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Cows, Chickens dominate BC farming

(NC) — The province’s chicken, turkey, dairy and egg farmers now account for nearly half of all agriculture output and jobs, says a new study by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

Historically, the dairy and poultry sectors have represented about a quarter of all farm output and jobs in B.C.

Total employment in B.C. agriculture fell by 9,400 jobs from 2007 to 2011. In the meantime, dairy and poultry farmers created more than 3,350 jobs during that span, to 31,726, or 45 per cent of total agriculture employment, says the PwC’s study “Economic impact of British Columbia’s dairy, chicken, turkey, hatching egg and table egg industries.”

The key differentiator is the system of supply management, which oversees all of Canada’s poultry and dairy production. Farmers across the provinces work with government and industry to set output levels to prevent boom-bust price swings and ensure farmers receive fair returns.

“Farming is a tough business because it doesn’t take much over-production to send producer prices crashing, so bumper crops are not always good news,” says Dave Eto, a spokesperson for the B.C. Dairy, Egg, and Poultry Industries. “For more than 40 years, supply management has created a stable environment for farmers, and as the PwC report shows, it has allowed them to invest in jobs while other farming sectors face uncertainty.”

Overall, the dairy and poultry sectors add $1.6 billion directly to B.C.’s GDP and underpin $5.6 billion in total economic activity.