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2011 Census of Agriculture Reveals Farm Numbers Shrinking

May 10, 2012 - New census numbers from Statistics Canada show the number of Canadian farms is continuing to shrink as operators consolidate operations.

The 2011 census of agriculture shows the number of farms in the country has dropped by about 23,000, or 10.3 per cent, since 2006. At the same time, the number of farm operators fell by 33,135 or 10.1 per cent to 293,925.

Farm numbers have been declining steadily since 1941. Between 2006 and 2011, the number fell in every province except Nova Scotia, where it rose 2.9 per cent. The number of operators was down everywhere in Canada except Nova Scotia, where it increased 2.5 per cent, and British Columbia, where it was up marginally.

Between 2006 and 2011, the average size of Canadian farms increased 6.9 per cent  from 728 acres to 778 acres. In Saskatchewan, the average farm size increased 15.1 per cent to 1,668 acres, the largest increase in the country.

The data also suggests Canada's farmers are re-evaluating the types of crops they produce.

The farming industry's main crops used to be evenly split between beef and grain, but the latest numbers showed a drop in the number of beef farmers.

Oilseed and grain farms now account for 30 per cent of all farms, compared with 26.9 per cent in 2006, while beef farms fell to 18.2 per cent from 26.3 per cent.

Farm operators are also getting older. For the first time, operators in the 55 and over age group represented the largest share of total operators. They accounted for 48.3 per cent in 2011 compared with 40.7 per cent in 2006 and with 32.1 per cent in 1991.

Farm operators under 35 represented 8.2% of the total in 2011, a decrease from 9.1 per cent in 2006 and less than half the proportion of 19.9 per cent two decades earlier. Those aged 35 to 54 accounted for 43.5 per cent in 2011, down from 50.2 per cent in 2006.

Click here to view the full report, "A Snapshot of Canadian Agriculture".


May 10, 2012
By Statistics Canada The Canadian Press