Donald Trump will add hundreds of dollars to annual Canadian grocery bills: Study

OTTAWA (AFP) - Canadians can expect to pay more for food in 2017 if Donald Trump rids the United States of undocumented migrants, including an estimated two million farm workers, according to a study published Tuesday(Dec 6).

Canada produces an abundance of livestock, grains and oilseeds but relies heavily on imports of fresh produce, especially in winter.

According to researchers at Dalhousie University in Halifax a US crackdown on illegal farm workers would lead to reduced farm productivity and higher prices.

"The 'Trump effect' could increase the cost of our food over the next few years," said Canada's Food Price Report, which was put out by the university.

The United States hands out visas to 66,000 temporary agricultural workers each year. But farms also hire an estimated two million illegal workers for planting and harvesting.

"Without such support, US production levels will be negatively affected and could push prices higher," the report concluded.

President-elect Trump is also expected to provide American farmers subsidies under a new Farm Bill that would drive up commodity prices.

The study predicted a three to five per cent increase in the average Canadian household's grocery bill in 2017, or about Can$420 (S$449).

Dairy and eggs along with bakery goods and cereal are expected to remain stable, but vegetables, fruits and nuts are "likely to experience a sharp price rise due to high imported quantities," it said.

Vegetables are expected to increase by four to six per cent and fruit and nuts by three to five per cent.

The researchers also said prices would increase due to a forecasted colder 2017, a continuing drought in California - which is a key produce supplier to Canada - and new carbon pricing in Canada that will hurt the agricultural sector.

This follows a year that has seen a steep increase in the number of people using food banks to more than 850,000 as low oil prices caused the devaluation of the Canadian dollar (from parity with the US greenback in 2013 to a low of Can$0.70), which diminished Canadians' purchasing power in foreign markets.