or permanent residents available to fill the position.

Given the severe shortage of agricultural workers in Canada, many Canadian employers are actively hiring temporary foreign workers to fill open positions. Once you receive a job offer and a copy of the positive LMIA from your employer in Canada, you can submit your work permit application. 

Depending on the country you’re applying from, it may take a few weeks or months for your work permit application to be processed. You can check the estimated processing time for your country on the government website. However, if your job offer is a priority occupation (refer to the section on Which farming and agricultural jobs are in demand in Canada), you may be able to get your work permit application fast-tracked.

Moving to Canada permanently as a farm worker: PR programs

If you wish to settle in Canada permanently, you can also explore the permanent residence (PR) programs the country offers. Here are some of the PR programs farm workers and other agricultural workers may qualify for:

Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) streams for farm workers

Provincial Nominee Programs allow provincial governments to select PR applicants with skills and experience that are in demand in the province. Each province and territory (except Quebec and Nunavut) has its PNP program, with several different streams. 

Provinces with large agricultural sectors, such as Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan have separate agriculture-related Provincial Nominee Program streams. These programs are aimed at experienced farm workers and operators from around the world who want to invest in and operate their own farms in Canada. Here’s an overview of the most relevant PNP streams:

Alberta AAIP Farm Stream

The Alberta Advantage Immigration Program (AAIP) has a Farm Stream for entrepreneurial farmers who have the financial resources and farm management experience to set up or purchase a farm in Alberta. To be eligible, you must:

  • Must prove that you have prior farm management skills (training or experience).
  • Commit to a minimum investment of $500,000 in a primary production farming business in Alberta.
  • Submit a proposed business plan with investment details to AAIP. The plan must be financially viable and in line with Alberta’s agricultural needs.

Manitoba Farm Investor Pathway

The Farm Investor Pathway (FIP) is a stream under Manitoba’s PNP program. This pathway is meant for individuals with prior farm management experience who have the funds to establish and run a farm in rural Manitoba. To be eligible, you must:

  • Have at least three years of farm ownership and operation experience.
  • Have a net worth of at least $500,000.
  • Commit to a minimum investment of $300,000 to establish a farming business in rural Manitoba.
  • Submit a farming business plan.
  • Visit Manitoba to conduct business research.
  • Be proficient in English or French.

Saskatchewan Farm Owner and Operator

The Farm Owner and Operator category is part of the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP). The program includes two streams:

Farm Owner and Operator

To be eligible for this stream, you must:

  • Prove that you have at least three years of experience operating a farm.
  • Show a net worth of at least $500,000. 
  • Submit a proposal for commercial farming activity in Saskatchewan with plans to invest at least $150,000, with a projected revenue of at least $10,000 a year.
  • Sign a Performance Agreement to purchase and actively operate a farm.
  • Put forward a refundable cash deposit of $75,000 which will be returned to you once the terms of the performance agreement are met. (If not, the money goes to the province.)
  • Make an exploratory visit to Saskatchewan.
Farm Owner and Operator – Young Farmer

To be eligible for this stream, you must:

  • Prove that you have at least three years of experience operating a farm.
  • Be under the age of 40.
  • Show a net worth of at least $300,000. 
  • Submit a proposal for commercial farming activity in Saskatchewan, with a projected revenue of at least $10,000 a year.
  • Sign a Performance Agreement to purchase and actively operate a form.
  • Put forward a refundable cash deposit of $75,000 which will be returned to you once the terms of the performance agreement are met. (If not, the money goes to the province.)
  • You or your spouse must have employment skills, based on education and experience, to supplement your farming income.

You may also be eligible for other immigration programs, besides the Provincial Nominee Program. Some of the federal permanent residence programs you can explore include Express Entry, Atlantic Immigration Program (AIP), Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP)

As a foreign resident with experience in the agriculture industry, you may be able to find suitable jobs in Canada. Canada’s agricultural sector is not only a significant contributor to the economy but also helps keep food prices in check. However, Canada faces a significant shortfall of farm workers, and the country relies on foreign workers and immigrants to bridge these labour shortages. Depending on the type of work you’re looking for, you may be able to find seasonal or full-time jobs or invest in your own farm. If you plan to settle in Canada, you may be eligible for permanent residence programs as well.