Economic impact study reveals BC’s dairy industry continues to grow, evolve

A 2020 Economic Impact Study of the BC dairy industry found that the industry continues to strengthen BC’s economy and support BC communities.

Industry contributed $1.225 billion to province’s GDP, supported almost 12,500 jobs in 2019

A 2020 Economic Impact Study of the BC dairy industry found that the industry continues to strengthen BC’s economy and support BC communities.

With dairy farms in most regions of the province, the industry created hundreds of new jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in new economic activity over the last decade, while providing the locally produced dairy products BC families rely on every day.

The report by MNP Economics and Research found today’s dairy industry remains BC’s most valuable agricultural product, accounting for 18 per cent of all farm income in the province in 2019. The industry supports 12,470 jobs in BC today, up from 11,000 in 2009. In the same period, its economic impact grew more than 20 per cent as its contribution to the province’s GDP grew to $1.225 billion from just over $1 billion.

“Dairy farmers are proud to be part of an industry that contributes to economic growth and stability in BC,” said Holger Schwichtenberg, an Agassiz-area dairy farmer and chairperson of the BC Dairy Association. “Our members are situated in almost every corner of BC, in local communities, producing nutritious food for families across the province every day.”

The Fraser Valley remains BC’s most significant centre of dairy production, with 70 per cent of farms. However, the industry is also significant in the Okanagan, Vancouver Island, in addition to farms located in the Kootenays, Cariboo, Bulkley Valley, and Peace River. In the last decade the number of companies processing raw milk into consumer products has grown to 51 from 33 as numerous new operations launched to produce local cheese, milk, and other dairy products in a number of BC communities.

“While there is strong demand for our products, our industry continues to evolve,” said Schwichtenberg. “Producers are adopting innovative technologies to advance environmental stewardship and animal care. We recently supported our communities by ensuring milk products were available through food banks. Now more than ever, people around BC recognize that local food production is important to maintaining food security for our province.”

In 2019, 469 farms across the province produced more than 840 million litres of raw milk (up from more than 650 million litres in 2009) worth more than $683 million. Of that, 352 million litres or 42 per cent was processed into fluid milk, the rest processed into other products such as cheese, yogurt, butter, and ice cream.

Read the complete economic report here.

This report was funded in part by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Government of British Columbia through programs delivered by the Investment Agriculture Foundation of B.C. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the Government of British Columbia and the Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC, are pleased to participate in the production of this report. We are committed to working with our industry partners to address issues of importance to the agriculture and agri-food industry in British Columbia. Opinions expressed in this report are those of the BC Dairy Association and not necessarily those of the Investment Agriculture Foundation, the Government of British Columbia or Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

About BC Dairy

BC Dairy is a not-for-profit organization representing BC’s dairy farmers.