Sector Spotlight: Agri-Business

The agriculture and agri-food sectors are defined as a distinct group of farms and companies that grow, harvest, process and distribute food, beverages and bio products. Often, the term agri-business is used to describe companies that supply goods and services to the agriculture sector – equipment dealers, feed and seed suppliers and veterinarians. The Durham Region agri-business sector supports agriculture, agriculture production, food processing and distribution, food service and food retail.

Agri-Business encompasses the entire agriculture supply chain, from the process of creating a product, to the sale of the product to the consumer. According to Statistics Canada (2017a), the agricultural industry, involves only the growing of crops, raising of animals and aquaculture and related support activities such as the harvesting of crops. However, agri-business includes the processing and distribution of agricultural goods, including the manufacturing of food products, retail stores and restaurants that serve local food. Examples of agri-business establishments include farms, pick-your-own agritourism, abattoirs and specialty food stores.

  • there has been a 17.8 % growth in the Durham Region for total gross farm receipts between 2011 to 2016, indicating that there is an increase in the local agri-business sector due to more sales.
  • According to the Census of Agriculture (2016), many farms do report technology use. Nearly 700 farms reported computers and laptops for farm management and over 500 farms reported smartphone or tablet use for farm management
  • The industry that employs the most persons in agri-business are full-service restaurants and limited service eating places, which employ 14,385 persons.
  • Most Durham Region-based businesses in the agri-business sector are food services and drinking places, encompassing restaurants, cafes and fast-food eating places.
  • Most workers (78%) in Durham Region agri-business by industry have at minimum, a certificate, diploma or degree. A significant proportion of workers have a secondary school diploma or equivalent (44%), followed by a college or non-university certificate or diploma (19%).
  • For industries such as food manufacturing, the age proportions are relatively similar, but for farms, most workers are 55 years and over. Certain industries such as food services and drinking places have higher proportions of youth (15 to 24 years), likely due to the part-time or temporary nature of most positions and the lesser work experience required for employment in these industries.

The DWA is one of a network of 26 Workforce Planning Board areas across the province.

Workforce Planning Boards gather intelligence about the supply of labour and the demand side of the local labour market by working with employers to identify and meet their current and emerging skills needs. The primary role of Workforce Planning Boards is to help improve understanding of and coordinate community responses to labour market issues and needs.