In Canada, the world’s most successful program connecting seasonal workers with agricultural employers has kicked into high gear.
Administered by Foreign Agricultural Resource Management Services (F.A.R.M.S.), the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) links approximately 15,000 requests for seasonal workers with jobs at Ontario farms this growing season.
Not only does the 46-year-old program provide a long list of benefits to the workers and the farmers, but also it creates two Canadian jobs in the agrifood industry for every worker employed through SAWP at Ontario agricultural operations, says Ken Forth, president of F.A.R.M.S.
“Governments and agricultural organizations around the world are looking at this program as a model,” Forth says. “For decades, this program has provided Ontario farmers a steady source of reliable labor as a supplement to local labor. At the same time it gives the seasonal workers well-paying employment, benefits and educational opportunities not available at home.”
Seasonal workers employed at Ontario farm operations through SAWP:
Farmers have also realized great benefits from the program for more than 40 years, enabling them to hire staff that would otherwise be extremely challenging to find because of the ongoing shortage of suitable and available local Canadian workers.
“Ontario farmers pay the highest farm worker wages in North America and face intense competition from low-wage competitors,” Forth says. “Without this program, many Ontario farmers simply couldn’t continue to grow fruits and vegetables. They’d stop growing altogether or move into less labor-intensive crops.
More information about Canada’s Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) can be found at www.farmsontario.ca.